Ramp test failure mode

The failure modes for a ramp test for me seem to fall into 2 buckets:

  1. breathing very hard and HR in the 190s. It feels like I fail cause I can’t breath more.
  2. I fail when my HR bairly gets over 170 and my breathing isn’t that hard and feels like I fail cause my legs just aren’t strong enough to keep going

Normally when I’m doing well it seems the failure mode is #1, but sometimes it seems like I fail as #2 and my wattage is significantly less. For example I did a ramp at the end of January with the result being my FTP is 241watts with failure mode 1 and yesterday I did a ramp yesterday with the result being 206 watts with failure mode of 2. For both ramps I was just as well rested. Anyone have any insight into this?

The main reason I just did another ramp test was the last section of workouts after coming back from an injury of sorts were feeling too hard. Basically into the start of February was starting getting back pain from the bike (felt like my hamstrings and glutes were feeling with it towards the end of rides and while I could continue the workout it seems like that want good on my back) Was getting worse over time but not that bad, but I got a fitting Friday, February 24, 2023. (Hence my previous thread about finding a fitter) Moved my feet out (bigger q factor) and saddle forward which changed muscle use. Less hamstring and glutes which are the muscles that felt worn out before the back pain started and more engagement of the center of my legs vs medial part. Feels like better muscle use though my ftp took a big drop.
Was also off the bike a few weeks doing some hard hikes on weekends to stay in shape and work other muscles as I could hike without pain. Waited till I could get on the bike without any back discomfort as I didn’t want to risk my back getting worse. It feels fine now which is why I’m back on the bike.

241 ramp:

206 ramp:

This was sort of talked about before but feel like those threads never made the distinction between the two ways of failing a ramp: Ramp test - how did you reach failure?

When I am not warmed up enough, I get failure 2 too. On bad days warm up may take a bit longer.

Same setup between the two tests. Small ring with bike on a kickr 2018. Only the position was different and the time of the bike. I have noticed that when I’m assuming for failure 1 it’s easier to have a high cadence (i.e. more symptom than cause)

I have noticed in the past that when I’m on the bike/trainer for awhile with no hiking getting back to hiking feels much harder. The first hike, 5 miles feels hard muscle wise and after a few hikes back to 12 feeling not so hard. The reverse also seems true. Makes it seem like switching between activity types is hard even with them being on different weekends

I sort of agree with that in that the very beginning of a type 1 failure is like that. But feel like on the bad days I can’t warm up. Even if fully rested and no reason to feel worn out.

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Yes, when worn out when I tried doing the ramp test before the start of the rest week:

This time I’m not worn out, though guessing (maybe) the minor muscles aren’t fully used to the position yet so are sort of worn out when I don’t feel worn out overall but enough to impact my performance?

It’s almost certainly because of your cadence, which it sounds like the major change is your bike position. It looks like most of your 206 ramp test you were pushing less than 80rpm which is much less aerobic and more muscular which is why you felt it so much in your legs despite having a relatively lower HR. When you did your 241 ramp test you were spinning around 90rpm and using much more of your aerobic engine. Lower cadence riding will take a lot more muscle and since generally your cardiovascular system is more powerful than your muscular system for bike riding, you’re going to need to ride at a lower power output to perform such a muscle driven cadence.

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The root cause of condition 2 is most likely some residual fatigue. That’s probably why you have problem getting your cadence up as well as bailing early. There’s a link in the forum to a paper by Mikael Flockhart investigation what happens to fatigued muscles. The main point is a decrease in the mitochondria’s ability to process carbohydrates, which is what you depend on in the end of the ramp test.