FTP Tests by TR, Sufferfest, and Zwift

Hi All.

Been exploring different training apps and I’m having a hard time locking down on the FTP.

TR & Zwift

  • did the ramp test and they around +/-1% from each other, which is good. So that’s around 200watts for me.

Sufferfest

  • did the 4dp test on sufferfest, and this is where it got quite confusing. here my ftp was a measly 160watts. however i have a considerable 5sec, 1min, and 5min power according to the test. My suspicion is that i may be tapping into that power that’s why i was able to get the TR & Zwift ramp test numbers.

Training Experience

  • Now with TR set at ERG mode and at 200watts ftp, i can’t seem to finish the workouts at 100%. At one point i felt like i over trained after 2 training blocks.
  • with Sufferfest, ftp at 160watts seems too low, and the ftp workouts aren’t as taxing as i’m used to. I feel that I’m tapping into the 5sec, 1min, and 5min power to get to 200watts at the final moments of the ramp test.

Questions

  1. What is the usual heart rate for ftp threshold workouts
  2. Should I just lessen the FTP set on my TR app to a certain percentage? like maybe set it at 85% (170watts), or should I just stick to 160watts from the ftp i got on sufferfest.

Thanks for the input guys!

Equipement:
Wahoo Kckr Snap, heartrate monitor, cadence

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Hi
I imagine your true FTP is as you say somewhere between 160-200. If you sit at 160W you won’t benefit. I find that although I can’t maintain my Ramp test FTP in an hour TT on the TT bike it does scale reasonably well with TR SS workouts and the plans. If you have good 1 min power then yes you may be getting an overestimate of your FTP from the ramp test.
1/ I find my threshold in a 25m TT outside for about 54mins about 165bpm against a max of 178 so about 95% at the end of the race - high 150’s during the middle. Same for threshold intervals - start in the 150’s and finish in the 160’s at 90-95%.
2/ I would try the 20min test for your FTP and go for .95 of the 20 min test…that seems a good compromise between the 2 extremes mentioned.
good luck :laughing:

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If you have good short power, you probably overestimate on the ramp test (many topics about that).

FTP workouts should not feel incredibly taxing. You should be tired but never destroyed. So I would stick with lower FTP and change testing method for long FTP test (20 min or better - Kolie Moore’s test).

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At the risk of parroting what I said only a little while ago on a different thread… FTP is a crude unit, and more to the point there’s no universally agreed definition of it (hint: it’s quite probably not the power you can hold for exactly 60m).

You essentially have 2 options:

  1. Decide that you are going to work with one measurement (i…e. FTP, which is the only metric TR uses)
  2. Decide to use a training program that uses multiple metrics (like Sufferfest’s 4DP)

If you go with option 1, and you feel that threshold work is too hard at your measured FTP per the ramp test, you can either see if a different test works, or manually adjust your FTP for different workouts.

I have the same issue as you, FWIW; I have a CX background (albeit quite a while ago now) and my measured FTP per the ramp test is in the low 280s. Using that figure, workouts with sustained threshold intervals (like Lamarck) are really, seriously hard - like almost impossibly hard. If I drop my FTP by about 4%, they are very hard but manageable. On the other hand, I need to use the original FTP for VO2 max workouts, and even then quite often run them at 102-103%.

You have to work out a system that works for you. I stick with the ramp test for consistency and because it’s not too taxing mentally. I stick with TR in general because of the quality of the plans, the support, and the community here, but I have to tweak FTP to make the workouts work. YMMV.

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There is no way to talk what HR rate usual. It is very personal and even the elite athletes have no direct comparison. Furthermore, HR is so variable that just by being a little dehydrated could alter it from one test to another.

The Sufferfest 5 minutes destroy your legs lol just before the 20 minute’s test. The FTP will naturally suffer in the 20 min test.
When you get to a 20 min test without a all out 5 min, the possible results will be higher.
As also said, because many are naturally more anaerobic, a ramp test will over score one s ftp.

I got messed up with so many platforms giving me slightly different results therefore, I recommend sticking just to one like TR. FTP is just a base number, so if you train in TR, train according to the TR score. If you do a workout on SF then use theirs.

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Seems only natural that 20 min power number would suffer on the Sufferfest test since this test has a 5 second, 1 minute, 5 minute, & 20 max effort it in.
Sure doesn’t seem like the best way to hit peak numbers.

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To answer the questions:

  1. Many find that they don’t hit their max heart rate on the TR ramp test - i never manage to but get pretty close so it will come down to what your max HR is an no one else’s… If you don’t know it you soon will by training and trying some VO2 max intervals.
  2. If the workouts are too hard - as others have said you can either reduce the intensity of each workout or manually adjust your FTP downwards. The first you would have to do in each workout and the later would apply to all workouts if you change it in your profile.
    Find what works for you - we all have different numbers, strengths and weaknesses. Consistency is key but if you’re not able to finish the workouts it will put you off, so take time to experiment with what works for you so you can get the best of the blocks.

Just to clarify a bit about the Sufferfest’s 4dp protocol: A common approach to get the FTP is taking 95% of the average power of a 20-minute test. Within the Sufferfest 4dp test, they are well aware of the previous 5-minute test and don’t derive your FTP with the above-described formula but take 100% (I think).

I don’t have any data or enough knowledge to judge the approach. I just thought it’s important to clarify it a bit here. The Sufferfest also offers a ramp test protocol. I quite liked getting the data from the 4dp, but having it done once, I am not sure if I can motivate myself to do it again. It’s tough… :wink:

Out of personal experience: The more tests you do the more reliable the numbers get. I don’t want to discuss the pros and cons of the ramp test. My only remark: For a beginner cyclist it is easy to get the pacing wrong in a 20- or 60-minute effort.

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I doubt that statement. Just to clarify along that lines:

The 95% of 20min Test to determine FTP includes a prior hard 5min effort. (And even then FTP for some tends towards 90%.)

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I agree. I have done it twice and getting to know my development was gold but I am with TR now and I will do what the TR has to offer. I thought the main poster here could as suggestion keep it simple: do the TR FTP any of the tests and stick to it, leaving the SF for whenever he is back there.

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What workouts are you having difficulty on? Even with a properly set FTP, some of the TR workouts are very hard.

I use the ramp test to get a starting FTP value, then reduce that by 5%. Seems to work OK for me to set the right training intensities.

With some trial and error testing you can probably determine the right % for you by which to reduce the ramp test FTP.

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Are you sure your trainer is consistent on the power output? 5-10% either way might make for challenging / easy workouts.

What about doing a stress test in the lab short period of time after the ramp/20min tests? You will know where exacly your FTP (and not only the FTP) is and you will have some insights to make the estimation with higher precision in the future. In my case, ramp test is pretty accurate during the offseason/early base phase but there is a huge overestimation during the build period or during the season. I should stick to 20 minut test which gaves me constant pretty good estimation but during the season I just take the number from my races (mountain races, uphill ITT with big ascents). I made a few stress test in the past in a different part of a season and I know what works for me now.

P.S. FTP effort doesn’t feel that bad anyway :smiley: uck_out_tongue:

Sorry, I don’t understand. Which part do you doubt?

I just looked it up in the Sufferfest FAQ (you have to scroll down a bit):

I quote the relevant passage:

“Since the 20-minute test in Full Frontal comes after both the 5-second sprint efforts and the 5-minute test, you will not be able to hold the same 20-minute power in Full Frontal that you would in a conventional 20-minute test. Because of this, your FTP from Full Frontal is based on the full average of your 20-minute effort , rather than 95%.”

Or do you doubt that a common approach is taking 95% in a 20-minute test to determine your FTP? Just to be clear, I just say it’s a common approach and not that it’s the best way or accurate.

My doubts concern the whole statement I cited, but especially the first part.
(EDIT: I was under the assumption that was your own opinion and not just your observation.)

With regards to the first part…you can read directly from Hunter Allen here:

“…
3. Ride 5 minutes all out . Punch it and hold it! Start at a high pace, but not so high that you die at the end. You should have a little energy held in reserve to kick it toward the finish line in the last minute.

The goal of this first part of the effort is twofold: first, to open up the legs for the rest of the test, and second, to measure your ability to produce watts in the VO2max power zone. This initial 5-minute effort also helps to dispense the “freshness” that always exists at the beginning of a ride; your next effort will produce power that is more likely to be truly representative of your FTP.
…”

With regard to the second part (4DP)…

Correct, by their own documentation Sufferfest uses 100% of the 20min for FTP…but with 4DP it’s not just the 5min (as your statement suggested) but also the sprint efforts before.

(Don’t know if these sprint efforts justify for that compensation but Sufferfest will have their reasons.)

OK, I think we are talking about different things. I still struggle to follow what you are trying to tell me tbh.

a) A common approach of people is warming up, going 20 min all out and take 95% of it and that’s their FTP. Especially for people doing it outdoors I experienced that approach as widespread. I know this might be not correct and there are other protocols, like the one you mentioned from Hunter Allen. I’m just talking about what I observed commonly: People don’t do a specific protocol but rather just take their best 20 min (of a short race, Zwift ride, etc). Again, I don’t judge if that’s a good or bad way. It’s just what I see that people do.

b) You are just splitting hairs… the main point of my initial statement was Sufferfest takes 100% of the 20min power, because they take the previous efforts into account (Yes, I didn’t explicitly mention the 2x 5s power tests, nor the warm up, etc.). That was just in response to some posts that in my opinion misunderstood that and I had the impression the posters thought it was the ‘usual’ 95%. Again, no judgement from me here if that’s good or bad. My whole post was just to clarify on how Sufferfest does it to avoid a misunderstanding of their test protocol.

Maybe got lost in translation (no native speaker here) :slight_smile:. I can consent to your post.

Yes, it’s a common misconception to just take best 20min and use 95% for FTP (I see what you did there Zwift). Just wanted to explicitly clarify about the original FTP Test protocol from Allen himself.

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Thanks for the reply. I think if we take both of our posts together and see it as a collaborative effort, we managed to clarify some things for future readers. Team work! :smile:

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Yes :+1:. Did a little edit in 2 of my previous posts, so maybe the ping pong becomes less confusing.

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