I recently did a ramp test and received a disappointing result of 285 watts (given my training and past FTP scores this was not good) I was pretty bummed and wondered how the 8min Test would compare, so I immediately gave it a go (10min after ramp test) and scored a 314 FTP. I’m 55 and more of a sustained power rider and struggle more with the anaerobic style workouts. Any thoughts on such a big discrepancy? Age? Type of rider? Maybe the ramp test isn’t the best test for everybody?
Me too. I just test with the 8 minute format now, the ramp test just bums me out. It seems to work for many people and I have to say I wish it did for me as well. I consistently test higher with the 8 minute version so I just use that now. The 8 min test serves as a workout on it’s own too…
There is a wide range of opinions about the Ramp test and the other FTP test:
Results can and do vary based on the individual physiology, training history, experience & ability to pace efforts, etc.
The ramp test protocol favors the well rounded.
If one area of your riding is significantly stronger than another, you may (and did) under-assess.
Conversely to your situation, if a rider has great anaerobic and above-threshold capacity but lacks muscle endurance, he/she might also under-assess due to leg burnout before reaching the critical intervals.
Ramp Test is ok so far as it goes but for sure there will be athletes that will need more insight into their FTP than the ramp test is able to provide. The Ramp Test provides an estimate of Maximum Aerobic Power (MAP). It’s good at that. TR uses that MAP estimate to estimate FTP…so there is some opportunity to multiply estimation errors there! Not every rider’s FTP will be 75% of their MAP. There are probably a distribution of FTPs around 75% of MAP. Some will hap an FTP that is 72% of MAP…some will have an FTP that is 77% of MAP…some will be like you & have an FTP that is 82% of MAP. (Coyle/Coggan paper ‘Determinants of endurance in well-trained cyclists’ is instructive)
I think we all just have to be aware that no test is perfect & make rational decisions based on our observations of our own workouts. Do VO2max workouts never seem to get your heart rate up over 92% of max? Does threshold work feel like a breeze? Maybe you should go with that 8min FTP number. Are you absolutely dying during over/under efforts? Do sweetspot intervals drive your heart rate up to 97% of max? Maybe you should go with that ramp test FTP number.
Man 30 watts is a season of training…Bigger question is which number are you going to use to train with? SS using 314 is threshold with 285.
Welcome to “outside the bell curve” club and I’ll be sending you a membership card A few years older, also a diesel, and Its happened to me multiple times but not consistently (sometimes ramp estimates are good).
and without looking a Coggan paper there is likely a bell curve. So if you are on either end of the bell curve, the ramp’s ftp estimate will be under or over.
Back to the original questions. I’m staring at the end of my 5th decade walking the earth… and over the last couple of months have done a deep dive on the subject. To simplify, yes age can be a factor. As we age there are a couple of primary reasons:
- loss of VO2
- loss of lean muscle
- tendency to gain weight
These are covered in Joe Friel’s Fast After 50 book, which he published around his 70th birthday. Joe has been coaching for something like 40 years and knows his stuff. Again to simplify, the solution is to do strength training and vo2 work all year long. The book has more details.
Hope that helps.
If I was in this situation, and wondering what number to use for my workouts, I’d ask myself if I were to do a 3x20min workout at 90% - would this feel right? Further, if the workout called for 4x10min at 100% FTP, could you do 314w for this?
If the answer is yes to those workouts, then you have to look at the other end of the spectrum. Can you do Vo2 workouts based on that 314w? If not, then I’d just use a lower number for those efforts - effectively using two "FTP’ values to base things on.
Ability to do above FTP efforts is highly variable between individuals. So personally I think it’s better to play with intensity in TR app and determine what works.
In other words, you don’t have two FTPs. You have an FTP for sub threshold work (endurance, tempo, sweet spot, threshold). And above FTP you need to personalize the % intensity to your physiology.
For example on the 120% longer vo2 intervals I’ve found thru trial and error that dialing intensity to 92% to 95% is best for my physiology.
At the end of the day, FTP is really just for setting workout intensity.
So with that in mind, if you can complete all of your workouts at a 314 FTP, I would likely stick with that. However, if you find that you’re failing on the VO2 and Anaerobic style workouts but can do the sweetspot and threshold work at 314 FTP then maybe just bump the intensity down on the shorter stuff by 10%?
I guess I should consider myself lucky to not have this problem. I get nearly identical results regardless of which test format I use.
Yes, that’s what I was suggesting. I wasn’t saying you’d need 2 actual FTPs, but merely have to choose an FTP value for longer threshold and below efforts and play with the intensity dial a bit for the above threshold stuff.
I would think the test should be relative to what you are training, so if your focus is more on sustained power, use an 8/20 test, or if you’re working more on V02 then you should use the Ramp test since it emphasizes V02.
I’d set FTP 314 and do a sweet spot workout to verify. Your low score on ramp test relative to 8-minute test says you would benefit from doing more VO2 work. For the vo2 work we know from TR blog and podcast the % intensity has to be determined thru trial and error. And the fact that vo2 work is highly personal is reinforced in workout notes, here are the notes for Mills workout:
And my transcription of what Coach Chad said in the part 2 vo2max deep-dive (episode 191)
- VO2 work is really subjective, this is why 2-3 min interval workouts at 120% don’t work for everyone, and we say it may not work for you and some people can work above 120%, some people below 120%
Not only is there a bell curve, but the variance of the distribution between individuals is greater the further you move above threshold. So a MAP test is more likely to give a biased estimate than an 8 minute test, which in turn is more likely to give a biased estimate than a 20 minute test, etc.
I’m not that concerned about having a precise estimate of FTP so my approach to sweet spot base is to start with 2x20 at 90% of my best 20 minute power and build up from there.
what’s fascinating to me is that when ramp under-estimates my FTP, a couple of weeks with some vo2 work seems to fix things. And I was also happily surprised that on most recent ramp test it gave a good estimate at the end of traditional base 2, although I was doing a lot of outside workouts and was naturally getting some vo2/anaerobic intensity from the 15 minutes it takes to leave city limits (and return). And doing some solid anaerobic leg work with weighted step-ups, squats, deadlifts, etc. All of that just reinforces what I’ve been reading - it only sucks getting old if you don’t go hard. Use it or lose it stay strong