Can the ramp test overestimate FTP

Hi. I absolutely nailed my last ramp test after SSBMV2 and saw a jump from 251 to 268. I did it in erg mode, didn’t sprint to the line or anything but whilst initially I was elated at the jump which is equal to my previous best, I just think it isn’t true. I’ve been racing in a zwift league which has included a couple of TTs lately and I have managed 257W NP/255W ave for 35 mins and I don’t feel there is much more in the tank. I’m about to move on to short power build and I’m considering swallowing my pride and manually adjusting FTP to 260. Thoughts?

Yes it can result in a over high number - depending on where your strengths are.

But why not give the workouts a go and see how you do, you can always dial back if your ftp has been set too high? If you are able to successfully complete the first several workouts using your Ramp Test FTP, you’ll know that you’re using the correct FTP.

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Only one way to find out!!!

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Did you test in the same position/bike as you raced your TTs? How was cooling during the 35min TTs on the trainer?
You can find out if your FTP is right with workouts like Lamarck. If you can manage it, your FTP is probably not too high.

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Same setup as I use every time. Cooling also fine. I’ve done the same TT course 4 times in the last 3 weeks. I’ve done it tired and rested. Power is the same within a handful of Watts with a max of 257 and a low of 250. I don’t see how that can possibly equate to an FTP of 268. I’ll give lamarck a crack and see how it goes.

We know the ramp test formula, 75% x last avg min power… the 75% is not set in stone, everyone isn’t the same, believe the 75% was ‘accurate’ for majority.

You may find altering the formula gives yourself a more accurate FTP. If I was finding it over estimating, I would change the formula to 70% x last avg min power and see how that works out. for you.

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Not everybody can hold their 20mins for an hour. Some people drop off pretty sharply after that 20mins. Some people gradually. I’ve done many, many 20 min, 40 min, 1 hour steady efforts and I find that I’m way off of 95% of my ftp when it comes to the hour effort. But for 40 mins I can hold very close.

1 hour: 234
40 mins: 258
20 mins: 267

TR FTP: 262

All efforts with similar fitness level this year. Same PM. Same bike. I weigh 10lbs less even than those efforts.

So yeah… I’m not sure about my TR result.

I’ve been on SSB1 for 3 weeks now and have no issues completing or keeping very steady at my target watts too. So not sure what’s going on. I just trust it and go with it. We’ll see in 3 more weeks where I am. Stuff is all relative so if I test better inside and my numbers go up outside I’m happy. Even if I don’t hit TR FTP outside.

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TT on Zwift may not be accurate either, long TT efforts IME require a very high degree of motivation and a bit of freshness to really hit your top numbers.

I would give it a go and see how you get on. If you’re failing workouts it’s too high, if you’re getting through them it’s ok. The number you get from a ramp test doesn’t have to be a number you can hold for 60 minutes, it needs to be a number that gives you the right amount of training stimulus for your workouts. If your power curve is skewed a bit more to the anaerobic end of things then the FTP you train with for Build workouts may well be a number you can’t hold for 30+ minutes.

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Don’t forget short power has a fair amount of efforts that are above 120% so dropping it a bit can make those efforts more repeatable. The thing is… going a little bit too low isn’t a huge consequence, but if you start out too hard of an effort, it is sometimes impossible to get back on track. If after the first few sets you feel you can go harder, then up it a few % and adjust FTP from there. Don’t forget though, that completing workouts in week one, does not mean you should increase FTP as the IF of the workouts get higher and higher as fatigue is also getting higher. You should be feeling pretty good during week one, if you start out by failing workouts it is really hard to get back on track.

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“Can the ramp test overestimate FTP” has been discussed many times on the forum. Most people will get good FTP estimates from ramp test, but not everyone. Just like most people will get good FTP estimates from a correctly executed 20-minute test, not not everyone. The “gold standard test” uses lactate measurements, but even then the person doing the testing has to be skilled in the testing protocol and analysis. So even a lactate test can give bad estimates if the tester screws up (or the athlete does the test while overtrained!).

TR uses 75% of one-minute max power to estimate FTP. Sometimes I under-test on the ramp, and have to use a higher number like 80%. Some people have very strong anaerobic systems and over-test on the ramp, and have to use a lower number like 70%. Instead of trying to figure that out, a lot of folks (including TR) suggest that you try and “calibrate” the ramp estimated FTP on a threshold workout, and then manually adjust FTP if needed.

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Lactate is just a surrogate marker, not any sort of ‘gold standard’.

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The original idea behind “FTP” is that if you didn’t have access to lactate testing, you can go out with a power meter and get a good estimate of (anaerobic) threshold. Safe to say the gold standard of determining threshold has been lactate testing. In recent years both WKO and INSCYD claim their proprietary software modeling will give accurate threshold estimates without lactate testing. I’m sure someone could make the case those proprietary software models have become the new gold standard for estimating threshold.

Yes it can overestimate. If you want to check go do a ramp test on Day 1, and do a 20min FTP on Day 2.
You can then compare results. IF you have a large anaerobic contribution you can “overpower” the ramp test which will lead to a sweet spot zone that is too high. The 20min test is basically a workout of its own so you don’t miss any training, and you can then adjust.

Enjoy.

@Carlgrz the ramp test estimates Maximum Aerobic Power (MAP). Then we use that estimate to estimate FTP as 75% of MAP. So your FTP is an estimate of an estimate…which already tells you there might be some room for error there. Further, not every rider will have an FTP that is 75% of MAP…FTP is more likely normally distributed around 75% of FTP. Definitely there will be some riders who have FTP that is 65% of MAP and some riders with FTP that is 85% of MAP.

So yeah, it can be off but the ramp test is still a pretty good tool to assess threshold power. You’ll learn pretty quickly where you sit on the FTP estimate continuum. Just be aware of it. Sounds like you’re pretty tuned in already!

I would be even more conservative than you are considering. Go with 255W. Adjust up if it feels too easy.

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Coggan has always claimed that measuring power is better than measuring lactate. Others now seem to be coming to the same conclusion.

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Good thing I never bothered to test lactate! Thanks, appreciate the link :smile:

Yes. use your better judgment! I have gone into build a few times with elevated ftp and cracked… not fun.

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I wanted to share my experience and what I have rationalized to myself.
Background is I am about 2 years into endurance sports and 1 year into more closely following TR, although I have yet to do a specialty phase.
I think I am more of a VO2 max person by nature, but really just been doing general gym fitness prior to endurance sports and TR.
I went through SSB 1 & 2 this winter/spring. I gained 10 watts in part 1 and another 10 watts in part 2 (I am about 150lbs and my FTP is now 202, so 3 watts/Kg).
I then went through SusPB and couldn’t really do any of the workouts as prescribed.
The long threshold intervals were the toughest. I did not knock down the percentage, I just did what I could.
Not surprising I guess but I only gained 2 watts through SusPB. I presume this was in large part to not being able to do workouts as prescribed.
Based on the above I have made some assumptions:

  • I have a lot of room left to build my base which is why I gained 20 watts through SSB 1 & 2
    -The ramp test over estimates my FTP (could this be because my VO2 max is more well developed as compared to my weaker base fitness?)
    -I can continue to focus on base, however, I think I might just continue to do century specialty as I have yet to do a specialty phase
    -My plan however, is to knock down the percentage by 10% I am thinking, maybe more. I found the threshold workouts very difficult
  • Plan builder gave me 2 weeks of SSB before I start the Century, and I feel the sweet spot workouts at an RPE that I would think are closer to threshold
    -So I guess my gut feeling is I have a lot more room to build my base fitness
    -And I also need a lot of work practicing threshold, but at the appropriate level that I can reach the target
    -Then hopefully, over time, if I do the above, my ramp test results will yield an FTP where I can hit all of the workouts (specifically threshold ones) once I more fully develop all part of my fitness?
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