Negative Results: Ramp Test

A cycling friend I ride with often has been doing Trainer Road Adaptive for a while now. He is performing the prescribed workouts well, no issues completing even the hard ones. He just did another ramp test yesterday - he said he felt great going into it. But it resulted in a 10W reduction.

I can’t believe he actually got weaker over the last few weeks of structured training. I imagine he just didn’t execute the test well for any of a number of possible reasons. Bad day, didn’t sleep really well, stress at work, accumulated fatigue, whatever.

He plans to go with the -10W until the next ramp test. Seems to me he should be at least as strong as the prior ramp test (and likely a little stronger after several weeks of solid TR training). So, leave it as-is.

Advice?

From my point of view the FTP will help the platform to determine the watts zone, if he is already tackeling good the workout and he reduce his FTP his will be completing his workout easier, unless he feels overtrain, if he was me I leave it the same way. The question here is how he performance his prior test it was the exact protocol?

This is the same FTP protocol he has used in the past (ramp test)… He is experienced in doing the ramp test. So the question is: a point-in-time ramp test result that appears contrary to actual results from TR training over the last few weeks… trust it and lower your future workout stress, or ignore it?

Every ramp test I did, until I stopped doing them, got lower but I got more sustainable and a lot of big pbs last season. FTP is just one metric and if he’s improving I wouldn’t worry about it. There’s lots of discussions on the subject, including a recent podcast, but whilst the ramp test is ideal for the majority and has lots of benefits for them (low stress and easier paced) for a limited number of outliers it either over or under predicts. AT aims to dial those outliers in and ensure that they are training at level which makes them faster, the important metric to me.

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What kind of plan is he following? And what volume compared to prior to the first test?

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i’ve had tests that didn’t go as expected, but after almost two years of structured training i know if it’s really off, or i’m just not as fit. But a lot of that has to do with experience and how workouts feel. If he’s sure he’s nailing the workouts and not barely hanging on, i’d leave it the same for now.

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Don’t hesitate to try the 8 min or 20 min ftp test. Ramp just doesn’t work for me personally (even though I love short v02 stuff).

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10W is nothing. I’d stick with the previous FTP and carry on in AT.

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@HLaB Hi HLab, i wonder if AT can sort an incorrect FTP. It can certainly sort out how hard or how easy some workouts can feel, but i’m not sure if that equates to sorting out that you are training in the zone you think you are training in.

For example, if you over achieved in the Ramp, then wanted to do a Z2 endurance ride, you could choose an endurance ride but actually be doing Tempo without knowing it and still find it relatively easy.

Maybe at the higher end workouts AT would reduce workouts if it seen failures, but a user might then not be getting prescribed time/duration workouts that they could possibly achieve, had the FTP level been correctly set.

But i’m not sure :rofl:

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Great point. I bumped my FTP up 20W slowly (5W/wk) over the last few weeks from the first and only ramp test I did about a month ago… because it didn’t seem correct. The Endurance workouts are easy (but to your point they might be closer to Tempo now). But the VO2Max and Threshold workouts are really hard. I can do them. Sometimes mid VO2Max interval I have to stand up for say 30 secs. But they are doable. I assume if I can complete even the hard workouts… that my +20W FTP setting is better for me? My HR stayed consistent during the six four minute 106% of FTP intervals. The little surges in the intervals was when I stood up. The 22 min cool down was way to easy so I flipped to resistance mode and rode at a level that felt good.

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Possibly, I am just going on Nates podcast description when he describes dialling outliers with imprecise FTP estimates in through AT. AT (for now anyway) definitely won’t adjust anyone’s FTP values, it’ll just adjust workouts eventually to account for a incorrect estimate, or at least that’s how he described it :exploding_head::joy:

I think if you tested too high and found a Endurance workout relatively easy it would be zoned right and not Tempo though. If you found it a little bit taxing it would be Tempo but AT would adapt future workouts so the did feel easy in future. :exploding_head: I could be wrong here too though :joy:

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@dbrillha best ask @windwarrior, he seems to know what he’s talking about and I don’t want to give you duff info. :rofl:

Not sure you should need to stand up though even if it’s just to relieve the legs a bit.

When I do Threshold my heart gets gradually higher (+2-3bpm) at the end of each interval until i’m approaching HRmax on the end of later intervals…

Are you close to HRmax on each interval?.. (your peaks look consistent but it’s maybe because you’re fully recovered going into them.)

Maybe yours is the way it should be, i’m not sure.

@HLaB :grin: I dunno, I know the zones are not black and white but if i never wore a heart monitor and never looked at PM, i wouldn’t really know the difference between Z2 and Tempo…not for a while anyway… maybe i’d get hungry quicker :rofl:

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Hard to comment on your FTP from the power/HR graph, and there can be a learning curve on any test including the ramp test. Also, even with a an all-out effort the ramp test can under-estimate and over-estimate ftp. I’ve had a couple of really low estimates from a ramp test, after a year of doing ramp tests.

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I test as much as 50w lower on the ramp than I do on a 8 minute test. 50w is a huge discrepancy so I’ve tossed out the ramp test personally. There is a bigger learning curve to the longer steady supra-threshold efforts, but I’m of the opinion that they have a much bigger potential for growth as a cyclist as holding and pacing these sorts of efforts is a good skill set to have. The draw backs are that they are designed in a manner that makes freshness and pacing practice much more crucial, so the test itself becomes a breakthrough workout if you assume an increase in FTP… that’s a tough sell for a lot of people. If TR can figure out how to test less often or at all and still deliver accurate training zones, they’ll have a winner.

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I’ve also had a few low ramp ftp estimates, something like 190 when I was doing 90% intervals at 220. Feel that I understand why, but the explanation doesn’t matter. Like you I tossed out the result and manually set ftp to something reasonable. However after a couple other low estimates, I simply stopped using the ramp test rather than come up with my own multiplier (higher than 75% one-minute power). The flip side are those people that see the ramp over-estimate ftp, and if they accept estimate will end up way over target especially on over-unders and threshold efforts. AT improves things a bit, but you can be hard headed and game the system and end up digging yourself into a hole.

A couple days ago I stopped at LBS to get my derailleur adjusted, and the owner wanted to talk with me about 20 minute tests. He races bmx, has a wall of trophies, and a 2000W initial kick and 200rpm repeatable top end cadence. Perfect for bmx I guess. I show him my Saturday 10 minute pre-test pacing effort at 290W, and he says “I’m going to target 400W for 20 minutes” :rofl: I say laugh and say go for it, lets see how soon you blow up. So he pulls out Garmin Connect and sees his all-time 1-min power is 550W and bravely says “I’m going to target 380W for 20 minutes” :rofl: I’m like, dude, look at your 20 minute all-time best, its not even close to 300W! Awkward moment lol.

@dbrillha

only got so far in this thread as @Crownan advice - stick with that

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The ramp test is just a tool to hopefully put a person in the right training zones so that they complete workouts, and allow them to progress their fitness. It is one way to attempt to estimate FTP. For some people it is somewhat accurate, for others it severely overestimates or underestimates someone’s ability. It also is just a snapshot in time of how well someone could perform on a given day, with so many factors such as fatigue playing a part.

With all that being said, if your friend is completing his workouts, I would not fret over the 10 W decrease, and probably keep the FTP the same. If he starts struggling, then bump it down.

Also, be careful with constantly manually bumping up your FTP…5W per week=20 watts in less than a month.

I stopped doing ramp tests when this happened to me. I had objectively improved in terms of the type/difficulty of workouts I could do, but got a lower number from the ramp test.

In the short term I bumped FTP conservatively (5w). Longer term I read some great threads on here and worked up to doing long threshold efforts (I used Unicorn +1 as an FTP proxy after a threshold progression using TR library workouts). I then read the closed (IIRC) Empirical Cycling podcast thread… and now use Kolie’s protocol as my FTP test at key points in the season (maybe only test 3 or 4 times per season now).

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Off the couch and on a pro team in no time! Similarly I have heard friends and co-workers claim 350-380W FTP at 140-170 lbs with no results (or data) to back that up. When I dropped one of them (relatively easily) on a climb a few years back I started understanding the disconnect and the absolute ego we attach to that number. :joy:

My all-time PEAK fitness was maybe 4.2 W/Kg, when you’re claiming 5+ you should be able to easily lose me on a climb… jus’ sayin’

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