Ramp Over-Tester taking a new AT approach

I’m one of those Ramp Over-Testers. On the pre-AT plans, I would do the Ramp Test, use that FTP, and struggle mightily with every single Sweet Spot or Threshold workout. Eventually I started adjusting my FTP down by 5%. This made the sustained power work more manageable but I always wondered if I was leaving something on the table by under-targeting the VO2 and Anaerobic workouts (I mean, they felt hard enough, but who knows).

I just did my ramp for the first SSB block of the winter and got a result of 269. Normally I would adjust this down to 255, but I decided to leave it as-is and see whether AT would produce some workouts that make sense and bring me along gradually. All my levels dropped by 2-3 points, and the resulting SSB workouts look reasonable.

So I’ll give this a try and report back!


@Wheatstra53, what about same approach from the bottom up instead of the top down? You already know how you respond to the Ramp Test…don’t withhold that info from AT. :wink: Why not go with your normal adjustment and see if AT will adjust you UP instead?

That way, if AT screws it up you’ll still have a pretty successful training cycle.


N=1. (I’m probably around a 5% ramp “overtester”).
By week 4 of SSB1 I was doing SS workouts that started to break me. Listed them as hard and the next week AT had me doing 20 minute SS intervals that were threshold. Ouch!

AT started to dial things down after I’d cooked my legs. It was fun while it lasted.


Timely post.
I wasn’t sure how yesterday’s ramp test would go, I had bailed out of my prior build plan when I was failing threshold workouts.
I kept my FTP, took time off, came back and just did TrainNow as mood dictated.
Figured I was an overtester as well, so I was sorta chagrined when yesterdays ramp test came in “too good:” 290 → 300
So I’m hoping AT doesn’t drag me like the older algorithm…

I’d continue doing what you did before: manually adjust your FTP by a few percentage points. Although you should try to experiment a little, because the percentage can change. Last season I did the crit plan that focussed on short power. Predictably, my ramp test reflected that and for the first time I needed to dial down my FTP by 2.5 %. No biggie.

You can gauge whether you are in the right ballpark that by doing some workouts. For example, if the harder VO2max workouts aren’t very hard, you set your FTP too low. But overall, you will be better off if the FTP you pick leads to mostly challenging, but doable workouts rather than workouts where you need every bit of strength to complete.

Sure, that makes sense. I think the premise of AT is that either approach could work. I decided to try this because

  1. variety
  2. A little closer to the pure unmodified logic of the program
  3. Ego satisfied by slightly higher watts/kg on the career page

Pretty low-stakes experiment for me.


You realize Coach Chad’s workout notes tell you to adjust intensity to make vo2max intervals max repeatable? Read the workout notes, ignore FTP and disable Erg on vo2 and anaerobic, and do it the way coaches ask you to do it.


Very good point, as usual. In fact, the workout text recommends you to adjust your intensity in other workouts as well. From my own experience, I find it is better to adjust your intensity very early rather than after struggling through half of the intervals. At that point you might already be too spent.

Only on very select few workouts would I think that struggling is ok. Typically if you are at the end of a block where the hardest workouts get thrown at you, I find it ok to struggle a bit. For example, if you are doing something like 9 x 2 minutes at 124 %, I think it is ok to struggle on the last 2–3 intervals. But you should not struggle from the first interval onwards. However, such workouts should be the exception.

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Without doing this my experience is that AT picks this up nicely. Had some vo2 workouts that felt to easy at the beginning of build. Survey response set to easy and within a couple of vo2 workouts I was doing workouts that felt more like actual vo2 workouts. This was my first time with AT so my levels where not dialed in yet.

I think if you’re a over tester on the ramp test and AT will eventually get you as a rider. Because after a ftp test they scale back the progression levels equally. So your threshold and ss levels will still be lower then your vo2 levels. But this does take some time. If your failing ss workouts early on. Don’t be afraid you sure alternatives and go down. If you’re failing 3x15min, do a 3x10 alternative instead.

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Maybe a side note but I hate the term “over tester” on the ramp test. This denotes that there is something wrong with you. That isn’t the case…there is something wrong with the ramp test. What it’s telling you is that you have a higher anaerobic contribution when completing a 1 minute style ramp test. Therefore that max 1 minute number obtained has a higher percentage of anaerobic contribution and simply multiplying that number of 75% to give you an FTP number by which all other workouts are based is not accurate for your physiology.

I would try a ramp test at 3 or 4 minute long steps and see what the max 1 minute power is that you attain. Then multiply that by 75% and see if you can hold that power for a 30 minute steady state effort and have your heart rate remain fairly stable. If you are pretty stable that is a good wattage and HR to complete SST style work. Then use that max 1m from the ramp test as your Vo2 target wattage when doing sustained style Vo2 work, i.e. 4x4 minute efforts. If you’re doing on/off style vo2 you are more likely that 120% of FTP is not going to be a high enough power for you if it is a 30/30 effort. I recommend those are paced at the highest wattage you can sustain over the intervals with consistent power. Meaning if you do 330 watts in the on period of the first interval, the last interval you should also be able to sustain 330 watts for the on period.

Anyway, kind of a rant but the 1 minute ramp test X 75% is far too simplistic to account for differences in people’s physiology and leads to running athletes into the ground with more anaerobic contribution. It also doesn’t have them do Vo2 hard enough.

Rant over…


Can I join your rant?

Agree, and it leads to people hand waving it away with “ftp doesn’t matter” and “Adaptive Training fixes that.” From where I sit this topic reduces TR credibility, because of web pages stating the ramp test is the most accurate test. I’ll buy most repeatable test, but not the most accurate at estimating FTP.

For example we have such gems like this one “the information gleaned from the ramp protocol is more accurate than an FTP estimate based on a poorly paced 8- or 20-minute test. With a sufficient level of commitment and freshness, this format leaves little room for error in cyclists of all disciplines.” More accurate than a bad longer test? Wow! My brain immediately turns that statement around, with sufficient level of commitment and freshness my 20-min test allows me to glean more information about FTP than a test designed to estimate maximum aerobic power (MAP). You know who still has credibility for me? Coach Chad. On older podcasts, he has explained why the 75% multiplier is far too simplistic. Your FTP/MAP changes with changing, and can differ quite a bit between athletes, but was are suppose to believe an FTP/MAP of 75% is accurate for all athletes?

Thats what I’m talking about:

I’ve had more #success than #fail ramp tests, but it makes me suspicious of the #success FTP estimates so I stopped doing ramp tests.

Rant over.


:clap: :clap: :clap:

Please hit the brakes, ranters. No offense, but I’m not finding this very helpful. I’m interested in trying out a simple, by-the-TR-book approach, and seeing what happens without doing a lot of manual adjustment. I have done that in the past and I want to go a different route. There are plenty of other discussions about whether the ramp test is good or bad, how to do VO2 workouts, etc.

The main motivator for me with this is that I respond well to proscribed workouts. When I’m presented with choices, I tend to over-think, over-adjust, and stress out. The prior version of TR required me to put effort into making those adjustments, and I’d like to find out if the AT version can save me the trouble.

Something I anticipate will happen is that I’ll have consistently low levels for SS and Threshold, and higher ones for VO2 and Anaerobic. Will AT be able to use this to produce helpful workouts and performance improvements? That’s the question I’d like to focus on.


AT is your friend.


I’m not a subscriber so I’d be interested to see what you find out here. If AT is working based on your Physiology it would be giving you lower wattages to do SST and Threshold and higher wattages for VO2 workouts. Not necessarily more intervals or longer but higher or lower wattages. I’m not sure if that is how they’ve written the system though so it would be interesting to see what happens with your workouts.

I think this is a fun experiment. Maybe next cycle, you can try your normal approach and see if AT rapidly brings up your VO2 levels. Keep us posted!

Generally speaking, higher Workout Levels include both changes to power and number of intervals (or time in zone). However that is also true within a workout level. For example a level 1 sweet spot workout could have you do 30 minutes of intervals at 80% FTP (tempo), or a level 1 sweet spot workout can be 15+ minutes at 88-94% FTP. At the other end of the difficulty spectrum, a level 10 will have you slamming 90+ minutes of sweet spot work at 90% FTP.

About physiology… At a big picture level, if AT was using your physiology, like a coach you would hire, it would need to start by assessing your physiology thru a series of tests. And then use that information to customize your overall plan for the season. AT does not do that today.

At this time AT is taking a more basic approach, focused on getting you to do ‘the right workout’ first, and then progressing difficulty within TR base/build/specialty templates. AT does this by looking at workout fail/completion along with your post-ride feedback (easy, moderate, hard, etc). Based on that it adjusts the difficulty (up or down) of future workouts, while keeping it aligned to the goals of the particular TR template (base and build have different goals). When getting started if you know the workout is too easy, you can help by picking harder alternatives. As a result AT ends up aligning with your physiology, without explicitly testing, however it relies on you providing consistent and honest feedback.

Anyone that has adapted a training plan has done this, for example years ago I couldn’t complete TR VO2max 120% FTP workouts and during the workout I manually reduced both power and the number of intervals. Then I used that to make similar adjustments to power/intervals on the next vo2max workouts. But it was all done via workout notes that I put into TR and had to pull up and review before the next vo2max workout. AT makes this a lot more convenient.


Yes. But from my experience, if you’re just starting with AT your PL (progression levels) might still be some way off and a lillte nudge in the right direction with the alternatives workouts will speed up the process a lot.

There isn’t anything wrong with the ramp test either. All FTP tests have a significant statistical spread of outcomes. E. g. for the 20-minute test recommendations range from subtracting 5–15 % from your power to get your FTP — that’s massive. I think what is wrong here is the expectation that there is one test that works for everyone, isn’t overly burdensome and produces accurate results for everyone. With experience, no matter the method you use to deduce your FTP, I think you can get a pretty good idea how you test in relation to the FTP-as-used-in-training, i. e. as a basis to scale your workouts. So if the ramp test has consistently overestimated your FTP by 3 %, then just subtract 3 % from the ramp test result and see how it goes. It isn’t rocket science, and I don’t get why people get bent out of shape over it.

The adjustments you need to make are often quite small. E. g. I lowered my FTP by 2.4 % to get better training outcomes. Most power meters have an error of +/- 1.5–2 %, so that is comparable to the accuracy of my measurement device. Add to that that perhaps you tested on a good day where you slept better and were able to produce more power for longer. Or perhaps you focussed on short power last season, which means you have increased your MAP relative to your FTP. (I think the latter is a plausible explanation for what happened in my case.)

I don’t think anyone at TR has officially said that the multiplier is exactly 75 % for all people, quite the contrary. Nor does anyone with a sports or coaching background that I have heard here. It is quite clear where this comes from, it is an average and TR has encouraged athletes to adapt their FTP when they know they fall outside of the mean of the bell curve.

Don’t forget training, if you train for short power, you might increase your MAP-to-FTP ratio.

The by-the-book-approach is to use a ramp test and then adjust by experience and feel. Even small changes like 1, 2 or 3 % can lead to significant results where you suddenly are able to pass workouts you couldn’t before. IMHO AT works better if you fall closer to the middle, i. e. if AT doesn’t have to reach down and give you PL 2 workouts rather than start with PL 4 workouts. The latter is probably more efficient, too.


AT will work exactly as you hope it will. Sure it will take a few weeks of training and responses to adjust but you’ll absolutely find that more workouts are both achievable and beneficial the longer you use it.

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