Ramp Test Tips & Tricks

Cool thanks, this was my experience. I’ll go back to non erg mode for future.


So, I have done ramp test in middle of big cog using erg mode on smart Tacx Vortex trainer. As I am coming up to the 19-20 minute marker, it starts to get tougher, as expected. Cadence at this stage is up 130+.

I see some suggesting that as it gets tougher to reduce cadence and keep going until you can go no more. However, as soon as the cadence starts to ease off, the power drops and I hit the death spiral.

Is this the way it is supposed to go?


It starts to get tougher? :cold_sweat:

What works for you, cadence-wise, will be super personal and depend on your current physiological strengths. It sounds like you might be better served by trying to keep a high cadence for as long as possible, especially if you’re comfortably controlling 130+.

For what it’s worth, I tend to unconsciously increase my cadence as the power ramps up. I don’t intentionally drop it, but it does nosedive as I get close to failure and can’t manage even the relatively lower strength required for high-cadence pedaling. I’m not great at muscling my way through, so I don’t think the low-cadence suggestion would work well for me. (Might be perfect for Kirsten Wild though!)


The vortex has resistance floors and ceilings that you may need to shift gear to work around. Depending on where you are capability wise. 130rpm for cadence seems crazy high to me. The idea of ERG is that the trainer should hold you to power while you hold cadence steady (except as said you may need to shift gear to keep a vortex happy).

The original workout text used to specify that once your cadence dropped below 70rpm you were probably done but it doesn’t anymore.

There’s nothing inherently wrong about spinning it out at a higher cadence though. And around the 20 minute mark is more or less where most people “should” complete the assessment anyway so don’t worry about that. I did my last one on the rollers which is a totally different experience to doing an ERG mode test but no less valid as long as you are generating the power. It allowed me to hold a higher cadence all the way to completion as compared to ERG mode which would have forced me down between 80-85rpm for the last step or two.


I look forward to ramp tests. After busting ass for weeks at a time completing blocks of training, it’s nice to see what the hard work has earned.

And then once I get to about 80% FTP I’m questioning my life choices. But you just gotta suck it up and push it until the wheels fall off. Then reap your rewards.


I use erg mode but turn off power match.

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Also an early morning guy and I disagree with this. I’m finding a large delta between pushing yourself to the absolute limit on no warm up and pushing yourself close to the edge but not your limit with a structured warm up at 5am. If we’re talking about higher RPE due to early mornings, suck it up, but know you’re training at the right levels. At least that’s my approach.

Difficulty being it’s hard to test and refine one’s approach to the test without taking a week out just to do ramp tests - no thank you.

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I was always under the impression that the ramp test was devised with no warm up included, therefore if you’re warming up first you’re actually not performing the ramp test correctly and are not setting the base level as intended.

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That’s my point. Not only are you cold (ie without warm up) but you’re super cold from it being 4:30am. You don’t get the warm / wake up.

To clarify, my reference to warm up in original reply was when doing standard workouts close but not at ones limit, which will be tough, but you have that wake / warm up to help.

I warm up as well due to being 5am in an unheated garage.

Usually only 10-15mins with the last couple at FTP.

TR says you are free to add a warm up, but be sure to do the same one each time for consistency of tracking gains and setting zones.

Mornings can be rough, for workouts and for ramp tests. (They’re especially rough once you’ve come to believe that mornings are rough.)

Recently I’ve been doing my hard workouts a little later in the day, unless I know work will overtake my schedule. I feel better fueled and less “draggy,” and have had better workouts (higher compliance, hitting targets) with it. On a recent ramp test I also think I benefited from doing it later in the day, seeing not just a higher number but just feeling like I was able to go to genuine failure.

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Whilst I’ve looked at optimising outcomes it comes down to, simply and brutally, going until you can’t turn the pedals anyone.

Everything else drops away, 19 minutes, spinning smooth , deep slow breathing . It all comes in but it’s down to how much mental strength you can draw down on to push on

I definitely think using a high gear made the ramp test more representative of my power. When I did it in a low gear, I felt like I could have held out until the next increment, but got behind and the increase in resistance made me blow up. Doing it in a high gear, I just blew up the old fashioned way, nothing more in the legs. Then I went back to training in a low gear because the trainer likes it better and it’s not as noisy.

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Completed my best Ramp Test today, not only in terms of the result (from 245 to 255), but in terms of setup and technique. Here are some tips I find useful.

  1. Calculated what it would take to get better than 245, using 245/0.75. So I knew I would have to hold the one minute interval when I was over 326.

  2. Setup the bike the night before (tested in the morning). Inflated tire, lubed, checked “things”.

  3. Had playlist with a specific song that would hit around minute 24 (including the 5 min workout)

  4. Listened to coach Chad’s advice in terms of peddling in 4 quadrants, especially pull up and giving the quads a break

  5. This may differ from person to person, but a teaspoon of honey and some espresso coffee pre-ride. Also a cold bottle of water.

  6. This may differ depending on external temperatures, but here in the US Midwest it is cold in the morning, so the first 10 minutes are done with windows closed and fan off. Then crack the sliding window open, and let the wifi-socket plug turn on, and feel that breeze


This advice is more ‘in general’ rather than for a ramp test, but all my rides now feature 100gr honey/hr in water. It’s a good, cheapish fuel for me.

Ya, that’s a good point, although I do at times ride fasted, especially if it’s an hour workout in the morning. But honey and water is great cheap fuel, and tastes so good!

I have a big white board set up and I put up the last ramp test Watts for each minute. This way I know where I am and can mentally handle the discomfort as I reach the last ramp test top minute. I find it makes it easier mentally.

I have to admit that I have a tendency to avoid most of the ramp tests. My next is scheduled for a week next Monday. My FTP is 216 right now and finished last sprint at 224. About to finish the 1st half of SSBMV plan and I expect to see this 224 outcome. So I will put up the numbers from last Spring of 2019 my numbers to at least try to match this outcome.

Another poster mention the critical playlist in particular the last 5 minutes. I will have to build myself one, and make sure those last 2 songs are ones that will make me drive though the physical pain!!!

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From memory (someone will correct me) 19m 30sec gets you through your current FTP- that’s what I’m looking for. Anything after that is gold!


Correct. as long as you are matching the power target within reason, 19:30 is the break even point.