Ramp test reflections for endurance athletes - let's be philosophical :-)

Hello all

Some months ago, I shared in the forum my own observations of the ramp test, which reflected others. There were good suggestions that as an ultra-endurance athlete, covering time trials from 10 miles to multi day endurance events, but leaning towards the greater distance time trials, that the ramp test may not be the right way to measure my FTP, and the 8 or 20 minute test may be better.

I’m quite dogged, but also inquisitive. I decided to stick with the ramp test as my training volume and intensity have increased and to simply see what happened with my ramp test.

My conclusion is that FTP is going up, even if the ramp test doesn’t reflect this.

  1. I can complete the majority of interval sessions, regardless of whether they are sweet spot, threshold or Vo2.
  2. I manage this despite my endurance rides getting longer and harder and interval sessions intensity increasing.
  3. I conclude that if I can maintain my FTP in a ramp test whilst increasing intensity everywhere else, this is actually pretty cool!
  4. In any of my events, I never have to attain the FTP I have to put out in a ramp test consistently
  5. If I was to do a 10 mile TT today, the career “personal bests” chart indicates that I’m actually at that distance on the form of my life, despite very early season. 2019 was my best season to date.
  6. I can still do an interval session following a ramp test :smiley:

Sharing is caring - fellow athletes, don’t be disheartened. Stay strong. Keep pedalling :muscle:



ramp test does a good job estimating your maximum aerobic power (MAP), or power at 5-min vo2max.

FTP is a functional (power-based) measure of lactate threshold (or lactate steady state) which you can relate to MAP as % MAP. As you train for TTs using longer and harder threshold intervals, this % can go up while MAP can stay constant. I’m a bit of an outlier and will see that % go from 84% to 90%, a lot of people are lower in a range something like 78-84%.

So your MAP (1-min power from ramp test) can hold steady, while you are increasing FTP just by training longer and longer threshold efforts. In other words, it is well known that you can increase lactate threshold via certain training, and that training is not focused on increasing MAP.

Based on that here is what I think:

  • Use the ramp test to estimate maximum aerobic power
  • Use long efforts at threshold to estimate FTP

For example my 1-min ramp power might be 310W and a longer 30-50 minute threshold effort might be 260W. My fractional utilization is 84% (260/310) and its been higher indicating I can train SS/threshold and push FTP higher without increasing MAP.

In that example ramp test shows no progress, while long threshold efforts is showing progress. Ramp test and long TTs are estimating two very different things.

A fitness test of any duration is going to be less and less accurate as you project those results to different durations. Just as having a high 20 minute power could indicate high sprint power, the ramp test is too short to be a true indicator of 60 minute power.

Ramp test is good for estimating 5-20 minutes power. For some people it also predicts 60 min reasonably, less so for others, depending on the slope of your power curve.

It’s still a useful test, but is best for people that have trained all energy systems fairly well. If you have neglected certain energy systems, it will be less accurate.