FTP outcomes (Ramp test versus traditional 20 minute test) for differing physiologies

Hi o/ (first-time poster)

Quick Background.
I think I am what you’d call an Ectomorph - I weigh about 62-64kg and I’m 5’11". I’ve been riding for a few years and train regularly. I would say I have a good diet and I don’t drink much alcohol. Overall I should definitely be a stronger human being. However, I do have a good W/KG and when at peak fitness I have held 300 watts for an hour, my best 20 minute is 321 watts.

I joined up to TR last week and I’ll be doing a large block of Medium Volume training of the next 5 months using plan builder. To start off I performed the ‘Ramp Test’. I’d estimated my current FTP to be around 285w.

This was my first ever ramp test as in the past I’d always used the 20-minute method. At the end of the RT the estimate came in at 258 watts which surprised me and initially, I thought this is wrong. But understanding that the estimate is loosely 75% of the point of failure and factoring in the structure of the test I came to the conclusion that in fact, this is probably a better and more accurate representation of my capabilities than the traditional test.

I am quite certain that I could hold close to 300 watts for 20 minutes and that would put my FTP at around 285 watts but that’s because I am good at holding around ‘threshold’ for some time and can suffer quite well I feel. However, the moment I go above threshold I am in trouble as lactate quickly builds and fatigue kicks in and this is how a ramp test plays out for me. In a ramp test, you spend very little time around threshold and quickly move into VO2 max territory and this kills me.

So for my power profile, I would get a much higher FTP in a 20-minute test than I would in a ramp test. Has anyone else experienced the same?

This doesn’t mean that I want to override the estimate though as I feel that this will allow me to complete more workouts, enjoy them more, and retain a higher level of freshness throughout the year. It is exactly the zone where I should be training even though I could probably/maybe achieve a higher number.
So, in summary, I feel like I have two FTP values:

Ramp Test 258
20-minute (calculated at 95%) 285

The difference between the two is that for the higher number I feel I am more likely to experience more fatigue and possibly experience overtraining.

Is there any research out there that backs up my theory that lighter riders like me would perform better in a 20-minute test versus a ramp test and has anyone else experienced similar?

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The more suitable test to your phenotype:

There are also answers for your questions, so your FTP is very high percentage of vo2 max.

And no it has nothing with your weight :slight_smile: and congratulations to your pro-level w/kg

Thanks Jarrson really interesting reading!

Using the ramp test estimate for VO2 workouts while using the baseline for the sweetspot workouts sounds like a sound concept.

Thanks again :+1:


I have/had a similar discrepancy between ramp test and 20 minute test. I suspect partly physio/psychological and part equipment based. I’ve been intending to try Kolie’s protocol but probably won’t until after this base/build/specialty cycle as I don’t want to change protocols mid training.

I used the 20 minute number to set workouts. Felt really easy otherwise.

Yeah physiologically I don’t think it’s about weight. What I’ve always been told is that it’s more about things like relative balance of fast- vs. slow-twitch muscle fibers, Vo2max vs. efficiency, things like that.

I’m the opposite. 20 minute tests park my FTP around 310 to 315 (4.3 w/kg), and ramp tests tend to overstate it even more, whereas my actual MLSS (and my hour power) is around 265 to 270. Going up above FTP doesn’t immediately cause that burning sensation.

I’ve basically got a relatively low FTP but can go up pretty high above it for a few minutes at a time.

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i have had the same issue and am also curious as where this discussion heads. I am 70 kg and according to 20 min ftp test i am sitting at 305 (4.35 w/kg). In ramp testing indoors i reside right around 270-275. Perhaps i am foolish but i put my ftp in at 280-285 region for TR workouts and it seems to be ok, Im challenged but not dusted at the end of workouts. I attributed it to lack of motivation (riding outdoors is more exciting) and cooling but perhaps its a testing issue or my lack of ability to sustain that high power that ramp testing involves. Curious

You also have to factor in indoor vs outdoor watts. People tend to have a higher outdoor ftp.

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Your test results have (among other things) to do with just conditioned you are to perform one type of workout vs. the other.
If you feel that like you’re failing your VO2 workouts, you aren’t alone. My personal suggestion is to drop the “FTP number” by 5% during the workout and see if that makes the life easier. After all, you’re still going to be hitting the required zones.

PS. It has absolutely nothing to do with your weight, so don’t worry much about it.

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FTP is just a number to base your workout power % at. The ramp test is just an easy way to get a result consistently. Do the program as it is and see how you feel after a couple weeks. If you think it’s too easy, bump it up 5 or 10%


I can think of 4 reasons off the top of my head why they might be different:

  • unfamiliarity with the ramp test - with the 20 minute test, you are looking to pace yourself evenly. With the ramp test, it’s really about hanging on for that last 30 seconds or so. Staying on top of the cadence with each jump in power is also important to avoid the “spiral of death”.
  • indoor v outdoor watts (it is common for indoor watts to be lower due to lack of movement through the air)
  • different power meter between the bike and the trainer.
  • the ramp test is VO2Max sensitive - if you have been doing sweet spot/threshold work of recent, your VO2Max level efforts may be lower.

If you think you could score higher with the ramp test with great familiarity, then take it again.

Otherwise it is probably a fair reflection of your capabilities on the indoor trainer, and reasonable for setting TR power levels.

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Aha!!! This is the solution I’m looking for! I read that thread but missed this suggestion.

Vo2max work in SusPB is absolutely wrecking me & the sweet spot workouts are too easy. Going to start adjusting workout intensity levels based on this.

Yes - this can certainly happen. You likely skew slow twitch, and do not generate much lactate. Not a bad profile for a cyclist (at least, if you don’t plan on being a sprinter)!

Go hang out on these threads and you’ll see the opposite is true also - and seems like more people complain about this :rofl:

Just to be sure, the 20min are also indoor right? (Sorry if I missed it.)

Did you do the 5 minute All-out effort before your 20m? The 95% figure really doesn’t work well without it though that key part of the test seems to have been lost in the ether.

I’ve been Using the Ramp test to set my VO2 workout intensity, and a longer test every 2-3 months following the protocols suggested above to give me a more achievable point for FTP/SS work. I’m the opposite to you in that I get a big over-estimate from the ramp test, but a I think similar approach would work.

Having done this a few times, the difference seems fairly consistent, with my ‘True’ FTP around 94-96% of my ramp test result whenever I’ve tested both within a short
period of time. Now I know this I can use the less demanding ramp test to get an update on both, and give me a sensible target for the long test.



Just like the “VO2Max training at 120% of FTP”, the ramp test relies on a relationship between power at VO2Max and your FTP; this relationship works for most, but not all. Those that fit into the model get the benefit of using a less demanding, faster and easier recovery test (the ramp) than the standard 20-min one. Those that don’t fit into the model will end up with either an FTP set too low or too high.

I’m in the “too low” category: if I set my FTP by the ramp test, it turns threshold and over-unders into sweet spot; if I set my FTP by the 20-min test or by tweaking based on threshold workouts, I have to dial down the harder VO2Max sessions. That simply indicates that my pVO2Max is less than 120% of my FTP.

Yeah, I always test indoors mainly because it’s way more of a controlled environment and when doing the 20-minute test it’s as per the standard one with openers, 5-minute flush out followed by the 20-minute test.

Yeah I think this will be part of the issue where the majority of the type of riding I do tends to be Zone 3 / 4 and I struggle at the VO2Max efforts currently.

I think that’s what I’ll do too. I’ll look to increase the FTP centric workouts upwards slightly depending on feeling and leave the VO2Max stuff as per the ramp test. I think without addressing this it could potentially mean overreaching and killing my motivation and potentially send fitness in the wrong direction. Will let you know how I go in the plan from time to time I’m sure but did the Kaweah workout today (5*10 at just below FTP with 5-minute recoveries) and the target power required concentration but I could probably have sent the HR a little higher and held 10 or so more watts on those. When I did Ebbetts with the seated 5-second micro efforts earlier in the week I still was on the limit getting to the target power in those 5-second channels and sometimes fell just below. I’ll dial up the intensity of sweetspot type rides according to feeling and leave the VO2 ones as they are.

Thank you for your replies.

You sound very similar to myself. I’m 64kg and have just done a 60min test this afternoon, came in at bang on 300watts for the hour. If I do the ramp test it always comes out much lower than that, when TR first launched it I used it but my workouts were far too easy, I switched to mFTP in WKO4 and feel that gives me a much better picture of where I am at and also gives me guidance on optimising my intervals. I’m a time trailist so probably like yourself have a high threshold comparative to my VO2 level. For my threshold test, I have had good experience with Kolie Moore’s test, it’s also a really good workout.

So my initial ramp test was around 5 weeks ago and all my training since has been based upon the results from that test. I retested this evening.

The past five weeks training has been enjoyable and I adopted the approach of pushing a little higher than target watts on all threshold work and sticking closer to target for vo2 work. I’ve also pretty much ridden every day replacing rest days with 30 mins Taku on rollers. I’ve also noticed my cadence has increased significantly by about 5 to 7 rpm on average.

My new ftp today increased from 258 to 269.

All good so far and considering I’ve been training for around 4 years I consider this a massive increase. Thanks TR.