Ramp Test vs 20 Minute FTP Test vs 8 Minute FTP Test

I’m also a TTer and do enjoy the 20 mins of pain however I find that in order to pace the 20 min FTP effort perfectly (for testing), I need to know what result I’m going to get prior to doing it otherwise I’ll cook myself early or have too much in the tank late on. Looks like you had a fair bit left at the end of yours too!

With the RAMP test, it’s at the end of a 3/4 week block so I’m never 100% sure if/by how much I’ve declined/increased. So I’d typically do the RAMP test, get my result and then be confident of hitting the equivalent result in a 20 min test by pacing perfectly.

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Have many of you ever attempted to confirm a Ramp Test result by following up with a TT Test?

I see a lot of TR users concerned about Ramp Tests giving them too high of a result, so for anyone interested in more accurate FTP & Training Zones … this seems like a smart method for retesting FTP.

  1. Complete a Ramp Test to find your estimated FTP.
  2. Follow this with a day of rest.
  3. Confirm your new FTP by completing a TT Test, using your Ramp Test result for target power.

** Using Ramp Test result for target power during the TT Test should minimize pacing concerns**

Assuming the Ramp Test is accurate, we should be able to maintain the new FTP power for 60-minutes, since FTP is supposed to equal “One Hour Power”, but I think most agree this would also be a painful test to complete indoors. An easier and more palatable alternate could be a 20-minute TT (CP20 test).

Since the 20-minute FTP Test uses 95% of your average power for the test result, we should be able to complete a 20-minute TT at approximately 105% of our Ramp Test result (assuming it’s accurate). For those that do test high with a ramp test (or low for that matter), following up with a 20-minute TT should allow them to confirm and/or adjust their FTP to a more accurate power level.

As an added benefit, these TT tests would also make for a great training ride to start your next training block.

I have not seen anything that would definitively indicate one protocol is more accurate than another.

Can’t argue with you there, although I suspect most coaches consider TT Tests to be more accurate, assuming proper pacing. At a minimum, following up with a TT Test would give you a good comparison between two of the most common test options, thus a more confident FTP setting … as well as giving you a solid training ride.

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I usually test within 1-2% between the two protocols but I also know guys with wider extremes. My buddy who is a TT/climber type rider excelled in the 20 min test but tested about 30w lower on a ramp test because he never really goes into that zone of intensity. Another guy is the opposite, has the punchier power in the short term but cannot sustain for 20 minutes and tests lower on the 20 min.

I think you can tell after a while if your FTP is set wrong, though it’s easier to tell when it’s too high rather than too low. That said, being unable to finish high IF workouts (edit: or any workout really) isn’t necessarily a sign of a wrong FTP setting, perhaps just individual ability to excel with certain efforts and not others.

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Great examples of the Ramp Test and/or 20-minute Test working for some, but not for all.

This week will be the first time I’ve completed both tests for comparison purposes. The 30 watt variance you mentioned your buddy has is exactly the reason I want to give it a try. Having an FTP set incorrectly by ± 30 watts would have a huge impact on training quality … all the more reason I think comparing the two tests could be very valuable.

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For the ramp test to give me the same FTP estimate that a 20 minute test does, id have to exceed and set a new 5 min PR. At this time, the ramp test gives me a 17 watt lower ftp compared to a 20 min test (using Hunter Allen’s protocol with a 5 min test before the 20). I did do the 20 min test outside, and i think i probably couldve gone a couple watts higher.

As a punchy type rider (possibly because of CX background), I’ve found that my FTP looks something like this: Ramp>20m>1hr, with a 15-20 range from top to bottom.

What is interesting, though, is that the 20m protocol (with the 5m effort first) done outside gives very similar numbers to the trainer ramp test.

I now generally add a couple of % to VO2 max workouts and pull a couple from threshold ones. Seems to work.

I’ve said before that IMO people get too obsessed with having one, single ‘right’ number; for most people, there is no one number which will apply equally to all types of effort. Find parameters that work for you and use them to train in the right area.

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After all these statements that the ramp test would give me a far too high ftp number, I did the 20min test (long Zwift protocoll with vo2 spikes and 5min all out before the 20min) and the TR ramp test within a short period of time.
My TR ramp test result was lower by 3% (9W). I‘d say the difference is mostly daily form.

So for me the Ramp Test works perfectly fine. I don’t care if numbers are a bit lower, as long as they are not too high.
And: Ramp test was so much easier than 20min… with the Zwift protocol, I was already dead before the 20min even started… :joy:
No way I‘d do this test every 4 weeks!

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My apologies if I’m just repeating what someone said elsewhere - I think the ramp test is more dependent on how you feel that particular day. It takes the average of your final 60 seconds. What often happens to me is that I make it through that 19th minute and fall off quickly during the 20th minute. Sometimes I might make it 5 seconds, sometimes I might make it 20. The difference between the two is about a 1% swing in test result, and I think it often comes down to whether the right song is playing or how much I really feel like gutting out a few more sloppy peddle strokes. With the longer tests, a tiny bit more effort at the end isn’t going to move the result as much. I did the ramp test this morning and had a slightly disappointing result (went up, but not as much as I expected). But if I had gutted it out for 10 more seconds, I’d be thinking it was a good result. That’s just too volatile. Either way, I’m rounding down to the nearest 5 watts and that is where I set my training target.

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Not so - it takes your best one minute power, so if you fade toward the end before finally stopping, it shouldn’t matter so much.

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Not so - it takes your best one minute power, so if you fade toward the end before finally stopping, it shouldn’t matter so much.

Agreed. I always do it on erg mode, so they are generally one and the same, but you are right.

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Maybe I’m generalizing but individual physiology aside, I feel like most newer riders are going to as a whole test higher on the ramp than the 20 minute. I say this based on my own experience, when I was a newb I was all about going hard in the short term vs being able to pace for the long term. Since then my power curve has flattened out. I would bet my personal gap between ramp and 20 minute was wider when I was new, with the ramp being higher

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Did an interesting experiment this morning to compare ramp test vs 20 min test. I’m a huge diesel engine with a low top end (especially as I train/test in the TT position), so the ramp test historically has underestimated my FTP compared to my performance in TTs.

I did a long warm up followed by a ramp test, spun easy for ~8 mins, then a 20 min effort. Not exactly the typical 20 min test, but I figured the ramp test would have a similar fatiguing impact to the VO2 efforts in the 20 min test.

Ramp Test- 270W
20 Min test- 290W (305W average during the 20 mins)

I’ve been doing a lot of long easy riding, but 290 definitely “feels” right for the few efforts that I have done recently. Paced the 20 min effort really well, my power curve was 305W from 5-20 minutes (and the last 5 mins include ample grunting and me persuading myself to go another 30 seconds).

I’ve never done the 8 min test, but am thinking of trying that out in a couple days to benchmark. 20 min test works well but man does it suck (and takes a TON of mental energy/commitment). That said, I don’t test frequently and adjust my FTP based on RPE and heart rate so that my power zones “feel” right.

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Interested in seeing what you come up with on the 8 minute version. It’s going to be closer to your 20 min test I bet, and it could be the goldilocks format that seems to work best for me. 20 minute test is a doozy! I have always under tested on the Ramp version.

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I’d stick with that and the 20-minute test.

Had a nice read through this long thread but can’t quite find the answer (other than giving it a try).

My last few ramp tests have been disappointing, not only mentally but also compared how I can do in a normal ride/workout situation - for example, ramp FTP has come out low and the SS workouts have been very manageable.

I’m pretty sure I’m one of the diesel engines in life, walking in the mountains for winter mountaineering I’m at the back heading into the hills but have the same pace heading home when others are lagging.

So I’m think I should at least try the other testing options, what I can’t work out is which is the better/more suitable test, 8 or 20 minutes? I think reading since I’ve not done testing in this format yet I should be looking a the 8-minute version but not 100%. Or is it another case of sucking it and see?

If you are looking to try something “different” from the ramp, I think the 1x 20 min test is the opposite end of that spectrum (deliberately ignoring an “hour of power” test mention… wait… I just said it… :wink: ). It is a solitary, long effort at a relatively lower effort when compared to the Ramp and 2x8m.

The 2x8 is tricky since it essentially requires more effort (because the calculation reduction is greater than the 1x20m). It also means you are supposed to pace well enough to keep two separate efforts reasonably close in average power. So it is a pacing issue x2.

I’d suggest you try the 1x20m to really see the other side of the world and take it from there.

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Cool! Wasn’t so much I wanted to be contrary for the sake of it just want the best fit for my next block of training.
Or I just suck it up and try and performs as well as I know I can on the ramp. I have a couple of weeks to investigate still.

Update from my last post- did the 8 min test this morning 3 days after the ramp and 20 min test. First time ever doing the 8 min test, hard but not as awful as the last 5 mins of the 20’ test (indoors, I love time trialing outdoors though).

FTP was very consistent with the 20’ test- 291W 8 min vs 290W from 20 min. Paced the 2 blocks pretty evenly, 325W and 323W. Interestingly, I hit the same max heart rate at the end of both the 20’ and the 2nd 8’ block. With my n=1 sample size, my conclusion would be that the results from 20’ vs 8’ should be pretty similar, and anyone who feels that the ramp test doesn’t produce accurate result can go either direction.

One caveat I will add though is that newer riders may get a lower FTP with the 8’ test since there’s 2 intervals. I have a huge aerobic base and tend to produce low lactate levels, so I had no problem clearing the lactate and recovering for the 2nd 8’ interval. But newer riders might not be able to recover for the 2nd interval and have a lower power output than the first.