FTP Test help request

I’d appreciate any insight / advice…pretty sure I know the answer, but looking for some validation / confirmation.

Background - 30+ year cyclist / racer. Cat3, solid masters racer, qualified for 70.3 Worlds in 2017 (bike is obviously my strength in tris), 2x IM finisher. Race weight ~150lbs / 68kg.

Set a goal of hitting 4 w/kg this year. Started TR on Nov. 1 w/ FTP of 239w based on Ramp Test (historical mid-season FTP ~250-260w). Would love to hit an outright 270w FTP.

Went through TBI-III(MV) and then into SS2(MV). The last month of so I was doing a hybrid between General Build MV and the plan laid out by Plan Builder, with Barry-Roubaix as an A race.

Since then my tested FTP has been flat or declining (all Ramp Test). Went down to 226 and then back up to ~240. Nonetheless, I have been bumping up my FTP in TR because I have been completing all workouts at prescribed wattage and generally feeling pretty strong. Skipped a couple of tests simply because I was bumping up my FTP (either based on feel, or a long effort in a Zwift race). Currently have FTP set @ 260 watts and completing all workouts. Did Spanish Needle +2 last Saturday, and while it was a ball-buster, I got through it at or above prescribed wattage.

Rest week last week and Ramp Test this AM…pfffft. Whiff…249w. Gotta admit, I was disappointed even though my workout numbers have been great and I have generally been feeling good about my progress.

A few thoughts…I don’t think I have ever tested well. I think my highest test indoors was ~250w, based on a 20" FTP test. But I know I can exceed that outdoors (went 269w at USAT Nationals one year and then still had a PR 10k). So that could be part of it…(I’m leaving aside the normal differences between indoor and outdoor wattages for now)

My weakness has always been extended VO2 max efforts…I can sit at the front of a group and pull all goddamn day and grind guys away, but when I start having to do 3+min around 120-150%, I suffer.

It seems to me that a Ramp Test may not be the best option for my strengths / ability…by the time I get to “crunch time” on a Ramp Test, I am ready to implode, not dig in and push harder.

So I am wondering if my historic indication that I don’t test well, combined with a protocol that doesn’t suit me well, is giving me poor results.

I am tempted to do a test by climbing Alpe du Zwift tomorrow and seeing what I get for numbers…kinda takes the testing protocol out of it and being in a semi-competitive environment may give me added motivations.

Any input appreciated!!

I have never tested well on the ramp test since it’s inception. I do far better on the 8 min or 20 min test. I keep swearing to go back to the old versions but never seem to.

The ramp test certainly favors the well-rounded.

Strengths are suppressed and weaknesses are exposed.

And yet it’s still the second best testing protocol. IMHO the best protocol is going into a workout with past experience and adjusting intensity to suit.

Until the latest one I’ve seemed to underperform on the Ramp Test and usually bumped it up by a few Watts.

If you feel that VO2max is your strength then do a workout like Charybdis. Start at your current FTP for the first interval and bump the intensity up by a couple of percent for each interval. At some point you won’t be able to do the three minutes so that’s likely to around your 120% of FTP.

Have you read the posts here that provide tips for how to get the most from the ramp test. They are numerous. Perhaps you can develop some skill in those tactics which might override your testing blocker.

Thanks for all the input so far…

@russell.r.sage Yes, I have read a lot of the tips…I do think I made an error today in that I decided to lower my cadence just as I went over-threshold today. Had been spinning ~97-100rpm and I dropped down to ~90-92. I’ve also bee reading up on different FTP protocol options and am considering those…but to be honest (adn this goes back to not testing well), some of those options just seem to put me off. Kinda like a 20min FTP test…always dreaded those coming into it. Hence the reason I am considering just hitting the Alpe hard and seeing what I can get.

@bobw, VO2max is a weakness, not a strength for me. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

Try Kolie Moore Test protocol - yes it is around 45 min at threshold but, in my experience, the recovery is a lot easier than after ramp test. And it is also good workout in itself. It looks horrible but at the end it is simply riding your bike, not testing :wink:

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Yeah, I was reading those threads, which was partially what motivated me to consider other options and solicit some advice.

At the end of the day, I know it is about the work and not a single test and I have been getting through all my workouts at 260w FTP and feeling good, so I feel confident about where I am.

But you always want that validation, ya know? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Do you think the 20 minute test is better for triathletes? Just started biking in December and signed up for a 70.3 race in September. Used the ramp test for the first two and saw good progress since I was going from nothing to something. Then after my best 6 weeks of training missing no workouts on Base Mid Volume for Half Distance triathlon my FTP leveled. Kind of disappointing. New to all of this. Maybe the 20 minute test would give a better result?

I see and read a lot of people on both the forum and FB criticise the Ramp Test and suggest other testing protocols and I’m aware that these may work for % of people, I would love one of the TR guys to comment on the % as they seam to indicate it’s a very low % of people on the platform.

I completed Lamarck this week, its 4x 10mins at FTP and in Chad’s workout text mentions that this could been used as a good indicator to ones FTP - you could add the power for the 4 intervals and divide by 4 and if you paced these intervals you would get something of a confirmation that your FTP was set correctly as the text mentions what you can do for 40 mins should be what you can do for the hour - although TR FTP is not strictly your hour power according to the coaches when discussing this on a recent podcast.

Long story short is you could try something like “Lamarck” to confirm your FTP in TR is set correctly.

As good a time as any to post this :smiley:

via Imgflip Meme Generator


Lamarck is 4x10 at FTP it has nothing to do (in my opinion) with holding your FTP for 40 minutes, yet 60 minutes. 4x10 with 2 minutes brakes is effectively something like 30 min at FTP - so very low TTE. The way from 30 minutes TTE to 60 minutes TTE is very long and paved with many drops of sweat and curses during Threshold workouts :slight_smile:

If your FTP is way off - then Lamarck will be very hard. But take into account that in the next phase (build) are workouts 4x10 min at 105% so logically if you could finish them, your FTP should be 5% higher :slight_smile:

Do not get me wrong - Lamarck is great workout as an introduction to threshold workouts, and finishing it is very satysfying (especially when you start with training like me) but it has nothing to do with testing FTP when you move on to longer workouts. With similar workouts the Star King or Gray are better confirmation of FTP.

Well schitt…it appears that I do indeed just suck. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Did the Alpe today as part of the Tour of Watopia (Stage 3-A). 20 min power was 268w and 1 hour was 255w. My Ramp Test yesterday was 249w. So basically the same. :man_shrugging:

The good news is that I finished Stage 3 @ 59:58 and beat my best time up the Alpe by 3’+…and my previous best was on a trainer that was reading high by ~20w. So all in all, not a bad day.

I’ll just keep my FTP set at 260w since I am finishing the workouts at that level. May bump it up to 265…was supposed to hit Specialty this week, but since Barry-Roubaix is cancelled, I’ll go back to some base building to shore up the current fitness and then look at a later season peak.

Thanks everyone for the input.