5 minute effort of 20 minute test

Is the 5 minute effort in the 20 minute test meant to a max 5 minute power effort. The workout text and what I have read in training and racing with power seem to suggest so. However I seem to be able to do 130 per cent of my FTP for 5 minutes. I have been using trainerroad for 3-4 years consistently so I not new to training or anything I just seem to have a much stronger Vo2 max than my FTP.

Although I can ride at that intensity for 5 minutes I really don’t want to do a 20 minute afterwards and find doing two max efforts physically and mentally taxing. The ramp test seems to give me a figure which is higher than the 20 minute test and I can’t do threshold workouts at the ftp the ramp test gives me. The 8 minute test gives me an even higher result which I can’t train from unless I am doing V02 max efforts. Anyone got any thoughts?

My understanding is just to get you in to the VO2 Max range to eliminate any influence from those muscle fibers on your test result. I have in the past just stuck to the power target then focused all my energy on the 20 minute effort.

If I were in your shoes, I would want to train my resistance at threshold by doing Sweet Spot, Threshold, and over/unders to build up my time at threshold. That is what I have done in the past when I found a large discrepancy between my max 6 minute power and max hour power. I bet you have the aerobic capacity to perform at the measured threshold of the ramp and 8 minutes tests , just not to muscular endurance.

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The 20-minute protocol requires the 5-minute max effort to reduce the anaerobic contribution to your 20-minute effort. It’s possible you have a very strong anaerobic capacity relative to your aerobic capacity, which could lead to ramp test results that might not be sustainable given your aerobic fitness and capabilities. It sounds like you could probably train with the FTP given from the ramp test, but that you might dial down the intensity of some of those workouts and work to develop your capabilities at sweet spot and threshold as those may be weaknesses (and possibly limiters depending on the type of racing you do).

Short answer: yes, the 5 minute effort should be maximum effort. I’ve set 5-minute power records on several occasions during the 5-minute precursor to the 20-minute FTP test efforts on the road.


Thanks for the responses, yes that was my understanding too @kurt.braeckel my current 5 minute power record is from a 20 minute test. It’s just hard to take myself there :flushed: and even harder to do the 20 minute effort after. One benefit I guess is I get to assess both capabilities.

Yes it is my hope that this is possible to get my FTP in line with my other capabilities. I have just finished sweet spot base mid volume 2 with no improvement unfortunately. I am close to peak fitness but it’s my first plateau and 2 tests in a row with no improvement hence I my question today.

Next I have sustained build and 40 ktt specialty planned. I time trial so it’s definetly a limiter. My specialism is hill climb TTS though so the short power is useful too (many uk hills are short 3-12 minute efforts). I do the hill climbs later Sep- Oct and focus on regular TTS earlier in the year. This years national hill climb will be a 20 minute climb for the women’s field so I need to work on longer efforts.

My aim is to close the gap and improve my 20 minute and hour power. Yes muscular endurance is probably the issue, I agree, that’s probably why I feel so destroyed afterwards. Last year I followed sustained power and 40 k tt plans too. But when I got to the 40 k tt I did an 8 minute test got an all time best ftp result and then failed to complete the workouts. I kept trying and burnt myself out and got ill. Ruined my progress for the year but I didn’t understand the issue at the time. I can and have followed criterium specialty plans off the 8 minute test result. But I have not actually held that ftp for longer than 12 minutes (at race pace).

Main difficulty, I find now is I feel I have to adjust workout intensity up for workouts above threshold so I don’t loose my strength and undertrain whilst making my sustained efforts possible and not burning out. The 20 minute test has allowed me to be more consistent but I have not improved. Difficult to be objective about yourself. I really wish I could just follow the plans as is but it doesn’t seem to work for me. I hope you are both right and I can get my actual ftp capabilities in line with 8 minute test. FTP would be above 4 watts per kg then, 4.3 I think. Great power to weight for a female. Any move in that direction would be great but I am hoping it shows potential for growth.

I used to be in the great short power, struggle at threshold club myself. I never understood why until this season when I got more disciplined and did a relatively huge block of base, followed by build, and then started another base phase.

I wasn’t planning this but had to push my A race from late March to late May so figured I might as well. I’ve got my CTL up in the 80s right now and can ride for hours at the high end of sweet spot. My 5min power in the other hand…

I was explaining my bizarre new diesel abilities to a pro triathlete friend who knows me from back when I was “fast” and his response was that I finally put in enough base work to get my aerobic engine to nearer its potential. Makes sense to me.

I’d say go with your 20min test and take a look at your weekly TSS. If it’s not incrementally increasing you’re not going to see adaptations. Add Z2 or low Z3 to fill in if need be.

I’ve quit FTP testing myself and just adjust up when SS/threshold workouts become obviously too easy.


One thing to consider when talking about any kind of fitness is that single metrics, like FTP, may not improve, but that doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily plateaued. It’s possible that your ability to sustain sweet spot up to threshold efforts now is easier in terms of perceived effort and also in terms of aerobic work than it was 12 weeks ago. Have you looked at your heart rate metrics during long intervals recently? Has your aerobic coupling (the relationship between HR and power, both in terms of absolute HR value and HR variability over the course of sustained steady state efforts) improved over the course of steady state efforts?

In base periods, improved aerobic coupling is a great metric to track alongside FTP, and particularly when FTP isn’t improving itself. TrainingPeaks (WKO4) and GoldenCheetah report aerobic coupling both for entire workouts and over intervals. It’s one of the metrics I wish TrainerRoad would incorporate because I think it actually DOES help people understand how they’re getting faster.

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Thanks for taking the time to respond. It’s good to be able to discuss these training issues with people who understand what I am on about. I took my FTP from the 20 minute test into the weekend but found I could consistently go over target, even in long sweet spot work. I did wright peak -1 on Sunday and was not only able to go above target but also didn’t feel as tired as I usually do afterward. So I did Lamark today as a kind of test and average power for the efforts was 5 watts over the FTP test result. So I’m going to go with that as my FTP for now and have a think how I test next time.

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