Big ramp test disappointment

I’m training for a gran fondo 104 miles 12000ft climbing, picked sustained power build LV and century plan low volume, I add one outside ride on weekends.
Before starting the build block I did ramp test 249 FTP the. I didn’t again and it was 248, today I did it again to stat the century plan and it’s was 244. I’m just mad as hell Lol! I have put the work with only a minor set back on a week that had an outpatient procedure and had to lower the workout intensity a bit for 3 workouts, but recovered and finish the build strongly.
I have seen considerable improvement on outside rides, so I simply can’t understand how FTP is going backwards.
Any thoughts/advise is really appreciated.

You’re training for 5+ hour rides, not 20 min ramp test. If you are seeing improvements outside your aerobic engine and efficiency are likely improving.

You are raising the floor, not the ceiling. Carry on.


For starters, if you are able to do 100ft+/mi over a century ride, then you are likely doing a lot of long, sustained climbs. I think you should seriously consider switching your FTP testing protocol to the 20min test. I’d bet “dollars to donuts” that your comparative 20min testing results would be a better reflection of your training improvement.

Secondly, there are other equally, if not more, important metrics of performance for endurance riders than FTP. Unfortunately, TR does not provide advanced analytics, such as these. However, to give you one example of how misleading FTP can be:

Last year at this time my focus was on 10kft+ centuries. I did 4 successive ones from May through August. My FTP dropped by 15% during this period of time! However, my 6 hour power increased by 30% to resulting in an all time 10kft century PR!

As Tim Cusick, Training Peaks WKO4 product lead, has said: “When you are working on one part of the power distribution curve, you aren’t working on another”. Or said differently, if your “A” race is your Ramp Test, then you should seek out threads here on the Forum that teach you to improve it. Otherwise, I would suggest staying focused on century training and the results will show on the day of your GF.


A +/- 2% change in FTP shouldn’t get you in too big of an uproar. There is a point where there is error involved in these tests with the equipment we use. The first two times should really be considered about the same. Then the third a minor drop. There could be a multitude of reasons why you dropped a few watts. Maybe you got in your own head? Maybe you had a bad day? Maybe something else?

In any case I’ve had a period where I’ve had a stagnant FTP increase. But, I had people complimenting me on how good I had been riding and that I seemed a lot stronger. During this time period, going from ‘OK’ to ‘Strong’ my FTP didn’t really move. But I could just ride a lot further and steadier than my friends. I had been training a lot for some big ass gravel races. So I was doing long sweet spot efforts and then long day rides.

As bobmac pointed out, it sounds like you’re working on a part of your ‘power curve’ but neglecting other parts, like the FTP part.

I wouldn’t worry too much, just keep riding. Eventually you’ll restart the plan at base and start going up to a build phase. You’ll get that FTP moving eventually.


I agree the the ramp test may not be reflective of the type of efforts that you are training. My Ramp Test FTP seems to be dominated by the fact that my anaerobic power is large compared to my aerobic power. So, I could easily ace the VO2Max intervals but really struggled with SS intervals when they were both set by my ramp test ftp. After doing a round of SS base my FTP hasn’t changed by I am much better at SS intervals and I can feel that on the road.


I was speaking to a successful time trial specialist today in the local scene and she mentioned she was terrible at the Ramp Test. She still kicks butt so don’t beat yourself up . I can see how it is frustrating for you after putting in the work, If I were you see how you feel in your weekly sessions, if they are getting easier bump them up the intervals in manageable increments.

You are probably a lot stronger now in your ability to recover from fairly long sustained efforts.


Personally I’ve found that sustained power build and the tri plans do not translate to big performance gains as measured with the ramp test. I’ve hit 20 min power PR’s in outdoor rides that suggested a higher FTP than what my most recent ramp test would suggest. I attribute this gap to the fact that my training efforts do not emphasize VO2max as much and hence I top out early.

I hate the 20-minute test protocol, it takes too much out of me and ruins the next 2 or 3 days of training for me. Instead I learned to be completely honest with myself - If I can complete all my prescribed workout and feel like I could suffer more I bump my FTP manually by a few watts and see what happens. If it turns out I can’t complete the next workouts I revert to my previous setting. In the end the numbers don’t matter all that much as long as you get the training benefit you seek.

In your case the TR PR analysis and season match might be a good tool to visualize progress. Instead of using the ramp test to track progress you could just go out and destroy some sustained efforts and see how your 20-60 min PRs compare to 4 or 8 weeks ago.


Totally agree with comment above - this approach and feature is perfect for looking beyond ramp tests to stay motivated. Even just comparing within season, go out and try to do a really hard 30-60 mins. I have found that is where all my gains have been since using TR. My FTP from a ramp or 20 min test hasn’t changed that significantly, but I can actually demonstrate it much more repeatedly now.

Comparing power of your ride to season PRs is also nice to see after each hard ride. I had a long break over winter and was able to see the longer power bounce back and go beyond prior years even while doing way less volume indoors over winter. But FTP basically just returned to where it was, and actually dropped a few watts after a huge month of almost exclusively Z3 climbing in the Alps. Then came back, rested a bit over a week, and lots more PRs along my power curve when I returned. Still plateaued on FTP, but clearly got some benefit!


+1 or however many it is now!

The advantage of the ramp test is that it’s simple and easily repeatable. But measuring cycling fitness with a single number is a bit like assessing candidates in a recruitment process just by having them take an IQ test. Overly simplistic and only tells one part of the story.

I’m another who frequently sees ramp test results plateau, while seeing large and measurable gains in other aspects of my cycling. I guess TR could follow the Sufferfest approach of measuring multiple aspects of fitness instead of just one, but then it becomes more complicated which has its down sides. Personally I try not to think of the ramp test results as my “FTP” but instead as something like my “Training zone calibrator” (not very catchy, I’m not good with names…). If I get a jump in my ramp test result it doesn’t necessarily mean I can go do a 40k TT at a higher wattage, but it does mean I should bump up my training zones.


Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses and great insights, very encouraging!!

That was a great suggestion to look at PR’s and I did, noticed I have PR everything from 20 minutes to 4+ hours in the last two months, pretty encouraging!!


The other thing I find interesting to check is if you have any repeat TR rides at similar FTP, see how your heart rate changes over time. Did one today that I had done in Jan/Feb within a couple watts the same power, similar FTP. Today’s HR was 17 beats lower average; max was 21 lower. (and HR in Feb ride was right in between the two) And yes, lots of things can impact HR - but that is a huge difference and you’ll build enough data to know what is real and what isn’t. Quite certain that I’d have a lot better shot to put multiple hours of work like that together now than I would have in January.

I think it’s a nice benefit of the fact that many of the TR plans haven’t changed a lot, because it allows this kind of comparison looking not just at your power PR curve, but also how hard your body has to work to make the same power profiles through a ride in a relatively well controlled comparison test when done indoors.

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It’s one “test,” don’t worry about it. Most of the “tests” are fairly worthless and are starting to be shown to not really give any pertinent information. Test sets are usually for coaches who don’t know how to coach or for coaches who want to coach large groups and use a “cut and paste” format.

Work on your focus. Work on getting relaxed. Work on being present during your workouts. Visualize what you want to do. Develop better feel and awareness. Take a break every now and then from the feedback of the gadgets and the gizmos.

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Test results also will vary based on your training load in the days and weeks before the test. If your chronic training load (CTL) is high, your power will be down. If you taper before the grand fondo, your CTL will go down and your power will rise. If you did the test within a week of a hard ride or as part of a heavy training load, I wouldn’t worry. Also, consider sleep, nutrition, life stress and time of day. All those can affect results.

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I feel you, man. I had a pretty big disappointment this morning on my ramp test as well. In my case, it was due to my power meter disconnecting from TR. I’d double check to make sure your equipment is calibrated or zeroe’d, also make sure your drivetrain is well-maintained.

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I get your frustration. I have been riding for a couple of years after a few major surgeries and Ill health. I have improved physically and felt this was my year to really do well. My goal was to be able to ride longer at my 1 hour pace. I joined a bike club to do some group rides and still continued to do some indoor training sessions.

I do feel way stronger and am now able to ride a hard 80k or so without any huge impact or need for extra recovery. My pacing has improved and muscular endurance is a lot better. I am 59 and had tested in May at essentially 3watts/kilo. Last week I go to do an FTP test and am anxious to see if it is higher. I do expect it to be higher as all my power records that TrainerRoad shows are all for rides in the last year. Other than some real short power under 30 secs, all my best performances are within the last 6 weeks.

So go do the test and my wife comes down to see me at roughly the 19 minute mark of the test. It was just enough to cause me to lose focus so my cadence dropped and then my tire was slipping. Of course I blame the trainer and now need a direct drive trainer so I won’t have that excuse. Can’t blame my wife, 31 years together learned that gets me nowhere. Suffice my FTP test didn’t go as planned and I didn’t improve on the test number.

I was annoyed and then deleted my test result as I expected better. After I realize the focus on an arbitrary number really doesn’t make sense.

So my number is lower than what I expected but I am able to ride better outside. I am still improving and like you seeing my improvements outside but as of yet it hasn’t translated into a better test result. My FTP will get higher at some point as I know I am trending in the right direction. You will get there too.

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I wouldn’t worry about it. I had an issue that was that mirrors what you were seeing, I just carried on and the next one improved by 14 watts. For me I think the adaptation from SSB2 kicked in.

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