Am I just really bad at the ramp test?

Hi all,

I started cycling in March of last year. Rode almost exclusively outside up until this past winter when the weather forced me inside… I started TrainerRoad in January and took a ramp test. I was disappointed by my initial result (196 watts) because just a month earlier I had held 230 for 20 min outside- so a 218ish ftp.

I thought my low FTP score may be because I wasn’t used to the ramp test format or riding indoors. I did a block of training at the prescribed FTP and took another FTP test and scored 198. Again, really disappointed in this result especially because I had a month of indoor training under my belt and only a 2 watt improvement.

I went on a ride outside with a friend yesterday- steady, moderate 40ish miles- and afterward I looked at my TrainingPeaks and saw that my best 20 minute power was 210. I wasn’t all out by any means, just a steady climb. This wattage makes sense given my last outdoor FTP test of 230- but I don’t understand why there is such a discrepancy between the power I can do inside and the power I can do outside.

It makes me feel like I have been really undertraining, but at the same time the workouts at 198 ftp have not felt easy indoors. I train on a Wahoo Kickr Snap inside and have a top of the line DuraAce power meter outside.

What’s the deal? Is it normal to have such a big difference between indoor and outdoor power? I’m guessing I should continue to train at my low inside power based on the podcasts I’ve listened to that say you need to put your ego aside and accept your FTP.

Could it be that I have a mental block with indoor training that is not allowing me to reach my potential? Or could it be a power meter issue? Or is it just normal? any insight would be appreciated.



Cooling is probably the single biggest difference between indoor and outdoor capabilities. Consider a very good fan (or preferably 2) if you haven’t already got something substantial.

Also, do a search in the forum for ramp tests and indoor vs outdoor FTP and you will find thousands of posts in discussion of this topic.

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the TL;DR of the forum search…

Ramp test is not for everyone…

You might get more accurate results with the 20 min test…

You sound like you can hold power longer… do the 20 minute and see if get what you would expect…

also outdoor FTP is never the same as indoor ftp…

Have you tried putting the bike with the powermeter on the trainer,do a workout, record the workout using the TrainerRoad program as normal, pair your powermeter to your bike computer (I use a garmin 520) & record the workout simultaneously on the bike computer.

Load both rides onto Strava and compare the power. Is it different?

Ramp test is a great ‘close enough’ estimate for the majority of riders. For the minority though the results will just be a bit rubbish - either materially too low or high.

Personally, the ramp test doesn’t really work well for me, so I use other testing methods.

That said, I would try training for a few weeks with the ramp test result as your FTP - if you find that it is too easy just bump your FTP up a bit until the training feels roughly right. You can then test again. If that test comes out obviously low, try a different testing method. If you are confident in your ability to pace an all out 20 minute effort, go for the 20 minute test. If you’re not confident of your pacing, go for the 8 minute test. Problem with the 20 minute test is you really need to know what your rough FTP is to pace the damn thing.

Like most things, you get better at performing the ramp test with practice, so I wouldn’t abandon it is a testing method too soon

What others have said, my indoor and outdoor FTP is vastly different: 25 watts. You will find both camps, those whose FTP is the same in/out and those who are different. However, you will always hear from the former who will tell you it shouldn’t matter where you ride it should be the same. While probably/maybe true, ignore them. If I used my outside FTP indoors I would never complete a workout.

While frustrating I just completed 2 base blocks and my FTP actually decreased 2 watts. But I am much better at muscular endurance than I was before (i.e. doing 12 - 18 minute sweet spot efforts). YMMV

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That’s what I wanted to know. 25 watts is about where I am so that makes me feel a lot better. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t totally slacking by training at such a lower FTP indoors.

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Hi Annie and welcome to the forums - there are many factors moving to indoor training that can affect your results, and yes it is normal to struggle a bit and get your set up right.

After getting used to a dumb trainer and TR workouts, the biggest factor is usually the fan - a big, powerful fan right in your face even if your workout area is around freezing.

After than I’d say balancing the training load - you said you did a training block, was that a TR plan, and which volume?