Need Suggestions for Determining FTP with High Anaerobic Contribution

Relatively new cyclist looking to get faster, I feel like I have hit a roadblock with training on TR. After reading through the forum I believe my limiter is aerobic power and it is masked on ramp tests by higher anaerobic contributions.

History/ reasons I came to this conclusion.
-Male, aged 33 and 79Kg

-Athletic background playing football and running track (sprinting) in Highschool. No consistent aerobic endurance work.

-Started cycling in 2019 - total of 106 hours in that year and a total of 182 hours in 2020.

-Started TR in July of 2020 with first ramp test. Result was 209 FTP

-Completed SSBV1 with good success - able to complete workouts with good RPE.

-Decided to do SSBV1 again - redid ramp test at 218. During later weeks of SSBV1 had trouble with intervals - stopping inbetween them etc. however completed all workouts.

-Started SSBV2 - absolutely buried myself in the ramp test for this block and got a FTP of 225. In hindsight I believe I went too hard because of high anaerobic contribution and mentally pushing for a goal. Again later weeks of the block felt really difficult in particularly the VO2 focused workouts. Needed to decrease intensity on Spencer +2 and take breaks inbetween intervals.

-Took a week off the bike before starting GBLV. Tested at 223 FTP. Same as SSBLV2 VO2(baird +2 and bashful +2 really hard) and threshold workouts felt hard. Anaerobic focused workouts like Spanish Needle and Williamson +2 felt difficult but very doable.

-Completed the first half of GBLV and retested at 221 FTP.

Based on all this history I believe I am prone to getting a higher FTP on a ramp test then what my actual FTP is and I believe for the past couple training blocks my training zones have been set too high.

Does anyone have suggestions for using the ramp test properly or alternate testing protocols so I can accurately set my training zones?

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Or you do a long test (search for kolie moore test protocol) or you use 72% of the final minute of your ramp test (instead of 75%).

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Did you try the 20 minute test as well, to compare the result? (the 20 minute test is still in the workout library, even though the ramp test is usually talked about)

Do you ride outside much? If so, you could skip testing altogether and do some occasional maximal efforts at a range of durations then see what tools like WKO5 or intervals.icu estimate as your FTP. But I’d start with just trying some longer form FTP tests.

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Where does the 72% come from? Just curious.

Thank you,

I’ll have to give the 20 minute test a try.

I do ride outside alot, but currently winter in WNY prevents that (too much salt/ snow on the roads)

Thank you for the other info!

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I’ve found that as you do more work at or around threshold for extended periods, you become a better judge of what it feels like … which in turn helps you pace long efforts better (including longer form FTP tests). That need to ‘learn’ the feel is the main drawback compared to the ramp test, whose main benefit is supposed to be that it doesn’t need any experience of pacing.

There are threads like this with extensive discussion on ramp test vs 8 minute vs 20 minute vs other test formats:

I understand what your saying about learning the “feel”, I think TR has helped with that.

I think that I’m going to give the 20 Min test a try and see what it says. Based on current FTP I would have to hold 232 watts for 20 mins for it to be accurate. I’m not confident that I would be able to hold that for 20 mins. Which means by zones have probably been set too high this whole time.

Interestingly I feel more confident in holding 220 to 225 for 20 mins which would put the FTP around 209 to 213 which is around the 72% of the final minute of the ramp test suggestion that @markbrouns gave.

Is this part of the process? Feeling out how to accurately personalize the tests for yourself?

Hi,
I come from a very similar anaerobic background (ice hockey) and was also having difficulty with long threshold efforts.

For me, i think it was partly due to ramp overestimating ftp but i believe the main reason was that my mind was not used to sustaining the incomfort associated with threshold efforts. Give me any 10sec to 2mins max effort and i was happy to burry myself, but the long sting of sweet spot and threshold work was hard to tolerate. Fortunately with time I got better at understanding and accepting the pain. I think give yourself time to build your aerobic base and “pain tolerance” to long efforts with sweet spot base 1, and maybe lower by 5% if you need to. Anyways thats my 2 cent from personal experience

Btw after a year of training I believe the ramp still overestimates my FTP, but i am able to finish the workouts so I am happy. On the flip side, you may have to increase the difficulty of vo2 workouts and they may feel too easy for you.

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Yes. Try the Kollie Moore test after you do a 20 minuter. I think the KM baseline test is actually a good experience. You start lower than your target and do that for 10 minutes, then do the target FTP for 15 minutes, and then you gradually increase power for another 10+ minutes until you fail. If you fail along the way, then the target was too high.

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The first person to suggest estimating FTP from a ramp test (about 20 y ago): Ric Stern.

I’m in the same boat. I lower my ramp-test FTP by 5%.

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@DaveWh
When you say you lower it 5% do you take 95% of TRs result and use that as your FTP or do you take 70% of the max one minute power in the test? I tried the math and don’t know if it matters because both numbers come back so close.

Thank you for the suggestion!

I reduce the recommended FTP by 5%.

I’ve made other changes also - to the TR training plans. In particular - the Low Volume sweet spot base plans have intervals that are too short and too high an intensity for my liking. I’ve replaced a lot of the threshold intervals with with longer intervals in the 85-90% range.

I still do VO2max workouts, but have replaced the likes of Spencer and Kaiser with hard start intervals.

These changes have made things much more sustainable for me.

Start with reducing your FTP, and stick to the TR plans. See if that helps first.

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You’ve raised a few points in addition to your main question. Try a range of different protocols and you will get more data points to get comfort about the number that feels right. Zwift estimates it. Xert offers a free trial to estimate it from your data with no testing required. A 20 minute protocol executed well (& with target wattage in mind to pace it properly) is good too. Sufferfest offer a free trial and you perform the 3DP test which will give you the information you seek. With that said, I too am more anaerobic and working on aerobic endurance (Weight 74kg, PP – 1300, FTP – 275), and compared with my other FTP values have found the ramp test fairly close when executed as prescribed.

From the outset with the things you mention about being a relative beginner, being consistent in training, your age and pushing yourself, a natural increase in your FTP is in line with expectation/not unexpected. The difference over 12-18months is ~10w, which is ~5%, again not unreasonable. Perhaps even on the lower side where larger gains can be made early on in the training journey.

Is there a question about whether it is accurate? For sure the ramp test can bias a certain style of execution and even be gamed, but like all the FTP tests the result is largely a function of the quality of execution. But as a thought experiment, let’s assume it is accurate, but then acknowledge it is accurate only at that point in time under those conditions. Your FTP right now is different to yesterday, to tomorrow, due to all sorts of variables; your fatigue, the lunch you ate, stress at home, at work, an argument you had with your partner, lack of sleep from the kids waking you up the night before, taking the test in the evening vs. morning, whatever, so many things changing daily that impact performance it can only ever be an estimate. It will never will be perfect hence the need to keep retesting to keep training where it needs to be, whether via testing protocol, racing or training apps that can infer your FTP based on performance you have demonstrated to it. But get more data points and you will get more comfort that the number ‘feels’ right.

And a fraction sideways but following the above, my opinion and perhaps one shared by others is that the precision of training intervals to the single digits is not necessary, not beneficial and leads to misplaced attempts to pinpoint a value, potentially amongst a sea of variables with lesser precision. You’re doing good, keep it up.

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I’m in the same boat. Started last year with 262 peaked at 309 and then hit a brick wall. Build was way too hard and all threshold and over unders where killing. Tested 2 time 301 with the ramp in December and decided to throw a 20 minute test in the mix. Tested at 293… below the 300 mark (and therefore with my 75 kg also below the 4w/kg mark… :frowning:). But put away pride and everything and started a new block with a 3% lower FTP. SS , Threshold and over unders feel very productive now and I up some of the vo2max workouts. Everything feels good again and I can see the (real :wink:) 300 and 4w/kg again, maybe for the next test, maybe 1 further down the line, but it’s all feeling so much more productive

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You’ve gotten lots of advice on different ways to asses ftp, however I am not certain your ftp is off bases in this description. Spencer +2 is hard for absolutely everyone. There are a large number of folks who can’t complete 3 minute intervals @ 120% and i promise you it’s absolutely excruciatingly painful for 99% of those that can. As Coach Chad mentions, some of these workouts are ‘short & sweet, short sweet & painful’. Baird +2 and Bashful +2 have IFs of 0.92 and 0.94 for an hour, that’s really hard for everyone as well, nobody finished a vo2 Max workout and says that wasn’t bad. Threshold work is difficult, I saw Chad mentioned on Strava that a recent threshold work was a ‘Good (but painful) workout’. I’m not just suggesting you Rule 5, but if you’ve been able to successfully complete everything except Spencer +2 and just find yourself having to dig deep on the rest, I’m not sure that’s a sign of an inflated ftp.

Good luck with your additional assessments and training.

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Thank you for the advice. The fact that my FTP could be correct is something I should not ignore. I’m planning on doing the 20 min test to compare and I’ll see where I’ll go after that.

To follow up on this thread, I took the 20 min FTP test. I feel like I paced it well, I averaged 223 watts for the 20 minutes. Based on that TR put my FTP at 211 (10 watts lower than ramp test). I accepted the decrease and I’ll keep training from there.

Interestingly that is within 1-2 watts of taking 95% of the ramp test result.

Thanks everyone for the advice!

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