First FTP Ramp Test with low starting estimate

Hey - new to TR. Got into biking around May, about ~900 miles on two wheels according to Strava. No real endurance oriented training in the past, but off and on strength training over the past decade. Imported my rides from Strava and got an estimated FTP of around ~110w.

Picked up a Wahoo Kickr and ran the ramp test this morning. Was hard to hold the 50w or so for the warmup without spinning out and the first few intervals were super spiky (both past the target and to a floor of 0). Once I settled into a cadence of 90 rpm the power smoothed out pretty well, was flailing like a fish out of water at 110 rpm before that. Failed out on the 29th step (not including the warmup interval) for an FTP of 187. Any impact of having to do so many intervals before the fail? I imagine I would have failed maybe 10 mins earlier if the estimate was closer to the test result. Rather start jumping into the workouts, not keen on doing that test again :joy:

FWIW I weigh about 90kg so its not an impressive number

Just do it again with the 187, see what happens. 29min ramp sounds hard!

187 is a good starting place.
Your starting FTP was low, that why you got to 29. Most people can’t get pass the 20 min mark
Next time your starting power should be higher so you will not spin out of control early on.

You should be spinning about the same cadence the whole thing (as long as you can hold it that is).

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Anyway, if I were you, I’d redo the ramp test and see what it gives you now as you got a “base” FTP number in the books.

Just to be sure, you took the test in ERG mode? I’d advise using a smaller ring and about the middle of the cassette, if you didn’t already.

Sounds good will run it back in a few days and just push all the workouts out a bit. Might as well try to get those workouts as effective as possible and delay the start of my plan. I was in ERG mode. Started in small/middle to keep the chain straight to start but ended up in big/small (as in the hardest gear) as I was flailing around trying to feel the 50w warmup, left it there once the steps started. I guess it’ll start closer to 100w this time and I should be fine.

Something to keep in mind… The FTP MIGHT be close to real…

I would give yourself a few weeks to check if you can complete the wo with the FTP you got.

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Pretty sure this has been covered in the podcast.

What do you hope to achieve by taking the test again? 10 mins of “extra” work that far below your threshold is going to create any fatigue that will change the result.

Jumping in to a training plan is going to be much better use of your time. With a bit of structured training you’ll find your FTP improves quickly anyway.

The absolute FTP number really doesnt matter that much. You’ve got a gauge plenty good enough to start your training!

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The issue isn’t the extra work below threshold. If your ftp is set far too low then you also have to do significantly more work above your ftp than if your previous ftp had been right or too high. It’s a flaw in the testing protocol - the result you get self evidently depends on the initial ftp estimate.

Could you explain this in more detail?

If your FTP is set too low, then your first ramp step will be further away from your actual FTP. That means you’re going to have more steps (and therefore time) between the beginning of your test and the end of the test.

The number of steps you can sustain above your FTP is going to be dictated by your V02 max range and your V02 max and FTP relationship is going to stay the same regardless of how low a wattage your first step is,

What am I missing?

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Only thing that I can think of is how the test picks the target wattage at each step. It looks like during the test I did today the target wattage for each step was 7 watts apart. If I go look at the ramp test workout now it shows an 11 watt difference in steps… so presumably I would spend less time ramping into higher steps. But I’m not sure if the test dynamically creates those levels based on performance in the test or if they are pre-planned based on your last FTP going into the test.

Yeah I’m not sure how that’s calculated either and for some reason I can’t currently load my calendar to check.

However, whether you fail 30 seconds in to a 7w ramp or 20 seconds in to a 10w ramp, you’re still only able to maintain a certain percentage over FTP, regardless of how low you start in the beginning.

The step size is 6% of your FTP. If your starting FTP is much lower than your actual FTP, you’ll spend more time than usual above your (actual) threshold, because the scaling is off and it’ll take longer to get from 100% to ~133%. Using numbers from OP:

Initial FTP: 110
Step size: 6.6
Resulting FTP: 187
Last minute: ~249 (technically this was the max one-minute power, not the final step, but it’s close enough)
Time spent over 187: ~9:20

Step size if the initial FTP had been 187: 11.2
Time that would have been spent over 187: ~5:30

I can’t quantify the difference that spending an extra four-ish minutes over threshold would have on the results, but it’s a test to exhaustion, so it seems likely that there would be an impact.

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That makes sense now, thanks for clarifying, that’s really interesting!

No problem.

Honestly I think TR probably lowballs the initial estimate on purpose, and that’s a good thing: Somebody so new to training that they don’t already have an FTP estimate will likely be at a lower fitness level generally, so as long as they’re doing consistent structure, they’ll make gains even if most of the SSB workouts end up being Tempo instead of Sweet Spot. (And they’ll be less likely to fail workouts in the process, which is great for confidence-building and maintaining consistency.)

(My initial FTP estimate on TR was 65, my trainer’s wattage floor didn’t catch up until the sixth step, and my stopping point was 30 minutes.)

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For the future people new to TR stumbling here through search - I ran the test again today and I got… the same exact FTP of 187. Only difference is that my heart rate didn’t get nearly as high as the first test when I quit (200 the first time, 195 the second time). Legs felt about the same. Obviously not scientific, can’t control for sleep, nutrition, other fatigue, etc - but your FTP is probably close enough to start from your first test.

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