Ramp test outdoors and without power meter

Completely new to trainerroad. Gravel rider. No power meter and no indoor trainer. I searched this forum for information but could not find a specific answer. Can I do my ramp test outdoors and without power. If so, can anyone provide a link to the how-to? Thanks in advance.


What metric would you be measuring? Speed is variable depending on conditions. HR is going to have virtually the same profile on a ramp test even if you go from a 200w ftp to a 300w ftp, and its also variable depending on conditions.

I would get a left side crank power meter, they’re like 300-400 bucks. Or I would do all the workouts outside based on RPE. You don’t need to do a ramp test to do outside workouts with RPE though, it has no function.

No. The test is about establishing your power levels, you can’t do that without measuring power. To be honest, you’ll miss out on most trainerroad offers without a powermeter or indoor trainer.

Ramp testing outdoors is also fairly difficult and requires really good terrain, so for outdoors testing I’d recommend a 20min or at least an 8 min test instead. (If you had a powermeter…)


So the ramp test is a vo2max test. In a lab you wear a mask, on a trainer at home it approximates vo2max but gives you your vo2max power output (both do).
The test ‘ramps’ up to higher power levels and has you hold them for a certain duration. There are many protocols that entail different ramp rates (changes in power from one step to the next) and step lengths (time you hold that particular power).
The test is a test to exhaustion. They use scientific studies to estimate your ftp based off your highest power step complete (or partially completed) based on the protocol. For example, ftp estimate may be 82.5% of the highest step power you completed. It is not necessarily your vo2max bc you didn’t wear a mask so they didn’t monitor it. It may be the case that the ml of oxygen you intake leveled off and you kept going to a higher step. Your actual vo2max power would be the power level where you oxygen consumption stagnated.

Anyways, thats the gist of what the ramp test is and the purpose it serves. You would want a trainer ideally to do it bc smart trainers have power meters and can be programmed to specifically lock into the power levels and increase them accordingly (you would simply pedal and based on your cadence it would adjust the resistance so that you are pushing the prescribed wattage [lower cadence → more torque / vice-versa]). It’s pretty unrealistic to do a ramp test outside since power output is so variable. You want lab type control that a smart trainer / ergometer provides.
If you want to start training w power, as others said I’d also recommend a crank arm power meter. Check out ‘stages’ cosmetic blemish / close out power meters for one $200-350. Otherwise, I’d rec a older generation smart trainer. You could prob get one for ~$900.
Good luck!

Let me be the first to say…no.