Ramp or 20min FTP suitability

Hi Everyone,

Ever since the Ramp test was released I’ve begun to ponder on whether the 20min FTP and the Ramp test are perhaps suited to a particular rider style or physiology. Where Racers possibly more comfortable in a VO2 / Maximal effort state versus a TT or Triathlete more of a Steady state or 20min sustained effort, broadly speaking of course.

Some background, I completed the Ramp as a prefer not to suffer for a full hour. I made it to 422w with 406w being the last fully completed step. My new FTP is 306w @ 3.92w/kg.

Since the test I’ve enrolled in the Mid Intensity - Mid Volume Rolling Road Race Plan, and I’ve found this quite taxing and had to dial back intensity on a few intervals in order to complete. Which has made me introspect on possible influences; I’ve already discounted nutrition, sleep, recovery, ambient temperature as these are all quite controlled and monitored.

  1. Is an athlete able to exceed expectation on an FTP which inadvertently posts a disproportionate training intensity (load) than is sustainable? Presumably not as the definition of an FTP to get your maximum sustainable power.

  2. My physiology is more suited to Road Racing and sprint efforts, where FTP is a estimation of 60min maximal effort. I could never sustain 306w for 60min so 95% of my Lactate Threshold is unobtainable and therefore a false estimate? 90% or even possibly 85% may well be a more accurate calculation.

  3. TT and Triathlete’s may find performing a 20/30 or 60min steady state therefore FTP is more accurate for these athletes vs a Crit or Road racer?

  4. Do I personally require more rest than the programme provides?

  5. Should my Plan be so tough that I should be at breaking point in the latter stages of the workout?

I guess an overarching principle of FTP test is that it serves as a base line metric from which to gauge a athletes current state of fitness and it is up to the athlete to monitor themselves and dial back where they’re struggling.
Tough to do when you’ve got a no quit attitude and dialing back is perceived weakness when you FTP test says you should be able to perform at the prescribed intensities.

I’d love to know your thoughts.


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My view is that FTP only tells part of the picture, but it is a good way to weight workouts. A more detailed power curve can be more useful in determining strengths and weakness. Also figuring out what kind of racing you want to do can influence the type of sessions you want to do in order to target limiters.

Knowing your 10s, 30s, 1min, 3min and 8min power can give a good idea of what your capable of, and what you can target.

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The various FTP tests are good estimations for many people, but not strictly one size fits all. You may indeed find the Ramp Test and its (.75 x highest 1-minute power) formula misses your individual realistic FTP. How can you tell? Have you looked at this TR blog piece yet?


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Thx had a read through the blog.

I think my power profile is suited to faster higher intensity efforts thus I ease past those intervals on VO2 sessions, but the moment it dips into 2-4min VO2 intervals I’m seriously struggling. This might be an intentional exercise to force adaptation but on the flip side, my power curve may not be exactly suited.

To reduce my FTP after 2wks of having completed my test seems a little unusual. Rest, nutrition, sleep etc have all been quite consistent.

I may dial FTP back by a few % and then ramp up the intensity in my individual workouts depending on how I feel.

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Thx Andy,

Yeah I’ve pencilled in a PPT after my A race in 6weeks.

Feel my Threshold power curve requires some attention.

Also, on the podcast the guys have often talked about a workout like Lamarck (4x10 min. at 100% FTP!) as a good measure of your FTP accuracy.

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@P4_Pat, I think this is a tremendously interesting point you bring up, and I’m somewhat surprised that you have not had more responses to this topic. I would be very interested to hear from @Nate, @chad, @Jonathan, given they have discussed this on the podcast. I remember Nate being excited that they had a massive sample size of over 7000 ramp test, which would be far greater now. I think it would interesting to see some of the data and statistical analysis that was completed.

For someone who is racing or doing group rides regularly at an aggressive pace, and therefore has a decent training stimulus at VO2 Max levels, I would think the test would be extremely accurate and agree that it is far less taxing and repeatable. I wonder however, how that changes for individuals who have only done LSD, traithlons or even more interesting just off the couch. I would suspect that it may undercalculate those individuals and would love to see some data, although I recognize that their sample would have significant selection bias naturally, given that trainerroad would mostly be used by those who are already on the active end of the riding/training spectrum. For someone just getting off the couch for example, or after only a month of 1-2 hr zone 1-2 rides, I would think that their ability to ramp up to FTP effort and sustain would be far better adapted than even short spikes above that level. With no stimulus or training at or above threshold at all, the test subject, might succumb to the effort much quicker after only a couple steps above threshold. Whereas, even a moderately active racer, even without significant additional training would be far more adapted to going deeper, and the legs might clear or handle VO2 Max efforts such as the upper end of the ramp test.

I think a fresh of the coach rider after taking the ramp test could do 2 weeks of 30 second intervals or some 40/20 sec efforts and retest after only 3 weeks would likely see a jump in “tested ftp” not because of physical adaptations to threshold, but because of the ability to handle the higher efforts once threshold is crossed. In the case of the ramp test, it would allow the athlete to handle several more ramps. If you last 2 more minutes at VO2 Max levels on the test, your max 1 minute power is roughly 10-13% higher, which would yield a Tested FTP result of 7.5-10% higher which would be significant and possibly change the effectiveness of sweet spot training.
This would be very interesting to analyze. :thinking:

Lastly, consider that as racers, often you can tell on a ramp test where ftp arises on feel if you’ve been riding long enough and therefore the test gives you a pretty close guess of ftp as opposed to most racers guessing ftp after time off etc. I know as a former racer who has taken lots of time off with the arrival of 2 kids. In a past life lol I have formerly completed 5 min efforts at over 450 watts/72 kgs. Back in January I did the 20 min test with zero training preceding for a year and tested at 251 watts and felt easy with 2nd half average at 284 watts. After completing Low Volume SSBI just tested at 195 watts on October 2nd and 188 In September when I started. I tend to agree that when people test low they tend to not like the test. However, I think the test is brilliant and thinking back to my old training a couple years ago I would have loved this, but as a rider with strong VO2 abilities, this test may lean on that system a bit and as someone who rode all the time I would have defended it as nearly perfect in determining FTP. But for those with no real VO2 “base” or recent experience at those efforts at all, I can’t help but wonder if that is adversely effecting the calculation. @Nate, I think the data you guys have would be incredible for us to discuss, please get data nerdy for us, it would be fun to see and hear more about your guys insights you gained. :nerd_face:

Here is what I think: if you are punchy the ramp test will overestimate your FTP.

For instance, I could not complete Kaweah just a few days after my ramp test but two days later I blasted through Huffaker no problem. It’s easier for me to repeat 3 to 4 minute intervals at ~120% FTP than it is to repeat 10-12 minute intervals at 97%-99% FTP. 5 minutes into my third Kaweah interval I was at max HR. Not sweetspot. :wink:


Max 1 Min = 261w *.75 = 195w FTP

20’ Power 264w *.95 = 250 FTP
1st half 246w
2nd half 282w
4th quarter 298w

Sorry not the best clipping but just to show some info, albeit weak test haha

Anything is possible, but I would find it hard to believe that I could test completely untrained at 250 and then later in the same year, after completing a full SS base block test lower. I would lean towards the fact that I didn’t suffer enough in the ramp test, but again that goes back partially to a complete lack of any efforts above threshold. Thoughts?

Also, I am not in any way undermining the test or its usefulness or making this about my performance at all. Just discussing the tests outlier scenarios and potential bias and offering my pitiful tests for the discussion of the group. Maybe we can draw out some of the TR community gurus :nerd_face:

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@Brennus, That’s interesting. Yes, that would support the idea that ability to repeat and recover from high VO2 Max efforts or the ability to endure that level of effort, would both make the ramp test in favor your abilities and thus your tested FTP number, but could also adversely effect your sweet spot or threshold rides. So what to do in the case where you have not done any VO2 efforts at all, and live in the Midwest, so you don’t get VO2 efforts rolling out of your driveway or through your subdivision like you would in CA or reno where higher efforts happen regardless of your intent or attempts to avoid them lol

This is really interesting and I felt similar results when I first started using the Ramp Test. I’ve come to better terms with how to properly approach these tests and I’m actually excited to continue on with the ramp test rather than the 8 or 20 minute variants. I’ve started looking at it more like a challenge that I want to use as an opportunity to improve and work on my VO2 max power rather than a point of error or setback in fitness. Everybody’s different I guess!

In the end, I feel like I’m finally at the point where I know what a proper VO2 session or Kaweah interval should feel like and so I can bump the intensity up or down as needed based on past experiences. I think this will make the ramp test more accurate for me moving forward!


I’m not personally having success using the Ramp Test as a fitness/FTP gauge. My results on the ramp test are remarkably consistent (I max out in the same wattage range every time), but I know from both “feel” and results that my capacity for various work efforts changed between tests. Generally I’m finding that I’m “underperforming” the test, versus where my training zones are. Now, the good part is that there’s rarely an absolute fail, like I would have with the 8 and 20min format, but I do wonder if there is a physiological element that needs to be incorporated when choosing testing protocol. Personal test result and closest races (including virtual ones in early training periods) below:

@James, Can you include your recent 20 min max power in races/training rides. Especially with crits, NP can be a little misleading.

As per physiological selection or bias, I’m not sure that would have a tremendous effect, but your training time and exposure to VO2 efforts may indeed have an effect on your results. How long have you been riding/training?

Personal stats: 38yrs old, been cycling ~5yrs, racing last 3, with really only last year and this year being my first two full seasons (year 1 of 3 ended early and ugly). I’d also say my training started seriously in last three years, with stress ramping up more significantly over last two. I’ve put in the average power durations from those races below, but as with many races - there’s a story to be told for almost each one. The one very good correlation is my quite poor performance (results/feel/power) on Mar. 30th and a poor test the following week. I can say with reasonable certainty that although my test results this week near mirror my late June results that I am not at the peak form I was was early that month.


Your two FTP tests there do seem waaay out of whack. What’s your equipment? Power meter and trainer?

@James, since June what types of training have you been performing?

Its great that you seem to have plenty of information on your training and your results. First off, I agree all races have a story, it seems based on the info supplied that in crits you are likely “sitting in”, as your 20 min power in those races is lower than zwift where you most likely had long sustained efforts. As a result, unles you are off the front 20 min times in races are not the best point to compare to evaluate fitness.

Without knowing your training experience I hesitate to draw any serious conclusions. With that said, the race and test data to me suggests the opposite of what you might be thinking. If you had good results in crits and lower 20 min power numbers, all while testing at same level, it suggests that you are good at digging deep comparatively during repeated VO2 efforts. So in a race you sit in or can repeat efforts and still be strong at the end. However, your lower sustained power efforts is indicative of spending time at sweet spot and threshold indoors, but not when you went outside. Its possible that your aerobic engine hasn’t been entirely built up and you are surviving/thriving at your level by relying on your VO2 max capability and possibly anaerobic efforts at the end of a race.

In a ramp test, this could be manifesting itself as very consistent results due to the fact that the ramp test does a great job of exhausting your aerobic capacity and you might be great at pushing through it and leaning on your vo2 capabilities. I would be interested to compare the charts of those 5 test efforts. While precise HR is not reliable due to hydration, temp, cooling, sleep, fatigue and nutrition as well as others, if you were to compare the charts you might find a pattern that could be helpful. For example, it is possible to see how your HR responds during ramp test and see if there is an effort level at which your HR jumps drastically, and if that is relatively early by comparison it could point to you having crossed threshold and be relying on your VO2 max and capacity for pain.

Your two FTP tests there do seem waaay out of whack. What’s your equipment? Power meter and trainer?

I have quarq powermeter, so it is crank based power data and has been calibrated. I use a cyclops Fluid trainer “dumb trainer” per @Nate :rofl:, although I find that with a power meter the trainer is only about feel and has no bearing on my training.

I am thinking about scrapping todays workout and doing a 20 min test for fun/research :roll_eyes: all those in favor voting closes in the next 30 mins haha!

A little background, I used to race heavily including crits and stage races. 5 years ago my test would be at 350w 20 min test, 450-475w for 5 min, 710w 1 min max, 1310 5 sec at 72 kg. Numbers just for reference purposes. I have not done any intervals or even group rides this year.

I’m puzzled. Those results just look wrong by comparison.

Also - this won’t account for your ramp vs. 20 difference, but for your coming 20-minute test you may want to look at some older TR blog posts about how to best do the 8 and 20 minute tests. They cover in there things like specifically not sprinting at the end.

Here was one (there have been more I think):

Yes, I am aware of the pacing strategy and to not sprint. If you zoom in you will notice that I did not sprint however. I had not done any training and was trying to get a baseline to start TR program and based on my past results knew I’d be weak, but no idea what to even guess. So I put in a target of 255 watts and intentionally did the first half just below it to see how I felt. At the hallway point I kicked it up a little as I felt fine. With 5 mins to go I pushed it to see what I had left in the tank but kept it steady the rest of the way. It wasn’t like doing 260 for 18 mins and pegging it for the last 2 mins to get a boost. Had I tested it again, I would have gone out closer to 255-260 and then bump second half moderately. Honestly surprised myself with that test. So are you voting for 20 min test then? @dbf LOL

Actually if my vote counts for anything, I’d challenge you to try the ramp again!

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