Is the Ramp Test right for VO2 Max constrained cyclists on sustained power plans?

So genuinely having read a few threads and listened again to the the Podcast 158 (Ramp Test) I do want to share some constructive feedback on the new(ish) Ramp Test, which I feel can limit VO2 Max constrained cyclists who have a high(er) ability to ride at threshold for a longer duration. I know the topic is similar to another but I think it is important as it relates to the individual plan, and therefore workouts, that users may be following.

Firstly I’m a big TrainerRoad advocate and having used Zwift am now only using this platform as it fits my goals brilliantly and I also think the platform is great value and the team’s passion for their work shines through. Additionally, its worth noting that whilst uber-competitive, I’m not actually obsessed by my FTP number. But I do train hard and want to see progression and train at the correct level of intensity to maintain that progression as a time-crunched cyclist.

So I completed a Ramp Trest last night at the start of my Sustained Build Plan having had a really successful SSBBII LV, using a Ramp defined starting FTP of 278 in early Jan. Yet despite completing Lamarck with an increased last set and Leconte equally comfortably (relatively speaking!) at an increased FTP of 286 (post Lamarck on Chad’s in-ride instructions) the Ramp last night stated a FTP of 278 as I literally ground to a halt stepping from a 370 ramp to 388 at 19 minutes. Whilst I was cooked for me it was the intensity that I feel did for me and my inability to sustain a high power at VO2 Max.

So based on my strong performance on Leconte, in particular, I visited the Forum threads and listened to the Podcast again. Here the team do a great job in explaining the rationale and the thousands of tests that the test is based on and I don’t necessarily want to detract from it. But @Nate_Pearson does concede towards the end of the Podcast that if you feel you have underperformed to try a 2 x 20 minute workout to see how you fair.

So tonight I did this setting an FTP of 290 and increasing the intensity to get two 20 minute intervals of 290 and then 295. The first felt pretty much ok and the second hard but never out of control or at risk of failure. The screen shot is below.

So I have always struggled with VO2 Max workouts in TR. I know they’re hard - but the intensity means that until recently I have had to dial down the intensity to complete the tests. Yet I find sweet spot and threshold workouts productive but very achievable. Whilst I know you can say to just dial-up those workouts my thoughts are that if like me you are following a sustained power build or century plan you actually want to be dialling down the VO2 sessions, which are less frequent and have a more relevant FTP for the SS and threshold workouts.

So in summary, I am suggesting that for VO2 Max constrained cyclists like myself, who have a significantly better aerobic capability, there is a place for an alternative testing protocol if their training is likely to be conducted at sweet spot and threshold. We need an FTP that is accurate so that each and every workout can maximise the training benefit.


Due to the inherent variability in VO2Max utilization, each test will have upsides and downsides and will thus lend itself towards specific types of workouts.

If you choose a single test that suits your abilities, chances workouts that aren’t in your phenotype category will be too hard. Just guessing here, but I’m guessing that if you are VO2Max constrained (or rather, you have a high fractional utilization of your VO2max), you are going to struggle to complete VO2 workouts at 120%.

I know that Nate and Chad have some ideas on how to address this variability and targeting and I’m looking forward to seeing what they end up building.


I’ll also add that there are numerous ways to do your own informal testing and to modify the TR workouts to suit your results, there just isn’t a programatic way to do it right now. I’ve been doing it for a while.

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Thanks for the response. Me too!!
I’ve seen on some other topics this being intimated - and I think it will be a huge addition to the platform.
So, as an aside, I’ve actually grown to like VO2 workouts for the sheer challenge - but the events I mainly train for are all longer and hilly, so my training needs to be structured for this - and I want this training to be set at the optimum level.

I’m like you as well. Long history of sustained power training for triathlons. Recently finished SSB2 and was kinda surprised at how I got though Mary Austin and Leconte without too much trouble. This made me wonder if my RAMP test number wasn’t high enough because I don’t have a history of training the VO2 Max levels that you hit at the end of the RAMP test.

That said, these days I am more interested in being a well rounded cyclist so doing VO2 type workouts are more appealing to me now. I’m cool sticking with the RAMP number for now and am really curious to see what the build phase does to me as compared to SSB1 and SSB2.

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I’m similar to you but perhaps not as extreme.

What I’m interested in is: Just before you did the Lamarck / Leconte combo, how did Spencer +2 go? What FTP did you set for that, did you complete it, and how did it feel?

Hi Martin,
So it was absolutely fine. You’ll see below my HR coped really well. But I think my FTP was already set too low as i had responded well to the post Christmas training and was doing dry Jan!!
The true test will for me will come next week doing the VO2 session Bashful+1 at an FTP I set post the 2x20min workout.
Spencer+2 spikes were 334w and although 3 mins long were tough but managable. Bashful+2 will be 363w and whilst only 1 min long they will hurt me a tonne more, compounded by only 30 sec recovery. Will be an interesting session!

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So just to confirm - i used the same FTP. 276. Im now using 290 and the last under over (Carp Peak) was absolutely fine using this.

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If you’re confident in your FTP analysis (and it sounds like you are) there’s also nothing wrong with applying your own modified formula to the Ramp Test calculation. It currently gives you 0.75x your best 1-minute power. You could instead try 0.76 or 0.77 if that gives you a more realistic value. When TR began the Ramp Test they were using those values for a while and settled on 0.75 as best average for most. (Of course you’d have to make that your consistent testing protocol)

I agree with the theory. You want your FTP to set your threshold training range first and foremost. If getting that right means adjusting targets for VO2 intervals, that’s fine. In fact, Coach @Chad talks about adjusting intensity targets to taste in the instructions of almost every VO2 workout (but you never see such talk in threshold workouts).

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And, another older thread on similar with a ton of discussion:

you’ve done 2 x 20 @ 290W but this was done without the pre 5 minute all out effort that you would find on an FTP test. I’d expect you to be able to bang out 290W without that based on your ramp test. Doing a 20 minute effort is not the same as having an FTP of 290.

You can obviously bang out good power so a standard 20 minute test should be a real good comparison with the ramp test.

Yes, there is 5 min interval that precedes a 20 min ftp test but this wasn’t a 20 min ftp test, it was a 2 x 20 workout for him to judge if his ftp is set correctly. If he managed to complete the second without going into the red then he’d probably be able to ride at the wattage of the first interval for a full 40+ minutes. Seems like a good test to me!

Right, great. The interesting test will be the vo2 workouts at your new FTP. Keep us posted when Bashful happens!

If he’s anything like me he’ll struggle with 2+ minute intervals set at 120% ftp. I’m in a similar situation, I’m okay with long sustained power but my legs fail with 90sec+ 120% ftp intervals. Just suck at VO2 and will be working on it more in my next plan.

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I’m betting it is setting interval intensities based on a recent (90 days? 28 weeks?) PD chart. If they have enough data to say people should be able repeat n fraction of their PB y times for z duration… then workouts build themselves almost.

(Blink twice if I’m close.)


Maybe they’ll make you do an optional all-out 3 minute test after you finish the ramp test?

Might give you a good idea of your repeatable vo2 power.

While the Coggan test for 20 min us an “all out” 5 min before hand I know that cyclists like the OP and people similar will really struggle with that. A 5 minute effort, telling someone to hold 120% can just wreck their legs, or possibly not be able to hold that. For someone who has not been working on VO2 efforts, something in the range of 108-110% is going to be more appropriate for that.

I agree in principal the 2x20 workout he did was flawed to determine FTP. The 5 min recovery is too much. Many others suggest a 2x20 with a 2 min break to give an accurate number. Or just do a 30 minute test and take that number (which I have done for years, the good old Friel test). 30 minutes all out on the trainer is not fun but I feel its very accurate.

So my takeaways from what @Rich76 is experiencing is this:

  1. For some athletes highly trained in sustained power and not well trained in VO2 max work, a 20 min test may provide a better assessment and provide a more accurate FTP for future sustained power (Sweet Spot, Over/Under, Threshold) workouts. Using the 20 min Test FTP would optimize the training benefit of these sustained power workouts.

  2. But by using this FTP from the 20 min test, the VO2 max workouts are likely going to be very difficult and may need to be scaled back. A solution for those on ERG trainers would be do try and do these in Resistance mode.


I have no knowledge of what TR is working on other than what they’ve hinted on the podcast and on the forum.

The workouts also never build themselves. Even WKO4’s optimized intervals, which is the closest that exists right now, is more a set of guidelines rather than an exact prescription.

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Agree, This is a limitation of the ramp test, or for any one individual test for that matter.

I think there are at least three tests needed to more accurately build an athlete profile.

  1. A threshold test, something like the 20 min test. Main point is that it needs to be long enough so that anaerobic contribution is minimal (unlike ramp, where this can skew the results).

  2. A VO2max test. Eg 5 mins max. Or could maybe use the ramp test.

  3. A test to estimate LT1 - the point where anaerobic metabolism/lactate production starts to increase. A trainer-based test to determine this is a little trickier that the two above, but I’m sure it could be figured out.

And there could be more tests needed to profile sprint power, like 5 sec or 1 min power.

Not all users may do all of these tests - but that’s fine, leave people the option of doing just the ramp test instead.

FWIW - the ramp test is the other way for me. Sets my FTP too high. I did Washington last week (0.90 IF) and it was brutal. 5% reduction on last interval and 2 back pedals.