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

Really interesting to read the thoughts my OP has generated. Thanks.
I agree that the 2 x 20 isn’t a recognised protocol - but I thought I’d give it a go and it was referenced by @Nate_Pearson on the Ramp Test Podcast. I almost wish I’d done the 30 min ‘Friel test’ or an actual 20 min FTP test as absolute confirmation, but the Eichorn workout is a good one and contributed to my weeks training. Additionally, I knew that the real indication would come with Carp Peak (this week) and Bashful+2 next week. So far so good - but a weekend watching the Six Nations Rugby, with :beers: may not be an ideal prep for Bashful+2 next week - perhaps time for Baxter tomorrow!!
My huge learning here is whilst we all seek training optimisation, this is tough to achieve through one binary test. It is great to know I am not totally alone - but also that I need to understand what works for me. By reading and listening to ideas, theories and articles on this topic over the past month I have enriched my understanding of what I am capable of and what I need to focus on. That can only help me achieve this optimisation - so thanks TrainerRoad and the Forum.

4 Likes

I hope it didn’t come off like I was crapping on your test because that wasn’t the goal. I’ve heard of a 2x20 test but 2 min rest just to give a short break. That still gets you in the ballpark and clearly its worked for you.

Like you, I’ve noticed the ramp test is really hard and doesn’t give me the same number a 30 min test does because its been months since doing Vo2 work. That’s okay. Theres a ton of people who think “no way I want to do a 30 min all out test” because they don’t do TT’s and really they’re looking to get a ball park number for training. Its all about finding what works best for you, finding zones that are appropriate.

For example my 30 min test gives me an FTP result of 350 watts. The only ramp test I did gave FTP result of 315 (I’d imagine its user error as I wasn’t mentally strong enough, and I hadn’t trained VO2 so when it started getting really hard I wanted to quit). Had I just taken that 315 I for sure wouldn’t have been working as hard. But doing the 30 min test I have zones that are more appropriate for me. Working through the build/speciality I might try the ramp to see where I’m at but doing it off of base training I know that won’t work for me.

Not at all. :+1::grinning:

1 Like

After 12 weeks of doing only Sweet Spot and Threshold workouts my FTP from today’s ramp test went from 305 down to 298 (-2.3%). :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Obviously my high end power has shrivelled, but still…comparison to the previous ramp test shows this ramp to be 15w lower across the endurance time frames. :man_shrugging:

I’ll give the Friel 30min test a go in a couple of days.

2 Likes

Curious how the 30 min test treats you. I haven’t tested in quite some time.

I wouldn’t even bother adjusting anything with a test that changes less than 5%.

Any way of seeing what your TTE is? Seems like that’s what you were training.

(You could probably get a guess by doing one of the “Progression” Tests from TP)

I am due to retest again a week tomorrow. Due to my availability I’m going to do it Friday or Saturday next week.
Despite doing a lot better at VO2 Max I’ve not decided whether to do Ramp or the 20 min test. Accuracy is the key thing for me and I’ve been finding the sweet spot & U/Os getting a lot easier (my HR agrees) at the end of this period, hinting at a FTP increase.
Curiosity is saying do the ramp again, but my head is saying the 20 min test (which I have no issue enduring!) will be more accurate.

I’ll do a Baseline (TP) test this week. Even though it won’t be a true TTE, I think it’ll represent my power better than the ramp.

Interesting that my increase in muscular endurance is very noticeable. I have a test hill I ride on my daily commute – guessing ~1km @4% – and last week it was a total breeze. Did the whole thing seated and it felt so easy – even on my 48x16 single speed! Also went for a few short sweet spot rides and same deal, never out of the saddle, just cruising.

So maybe the decrease in power is off-set by increases in other necessary metrics.

(I just looked at the calculations for that Baseline test and it might put me right at my current ramp derived FTP of ~305. So I’ll either skip the test or do the test and count it as a Threshold workout.)

2 Likes

The last ten minute “gradual power increase” will help you pinpoint FTP really well.

It’s a good workout either way.

1 Like

Yup. I figure ~2w/minute increase would be enough of a challenge to establish a respectable new FTP.

Did the Baseline test today:

Only went 33min instead of 35min minimum. My pacing abilities are a bit rusty but another 2min might have given me another 1-2w in FTP considering my average power was ~5w over the target.
New PRs in 12-33min power.

In the end I wound up with a 305w FTP which is the same as my pre-SSBHV2 ramp test.

As suspected, doing 3 months of SS and Threshold work has truncated my higher end power but has given me more muscular endurance as well as (probably) a higher fractional utilization of VO2max (I’m guessing from ~83% to ~86%). Yesterdays ramp test definitely showed the former but not the latter (hence the 2% drop in FTP).

I think it’s well worth using different testing protocols to match the type of training you are doing in order to get more defined and realistic metrics.

4 Likes

@Captain_Doughnutman how did you obtain FTP from that test? The TP article talks about using those tests as input to WKO4 modeled FTP if I’m reading it correctly.

@stevemz I’d like to understand your comment… the last 10 minutes of the Captain’s test were 320W.

The average from the full time period is a good estimate for FTP, provided you went long enough.

The gradual power increase helps calibrate sustainable versus unsustainable. You can usually notice a dramatic increase in physiological signs when you are deep into a long effort and you go above threshold (HR starts to rise quickly, breathing picks up).

1 Like

Thanks, this time I searched on the word “average” in the TP article and somehow I skimmed over the last sentence:

Before doing any of the following FTP tests, you must do a long and thorough warm-up. Your FTP will be equal to the average power of the entire test, and I double check it with the WKO4 modeled FTP.

FWIW my Ramp Test result, the long test, and WKO4’s estimate were all within a few watts of each other.

2 Likes

I’ve had equivalent results (within a few watts) with the 8-min, 20-min, and 60-min tests. And the ramp test seemed accurate up until my vo2max plummeted - I’m currently feeling cooked at 90 seconds which is a really short duration.

Thanks for sharing the baseline test and results!

In “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” chapter 3 starts off with different ways of estimating FTP, from least complexity to most complexity:

  1. Power Frequency Distribution Chart
  2. Routine Steady Power
  3. Normalized Power
  4. One Hour Time Trial
  5. Critical Power
  6. 20-min Test Protocol

Yesterday I did a cat 5 crit on a flat course with 4 corners (the 3rd corner was rounded off a bit), each lap about 0.7 miles (1.13km). The first 3 laps were around 75% ftp for me, and then a 3 person team attacked and 4 of us followed.

During the break, those 5 minutes had me hanging on at 113% ftp when I finally gave up in an attempt to not completely blow up:

Yeah, 37% anaerobic and 17% vo2max for those 5 minutes and in retrospect I can see why my brain started listening to body. Probably could have held on, because they were also nearing their limit and not long after slowed down. Unfortunately I gave myself about 45 seconds of recovery and the Peloton passed me.

At that point I figured “why not see if I can really hold threshold” because I’ve been struggling with my breathing and vo2max lately.

And so for me, the crit turned into a 25 minute time trial, where I was pulling 2 college guys and other random stragglers that the mentors would try and get back into the race. Stayed mentally strong and pushed thru some breathing struggles, big win for me personally. Never looked at my bike computer once during the entire crit, just wanted to go hard and put in a well paced effort while gaining confidence taking corners at speed.

And so with that backstory, here are the results using the estimation techniques outlined in “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”

1. Power Freq Distribution Chart. From the book, a good estimate of your FTP can be obtained by identifying a drop-off in power above threshold, here is mine from the race with 15W bins:

This estimate put ftp at 240-255W ftp.

The book also mentions its good for heart rate, which put mine at 165bpm. For variety here is the HR graph for the crit with a dotted line at 165bpm:

2. Routine Steady Power. Here is a power graph with a little bit of smoothing because its easier to see trends versus TR power graph:

The dotted line is at 237W, so that is my eyeball estimate using routine steady power.

3. Normalized Power. I pulled this straight out of TR, its 236:

4. One-Hour Time Trial. This was only 25 minutes of time trialing. However for those 25 minutes my average power was 232W.

5. Critical Power. This involves a series of 3-40 minute all-out efforts, which I didn’t do.

6. 20-min FTP protocol. The protocol is:

  • Warm-up (20 min warmup; 3x1 min fast pedaling; 5 min easy riding)
  • Main set (5 min all-out; 10 min easy riding; 20 min time trial)
  • Cool-down

I arrived early and did 10 minutes on course reconnaissance, then attended the beginners race program which involved 30 minutes of cornering drills. So the warm-up was covered.

Which brings us to the main set. The 5 minute all-out (breakaway) was immediately followed by 25 min time-trial, without 10-min easy riding. Ignoring that, I selected the 25 minutes and used TR’s analytics to see my best 20-min was 240W, and best 8-min was 251W. Some of you are asking where did 8-min come from? Hey, I didn’t follow 20-min protocol so why not toss in 8-min data too? That gives a couple FTP estimates:

  • 228W (240*.95)
  • 226W (251*.9)

Summary

Using the techniques of estimating ftp from “Training and Racing with a Power Meter” on this race, I get the following:

  • 240-255W from power distribution
  • 237W from routine steady power
  • 236W from normalized power
  • 232W from “one-hour TT” even though it was only 25 minutes
  • 228W from not-quite-20-min test
  • 226W from not-quite-8-min test

Hope that helps folks with some more tools to use!

5 Likes

After the race on Feb 24, did Taku-1 recovery on Monday the 25th and then too a week off due to allergies. Then next workout was ramp test on Tuesday March 5:

  • 233W from ramp test

Nicely lines up with estimates from race.

1 Like

Hi Steve, I don’t think I;#'ve missed anything - but as I start looking at getting into indoor training again in earnest soon have you heard any news here? Thanks in advance.
Rich

Very similar to you. Ramp test gives me an FTP approx 10% lower than that derived from the 8min test. I’m a triathlete, hence the steady state Sweet Spot/Threshold sessions are easier than the VO2max sessions - when using the higher FTP value.

I use the 8min test, because:

  1. It gives me a higher FTP (always good for the ego).
  2. It gives me a decent workout (2 x 8mins at 110% FTP).

I do wonder, whether for athletes like ourselves - ones that get a higher FTP from 8min test vs ramp test, that we’ll ultimately hit a point in our training where the VO2 max constraint will cap our FTP increases - and hence, inferring a training block to push up power at VO2max would be beneficial (to raise ceiling for further FTP increases).

1 Like