I use TR every winter from now until about March but always struggle with what FTP to I put before my first ramp test. If I set the FTP higher then I feel I would test higher since I’ll get to a higher output faster on the ramps and not burn out before I get to a level that shows increase. I feel like when I leave the FTP at what it was at I always test lower. Even during the winter sometimes i just skip testing because I’ll test lower unless I significantly increase it prior to the test. I just increase or 2% or so and move on with the next block. I always found the same with the 20 and 8 min test. word counterVidMate
Pretty sure the FTP value has no effect on your ramp test. I think it is just a visual indicator/motivator. The returned value is based on a percentage of the last highest full minute of power you sustain.
If you were to set your initial FTP at say, 800 watts, the steps would be huge. You’ll spend much less time below your actual threshold and your highest 1 minute power will have a large anaerobic contribution.
So even if you don’t test anywhere near 800 watts when it’s done, you might get something that’s still stupid high.
I have always found good luck dealing with this issue/unknown by following Hunter Allen’s protocol for the 20min test (described in Training + Racing with a Power Meter). Basically, the 20min test portion of the protocol looks like a Time Trial where you start below your target FTP, ramp up to FTP and then increase during the final few minutes.
[It works great on a smart trainer in ERG mode].
As you reach your target FTP, if you are struggling (or anyplace along the way once there), you can just lower the % of your target to find a point where you can hang for about 15mins (or adjust upwards if you are feeling strong). As you reach the final 3 min ramp period, you can decide if you have something left in the tank for it, or conversely, whether you want to increase the ramp.
As for setting the initial target, its pretty safe and easy to be slightly conservative (at or perhaps 5% below target). Once you are into the first 2 minute ramp, or complete it, you will have a good sense whether the 15min straight FTP portion is something you can maintain or need to adjust upwards/downwards.
Get Faster with TrainerRoad
Sign up and download the app to start training. Available on iOS, Android, Windows and Mac devices.
Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast
This is the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. Listen to the latest episode and more.
We Are Here to Help!
Browse hundreds of articles in our Support Center or contact our world-class support team to get back on track.