FTP help - SS easy but higher intensity kills me

I need help! I’ve read people talking about SS and threshold work being hard, but high intensity being easy, but can’t find a thread where people discuss the opposite? I’ve been using TR for about a year and a half now (got me through Leadville last year with a 10:40 finish). Prior to that I just rode miles on my bike. Mostly do Marathon MTB and offroad Triathlon. I’ve always had an “easy” time with SS work, however when the plans move into more supra threshold and V02 stuff it kills me. I usually have to drop intensity on the V02 stuff to finish the workouts (down to 97-95%). From what I’ve read this can be normal. Since January I’ve completed SSBMV, OlyTriBaseMV, OlyTriBuildMV. I’m now back a Base phase (plan builder, which is awesome!). I saw good progression through Base. FTP went 204, 217, 220, and then Monday after Build my ramp test put me back down to 216? I completed a hard local ride about 2 weeks ago with a tough 2 mile climb that I like to hammer occasionally to see where my fitness is at, per intervals.icu my estimated FTP would be 233 (I PR’d the climb). I’m 5’6”, 153 lb, eat a healthy diet and usually get 8 hours of sleep, and have been diagnosed with exercise induced asthma (forgot to use my inhaler prior to the last ramp test so that could have thrown it off).

Here’s my question: Given that I struggle so much with higher intensity should I keep my ramp test FTP (super bummed if I had an actual drop in fitness from all that hard work in Build) or use the one from intervals.icu? I currently have my FTP set to 228 (sort of in the middle). Since I’m back in a base block I figured this wouldn’t hurt? I just don’t want to do an entire base block at the wrong FTP and be doing mostly threshold work when I’m supposed to be doing SS. I hope this all makes sense. Any advice would be appreciated.

No surprise that you “tested” higher outside, and in a climb. Lots of us have different FTP indoors v. Outdoors and that’s been discussed a lot on the forum. FTP shouldn’t vary between indoor and outdoors but it does for some. Cooling and psychology are probably the main reasons for this, you couple that with getting your best numbers on a climb, your technique and previous cycling experience comes into play. For me, I’m the same, I have zero doubts that I could pull off a higher FTP test outdoors, and on a (rare as it is) steady enough climb.

You can do a couple of things, raise/lower the -% on the prescribed workout on the fly, or retest if you’re that concerned. While SS and threshold can be close, if you’ve done enough of either you know that they have their own feel for RPE.


I have a similar question but I do my testing indoors (ramp) for my TR FTP and use my outside test (20 min) for outside FTP. However, my issue is similar to Dan’s (I also have some asthma, getting older, etc.). My FTPs (admittedly I only started ramp this year) have been generally getting lower for inside. I just finished SSLVB1 and would have expected some rise in FTP but it was essentially minimal. I had fans going, felt my pacing and cadence was right (I used to spin way too fast), and I stopped when my breath was so ragged that I just couldn’t go on. It’s frustrating, because I “feel” like I should be fitter but the numbers say no. So my theories: 1) I am psychologically weak and give up way too early 2) I need to just trust the TR process, accept these lower indoor FTP values for TR, and proceed with SSLVB2, despite the SSLVB1 SS workouts feeling way too easy (like really minimal fatigue) 3) I need to do some alternative test (I tried to program the Kolie one in Workout Creator but wasn’t sure how to do it accurately) 4) I am not only psychologically weak, but physically weak as well despite feeling quite fit and strong.
Ultimately, my question is the same as Dan’s: trust the number and carry on? Or overthink it and guess my FTP based on how SS workouts feel?

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Similar struggle and terrible spring allergies/asthma. Personally I do longer tests and ignore ramp test for estimating FTP. The ramp test estimates max aerobic power, a proxy for 5-min vo2max power. Then it takes that estimate, and estimates FTP. Not a fan of estimates based on estimates.


I dislike the ramp test, at least to set my FTP. I use the 8 min TR protocol because I seem to do OK with the pacing and it gives me more reasonable estimates. The ramp test relies heavily on your ability to generate high power at VO2 Max and beyond, and has also been discussed a lot here is that if you have done little VO2 Max work it’s likely that you could under test on the ramp. I have always under tested on the ramp test, and I think it’s common. I’m working more on VO2 now so I’m open to trying it more in the future, and another great thing about the ramp is that it doesn’t take a day to recover from. The 8 min, I view it as a proper threshold workout that requires real rest.

No protocol is perfect of course but I like the 8 min. I can also replicate the 8 minute version outdoors if I’m interested in testing outdoors. It takes more practice learning to pace the more traditional methods but I’ve found it to be worth it.


I was actually considering doing an 8 or 20 minute test. If my FTP came out higher, than maybe that would explain why SS seams so doable to me? (FYI in base I did a 2x30 SS workout and really felt quite good getting through it). However, that would mean V02 would be even MORE difficult. In the end I just want the right number so I’m training properly, and maybe this is a good reason to hire a coach…

Your FTP is best used to set efforts at FTP and below - aerobic endurance, tempo, sweet spot, and threshold. And my personal belief is that using a longer test is better.

For zone 5 (vo2max) and zone 6 (anaerobic) efforts, those are highly individualized and you need to determine an appropriate % FTP. For example the description in TrainerRoad vo2max workout Mills tells the story:

That means adjust the Intensity setting in TR app, either up or down. If you cannot repeat all intervals then adjust intensity from 100% down to something lower. I make notes after the workout, to remember:

and it changes over time. There are times I’ve been able to complete Mills as planned, and times I have not.


I think you should repeat the ramp test but use your inhaler this time. I have found my inhaler makes a big difference for me across most of my rides, but the impact is more dramatic as the breathing requirements go up.


I’ve found:

  • doing a short block of vo2 can manipulate my ramp test results
  • the “estimate FTP using an estimate of MAP” just doesn’t seem right, along with the research shows the multiplier falls in the .72 to .77 range and so the “fudge factor” is individual
  • I don’t have an issue doing longer tests

Put those three things together and its pretty easy to not use the ramp test for FTP estimation.

Ramp tests are good for MAP (max aerobic power) estimation, and early in the season I’d much rather do a ramp test than a 5-minute max effort.

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You wrote exactly what just happened to me, except I did the 8 minute test outside instead of the 20 minute test. I’ve been doing my workouts outside and really thought I would see a bump in FTP but saw pretty much the same number. Then on the ramp test Monday, there was a slight drop.

It’s all pretty confusing to me because I also felt stronger and faster (quite a few Strava PRs, avg speed higher, etc). Just didn’t show up in the tests.

Today’s Ebbetts workout felt too easy in the SS and below zones (weather kept me indoors today). I would be interested to hear what you decide to do - not sure what I’m going to do other then maybe doing the 8 minute test indoors before continuing.

Right now I’m leaning towards doing the ramp test again with my inhaler prior. However, I’m super curious to see how I would do with an 8 or 20 minute test as I’ve never done either…

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I’ve recently doing races on RGT and have done a few where I’ve ended up riding for 80 or 90 minutes straight at 90% FTP. If i saw a TrainerRoad session like this i think I’d tend to not do it very often :grin:


Ok, just did the most unscientific test but whatever: after my ramp test this morning, I did the 8 min FTP test in the afternoon (admittedly, after doing yoga and eating pizza and a cookie…). My FTP was over 10% (!) higher, although lower than what I’ve done in the past with 20 min tests.
My guess (correct me if I’m wrong): I had not been doing VO2 workouts correctly, so I’m not “ready” for a real ramp test. Alternatively, I am strong (max 1700 watts) but generally am held back by HR and gasping. So maybe I need a heck of a lot more z2?

So my NEW question is: was my SSLVB1 worthless/incorrect, in that it was based on a much lower FTP than I just tested? I doubt I truly improved my FTP over 10% in 5 weeks…

So many questions, so looking forward to the forum’s answers!! :slight_smile:

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I wouldn’t say it was worthless or incorrect. Like @bbarrera said, you’re just better at the other test protocols. I’m probably the same way. I’m going to schedule my 8 minute test soon and see how it goes. Thanks for the update.

Totally possible that you gained 10% in 5 weeks. Each time I do a training block (4-6 weeks) I gain about 10-15% and I’m yet to do a real vo2max block. Your FTP SSB training was probably correct until it wasn’t. But incorrect doesn’t mean no adaptation but adaptatons of the wrong type less than what you could get. I’d rather have my FTP set lower than higher.

Though what I’m I wondering is on which test do you base the 10% inscrease the ramp or the 8 minutes or the 20 minutes? The test 5 weeks ago was it ramp ou 8 minutes or 20 minutes?

But I assume no one would recommend redoing SSLVB1 (since it seems I really did low tempo rather than SS)… just hop into SSLVB2 with the new FTP?

the previous test (5 weeks ago) was ramp, and when I redid ramp this morning it had barely budged. So that 10% rise is today’s ramp vs today’s 8 min. Apples and oranges, I suppose

what’s the 8 min test protocol? Do you multiply by some sort of factor to get your FTP?

My plan is to keep going with LV2, not redo LV1. If the LV2 workouts are too hard with a higher FTP, then I’ll readjust a little lower, but not down to the current FTP that seems too easy.

See the 8-min section: