RAMP Test versus Field Power

Hi, I apologize if this has been asked but I don’t see a specific answer. I have several 20 minute power outside ride numbers around 290 in last month (I’m 70kg - FTP 275 or 3.9 w/kg) but I’ve tested twice on the Ramp test and it gives me an FTP of 241 max so I’m not sure what to use? In my last TR cycle the workouts were too easy and I pushed the numbers in some instances 20% higher than prescribed.
Am I just a bad tester? Should I use the 20 minute or 8 minute test instead?

In short, different tests can give different results. You also have what are likely very different test conditions between inside and outside. Even if we ignore the different test formats, those conditions can have a HUGE impact on your final test results.

Generally speaking, it’s not great to compare inside tests with outside tests… unless you have taken extensive steps to make the inside conditions as good as possible for cooling and motivation in particular.

Testing inside, and using the resulting data for training inside seems the “best” practice. Applying a test from outside for inside workouts may lead to issues.

As to formats, that is a very hotly debated topic. Regardless of the one you choose, stick with it and learn how that test works for you with respect to future training and potential need to adjust the results of an FTP test appropriately to meet your needs.

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Hmm. 275 outside using 20-min and 241 inside using ramp? Yeah that can happen for various reasons, some that Chad posted above.

I’m going to approach the topic from a different angle:

  • inside and outside testing can deliver similar results, but that requires using 8-min or 20-min or longer format because its not practical for most people to do ramp test outside
  • strive to make your inside setup as close to outside as possible, in particular gearing if you use Erg as some forum users post very different ramp test FTP estimates using small vs large chainring
  • coaches that originally promoted the idea of using the ramp test believe its best to use ramp to estimate max aerobic power (4-6 min max effort), and use 75% (72-77%) of best 1-min ramp test for pacing a longer FTP test

Ultimately its up to you to establish an indoor setup that emulates outdoor testing, if that is of interest. I’ve done that and pretty happy with being able to use same workouts inside and outside.

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That’s an impressive delta. Use the 241w indoors if that’s power from a Smart Trainer. Seem like you will quickly close the gap when you ride indoors more (assuming you have poor cooling). To your OG question, the RTest has a learning curve, I managed to test better every 7-14days repeatably. How recent is the 20min @290w?

A 20 min FTP test is not the same as a 20 min avg power on a random ride. The 20 min test is preceded by a 5 min nearly all out effort to deplete anaerobic contributions. What is your 45+min avg power max?

That’s the Coach Hunter Allen protocol. FasCat has a different protocol as shown here: A 20 Minute Power-Based Field Test – FasCat Coaching

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hmm. So then the FTP from that could be as low as 261

Three issues could be insufficient cooling, lack of experience with the ramp test and perhaps you could use resistance mode rather than erg mode.

At the end of the day, the important thing is that you can realistically gauge what power you should base your workouts off of. If you can do that, informed by FTP tests, then you should be ok.

I don’t think the 95% multiplier on Hunter Allen protocol was ever meant to be absolute and definitive - the effort is still short enough to vary with or without the 5-min blowout. The K Moore “Physiology of FTP and New Testing Protocols” article on TP notes that as a coach he sees multipliers from 86% (track sprinter) to 96% (TTer). Pretty sure I saw a study on accuracy of 95% of 20-min effort based on different pre-test warmup efforts. Do you recall seeing that mentioned on the forum or elsewhere?

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A ramp test is the least accurate but most consistent and repeatable FTP test.
A 60-minute uphill time trial is the most accurate but least consistent and repeatable FTP test.
A 20-minute test is somewhere in between.

The gold standard, of course, is a lactate threshold test in a lab…

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If your ramp-test FTP results in workouts that are too easy, then us your outdoor FTP. If those workouts are too hard…adjust down.

Your 20 minute results indicate an FTP ~265 & your ramp test results indicate an FTP of 241. 24W may seem like a whopping big difference. Maybe. The difference is most likely due to a combination of two things:

1.) A difference in power meters. If your outdoor power meter is a non-drive side orthogonal strain gauge array but your indoor power meter is a rear-hub optical torque sensor then there will at least be the drive train loss between those two power readings. That’s 6-7 watts. That’s just about as good as that difference can get but it can get a lot worse if you have a worn drive train or any of a number of drive train inefficiencies. Differences in calibration/zero offset can also add to this error. Most likely, this is the bulk of your difference. (I can show you how to make your left-side power meter exactly match your trainer power meter…a trick I learned from a youtube cycling equipment reviewer)

2.) Your physiology. If your power meters were correctly aligned, your indoor/outdoor results imply that your 20 minute power is 90% of your Maximum Aerobic Power (MAP). Yikes. That’s very good! I wish I had that problem. For me it’s more like 79%. 90% is almost too good to believe but it’s likely you physiology is contributing somewhat to the mismatch. You just have high fractional utilization. Good for you.

Now we’re talking! Of course, everybody knows I’m a big fan of hour tests on the trainer. Well controlled, consistent, and brutally honest. If you want to know how much power you can hold for an hour hop on the trainer and hold as much power as you can for an hour. By the 30 minute mark you’ll start to find out if you’ve been honest with yourself or if you’ve been kidding yourself.

Of course, in more ways than one, the truth can hurt.

Oh yeah! That’s a good point! Forgot about that…

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You’re a certain kind of special if you can actually do your lactate threshold power on a trainer for an hour.

I need it to be a race (ideally mass/wave start) to put myself through that kind of torture.

It also needs to be not so steep that cooling and gearing limitations don’t effect the result.

Yup.
If you equate FTP with a way to measure LT2, then any FTP test method that’s in use out there has rather large error bars, including a 20-minute FTP test or a 60-minute test. As far as I can tell the early numbers that relate the various test protocols to LT2 are skewed because they gathered their initial data on well-trained individuals.

But even amongst trained individuals, like you wrote, there is a natural spread according to athlete’s abilities. So no matter the testing protocol, I would always use my own personal experience to put the number in perspective and tweak it accordingly. It doesn’t make the “test wrong” or bad, getting to know and listening to our bodies is an essential part of training IMHO.

In my N = 1 experience, I can usually predict the outcome of a ramp test within a few W — unless I haven’t trained for a while, of course. I reckon that if I were used to other FTP test, I could do the same.

I almost always know when it’s going up or down.

Just take the 20min FTP and do an O/U workout. You’ll soon know if you’re in the right ball park.

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For sure, I agree!! LT is kind of a nebulous number, anyhow, and if I look at my lactate curve(s) I can never pick where LT is. Some algorithm or tech looks at the curve and picks a spot…it’s never obvious from the curve where it should be. LT is usually kind of a 30 minute power number. CP is usually kind of a 20 minute power number. Again, the truth hurts & if you get on the trainer & try to hold a lactate-curve-derived threshold power number for an hour it’s gonna hurt a LOT starting at the 30 minute mark and ending at the ~45 minute mark (probably).

Maximal hour power is more like an MLSS number.

But, anyhow, the bottom line is this: if you can’t hold your FTP for about an hour it’s not your FTP. But that doesn’t mean you can’t set your workout plan based on a 20 minute power number or a 30 minute power number. Knowing my actual hour power helps me understand/set my workout plan…might not be the same for everybody, though!

One hour (plus or minus) is a destination, I’ve reached it during a couple seasons. Practically speaking I’ll take anything over 30 minutes and use that. I’m in agreement with K Moore’s article The Physiology of FTP and New Testing Protocols | TrainingPeaks and separately the idea you can work on fatigue resistance and push out time at high percentage of ftp to 90 or 120 minutes.

I believe the one I’ve seen posted here that showed no significant difference is this one

A more recent paper was published that showed the warmup did make a difference for the 20 min test in terms of power

which showed about a ~10-15watt or ~5% difference in 20 min power depending on the warmup with or without a max suprathreshold effort.

I do agree the number will vary, and the 95% is not a hard rule, but generally a 20 min effort without the clearing should use a higher % reduction than one that includes it.

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