Heart Rate High, FTP Low; Crappy Turbo Trainer?

Hi all,

Started back to TR recently, but having problems completing workouts. I’ll try my best to explain the issue:

  • I’m a ‘relatively’ fit cyclist. I do the turbo twice a week, long outdoor cycle at weekend; do occassional crit racing (pre-corona virus!), long distance audax events etc. Don’t own a power meter.
  • Trained using Heart Rate until getting on TR. I know my max HR is about 187 (40y/o Male); I know my FTP HR is about 167. I’d expect my sweet spot training to keep my HR in the mid to high 150s, low 160s.
  • I use a dumb trainer - Elite Supercrono Hydromag, with garmin cadence & speed sensors
  • Completed the 20m ramp test using virtual power and it gave me (an embarrassing, i think unbelievable?!) ftp of 139.
  • completing the ‘Goddard’ workout yesterday, I nearly died - the last two blocks of threshold and sweetspot had my heart rate in the high 170s. I had a max of 180 on that session. That’s nuts! I know HR can be affected by many things, but it shouldn’t veer that high. I was rested doing the workout (nothing the day before, good sleep, no booze etc).

So, I’m totally confused.

Am I actually really unfit, and the ftp number is too high (more ego brusing)?

Is my crappy Elite turbo to blame - innacurate powercurve translating into inaccurate ftp virtual power etc.

I’m going to continue with the workouts and maybe dial down the intesity a little, but just wondering if others have had a similar issue, or perhaps I’m missing something in relation to heart rate / virtual power comnbination.

Thanks for reading.

Did you do the 20-minute test, or the ramp test?

How do you know this?

No, virtual power is to blame. If it’s consistent it’ll be a good enough number to set your training zones and track your progress, but it probably has very little in common with reality, and it’s not something you should compare to anyone else (or look at as “embarrassing” :hugs:).

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Thanks for the response!

Sorry - to clarify, it was the Ramp Test only.

I’m basing my ftp hr off a % of my max HR (achieved in a horribly hard crit race). 80-85% of max HR gives you high Zone 3 / Low Zone 4, i.e. sweet spot (or at least my understanding of it). this has served well when training only with HR.

I know - comparing ftp numbers is a one way road to pointlessness…but, I’m finding the power target pushes my HR way above what I would expect for that particular effort. Again, maybe this is just the hard lesson that I’m not as fit as I though I was, so i blame my turbo :sob: :laughing:

I’m sure the issue is equipment. I had a friend who was using TR. He’d do whole rides with a 100 watt average. On a group ride, I showed him that we were doing 150 watts just soft pedaling along with the group.

If SS or threshold intevals are feeling too hard, I’d go by HR. Just back down until your HR stabilizes and the RPE feels right. If you have been racing and have some experience, SS watts should feel pretty easy. It doesn’t matter if you are not fit because it is a certain percentage of your threshold. Look at it this way. If threshold is theoretically the power you can put out for 40+ minutes then you should be able to put out SS for an hour plus. A 10 or 15 minute SS interval should be easy.

The other issue is that HR will be higher if your trainer room is hot and/or you don’t have good fans.

Ramp tests work for most folk but some folk don’t get on with them me included, I prefer a 20min test. I think my first ramp test was 265w when I did 296w for 20 min (circa 270-280w FTP). The subsequent ramp tests all went downhill (despite me getting stronger), IIRC my last ramp test was 226w. Did a 20min test and went back to 284w (circa 260-270w).
FWIW a Ramp test will only get my HR to about 90% (188bpm), whereas a 20mins test will take me to 99% (196bpm) and I am 46. My last TT averaged 183bpm for an hour. We are all different though👍

FWIW - My old trainer was an elite fluid trainer. With virtual power it estimated my FTP in the mid 300’s. when I got a smart trainer with power, my FTP dropped below 200.

Virtual power is iffy. Plus I learned the fluid trainer tended to present less resistance as the fluid warmed up. If you really need to know the number, I’d suggest getting a smart trainer or power meter.

Otherwise, just use it as a another number.

Are you making sure that the tyre pressure is consistent between rides? Things like that can make quite a difference with virtual power.

Also is the tyre clamped too hard to the trainer wheel (not sure the correct name) ? I messed this up on my old trainer and it made the ride crazy hard

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Per his “Elite Supercrono Hydromag” info, it appears to be one of the “gravity” force roller pressure designs. You are right that matching tire pressure each time is super important. Unfortunately, with the gravity loading, rider weight and even position on the bike will potentially alter the effective power curve from whatever TrainerRoad used to set their Virtual Power info.


thanks so much for the replies everyone. amazing to see how active this community is! great info and tips.
tyre pressure - i made sure they were pumped to 100psi for the workouts, but interesting to read about gravity loading and power curve etc.
overall, i think it’s time I invest in a better turbo as a starting point, as i’m committing to TR. i’ve dropped the gym membership, so i’ll divert the funds to getting something decent.
beyond that it seems i need to grit my teeth, use the number as a training guide only and keep pushing. thanks everyone.


I’d suggest looking towards this as your next purchase. It’ll allow you to get a much better snapshot of your progress compared to a fancy trainer.
It’ll also allow you to continue training with the Elite Hydrothingy. (I’ve still got my original Qubo as a backup and love it’s simplicity).

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I still use my Qubo fluid almost got used to resistance going up when tire warms up, after that big power drop at around 20min when fluid warms up. :grin:
Depending on temperature that is lately it drops at 30min (temperature in the garage is near freezing).
Together with a powermeter it’s pretty ok, keeps you shifting though.