Ramp test - calculating the size of step increases and portrait for the TR team

I have read that the jumps in a ramp test should be 20watts each time. Can anybody explain why a ramp test might increase by less than 20watts, and the circumstances where that will benefit the rider and lead to a more reliable test? And how does TR calculate the jump? I did a ramp test this morning, and the jumps between steps were quite small (only 12-13 watts) and it took ages to get TOUGH - so as a result I lasted quite a long time in the test.

I’m interested to know why smaller increases are used. Personally I think it is harder to have smaller increases between steps since it increases the work you have to do before getting to the really hard stuff… For example doing 240, 260, 280, 300 (20w increases over 4 mins) is so much easier than 240, 253, 266, 279, 292, 305 (13 w increases over 6 mins) right??

In addition, as a perk of lasting so long in the ramp test @chad via the instructional text promised that the team at trainerroad would hang my portrait up!! So I’ve attached a post test portrait for the TR team IMG_5161|375x500


the jumps are based on % of estimated FTP, if you set it too low then the ramp test will take a long time. Going back to the original MAP tests, there was suggestions for the start of the ramp and ramp stems depending on the athlete type, I’m guessing TR just tried to incorporate this into a single formula

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All of the ramp tests I’ve seen follow a similar protocol:

Five minute warmup
Ramp in one-minute increments
Failure should happen at 19-20 minutes
Take 75% of last minute average as your FTP

I made my own version of this for Zwift, before they added theirs. My workout started at 46% of estimated FTP for the first 5 minutes, then increased by 6% of the estimated FTP each minute after. That gets me to my estimated FTP at 14 minutes, 130% of my estimated FTP at 19 minutes, and 136% of my estimate FTP at minute 20.

I have a friend with an estimated FTP of 160. If he goes up by 20 watts each step, his test is going to be over in a hurry. Warming up at 80, then ramping by 20 would destroy him by the 13-14 minute mark.

I can’t imagine that any fixed-watted increase would work for both weak riders and strong. It has to be based on a percentage of the estimated FTP before the test. The math just won’t work any other way if the goal is to inspire failure at 19-20 minutes.


FYI, you got the wrong Chad. :wink: Awesome pic though!


Hahaha oops! What one is the right Chad?

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I think I have found the correct Chad now, sorry @mcneese.chad

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That looks right now. Not your fault of course. It’s kind of a running gag around here that the super ubiquitous and super helpful mcneese.chad is not actually the Coach Chad. :sweat_smile:



And yes, as said above, the Ramp is 6% of FTP per step.

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So… Earlier I said:

My friend came over today and we did simultaneous ramp tests on Zwift. Turns out that, yep, Zwift ramps up by 20 watts per step, starting from 100 watts, regardless of your estimated FTP. For me, with my 270-280 FTP, 20 watts per step isn’t too far off from 6% jumps. But for him, it was 12% jumps and his test didn’t last long.

I’m not on TR any more, but I seem to recall that the TR protocol was 6% of estimate FTP, and designed to fail at the 19-20 minute mark. That approach makes FAR more sense than Zwift’s one-size-fits-all protocol. Zwift must be going from the original papers about the MAP test, where 20 watts was the appropriate jump for elite athletes only.

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Hey, @maddie, I honestly can’t remember if the jumps are 5 or 6%, but they’re definitely a percentage of your FTP. We did this to prevent the exact issue that Mark_Rebuck describes below.

When it comes to estimating FTP using a ramp test, this % was what we landed on after looking at a ton of data over months of testing out this new protocol. But keep in mind that using a ramp to estimate FTP doesn’t face all the constraints of using a ramp test to estimate so-called “power at VO2max”.

In the case of the latter, the protocol (i.e., duration & height of steps) can really influence the power figure estimated by the ramp test and isn’t something I can get behind. I’d much rather that riders went to a lab that could put them on a met cart and measure expired gas.

But even then, there’s only so much value knowing your (potentially very flexible) VO2max at any one point in time, something we covered in last week’s podcast. :wink:


Ramp Test, It is 6% steps:

  • Starting at 46% of FTP for the warm-up, then bumps to 52%, 58%, 64%, 70%, 76% and so on until failure.
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