Do Time Trialists/Triathletes prefer the 20min FTP test to the ramp?

Do the majority of time trialists on here prefer to do the 20min ftp test rather than the ramp???

I’m a TTer and my preference is for the ramp test.

My best 20 minute effort from a TT pretty much confirmed its accuracy.

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I tend to do better in a TT so I’ll count myself as a Time Trialist and yes I do prefer a 20 minute test. This is really only due to the fact it just feels like a complete workout and most of the TT’s I do are shorter as the TT scene here is not that strong so 20 minutes is my typical time for the race.

That said I’ve done both close to each other and pretty much got the same results.

The answers you get will all be personal and not necessarily transferable between individuals.

Personally I significantly underperform on the ramp test and generally get higher numbers the longer the testing protocol. Whether that is better or not is debatable! Different strokes for different folks.


20 minute outside on the TT bike. Test like I train. Train like I race type of thinking.


Yes, the ramp test cuts you way early if your over-threshold power isn’t very developed.
Ramp test is really old but it’s comeback is good for starters & indoors (both of which TR caters to)

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Triathlete here, but ramp test way underestimated my FTP. Did the ramp a couple weeks ago and it gave me FTP of 218 this was 2 days after I had done 140 minutes at 210 watts. I’m definitely more of a diesel than a top end guy.

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I have always done the 20 minute test and therefore prefer to remain with it for consistency.
As a TTer I also feel it is more representative of the races I will be doing. Results have validated the FTP test results.

I have only done one half-hearted ramp test and I failed at about 220 watts when my FTP is between 240 and 250. I keep meaning to do a full effort at one but long term I will stick with the 20 as that is a proper workout in itself.

Or if your glass is half full you might have a very over developed threshold relative to VO2 :grinning:

I under perform as well in the ramp test by about 25-30w. Its a different kettle of fish compared to the 20min test which I prefer and seems to me more relevant to a time trialist with regards to effort and pacing etc.
The 20min test lets me keep the cadence i prefer and doesnt alter resistance and rhythmn like the ramp does.
Interesting to see if the results differ between doing the ramp test in erg mode and doing it without??

Couple of observations on under-performance in the TR ramp test.

Firstly, while it may be conservative for threshold, I find that it sets my numbers for vo2 workouts perfectly. And vo2 workouts form an important part of Sustained Power Build.

Secondly, there’s a ramp test you can get on Zwift and can probably build in Workout Creator. It has longer steps, and the failure point comes at around 121% of FTP rather than 133% for the TR ramp test. I’ve found it gives me a higher number that probably better represents my actual hour power - but as above, beware putting that number in before doing Shortoff +4 or something.

I’m of the opinion that I want my FTP setting to reflect my MLSS more so than my VO2 max. Many people use resistance mode for VO2 since their sustainable/repeatable VO2 power is highly individual. It makes more sense to modify that one workout compared to the majority of the workouts being easier than they should be. In my summer peak, I might be able to repeat 120% of FTP, so that is the only time that the ramp test is accurate, otherwise the tests which are closer to FTP are more accurate for me.

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I’m not sure that’s the right choice of words, I’m pretty sure I’ve never given anything less than a maximal effort in any of the tests :wink: :crazy_face:
I like @chad’s take on a recent Podcast that it’s not a test with the implication of a “pass or fail” but an assessment of your current abilities.

This may be true for you but it might just inaccurate for some if like @Bioteknik says you are trying to assess MLSS. Like any test that’s based on estimating something rather that actually measuring it, while most may fit the assessment’s bell curve and get a fairly accurate assessment there are also two extremes where the fit is poor.

Rider A - MLSS falls around 70% of maximal ability. For short periods (such as the last few minutes of a ramp test) they may well be able to push well beyond MLSS and overestimate their ability at threshold.

Rider B - MLSS falls around 95% of maximal ability. Once they pass their MLSS there really isn’t much headroom to work with and MLSS will be very much underestimated using a test like the Ramp Test.

Neither rider is either over or under performing, they are riding to their maximal abilities within their own physiology. It doesn’t mean either that the Ramp test is a poor test. It might just be, for riders at either ends of the bell curve there are significantly better tests to assess what they are actually trying to find out.

Yes, perhaps I should have said “under-estimation of FTP”.

I think the thread is running under the assumption that most TTers fall in, or towards, the Rider B category.

I think that’s probably true. Most of us I think will tend to gravitate towards what we are naturally good at, some with a knowledge of their underlying physiology and some without.

There is also a thread for people who feel they ‘overtest’ with the Ramp test so TR caters for my Rider A types as well!