Ramp test vs Full Hour test...how do actual results compare?

Sunday I made an all out hour attempt. I was very motivated to do my best. Today there was an optional ramp test on the schedule. I was not so motivated to do the ramp test because a ramp tests feel like an epidermoty.

My hour attempt was an all-time best for as long as I lasted, but I only lasted 41 minutes. Everything over the 13 minute mark was a power record.

My ramp test was also an all-time best effort. Historically I’ve always felt ramp tests OVERestimated my actual hour power ability & this test certainly confirmed that suspicion. The ramp test was 13W better than the hour attempt. Which means, if I’m only able to hold on for 41 minutes during the hour test my ramp test results well & truly overestimate my actual FTP. And I felt like if I was really fresh my ramp test would definitely be good for more.

Good to know.

Finally, just to give one more shout out to the updated TR plans…this was my all-time best ramp test by some nominal amount. Ummm…7W, I think…but the last ramp test I took in May resulted in an FTP that was 33W less than the ramp test I took today. During that time I lost >25lb. If that’s not a phenomenal result I don’t know what is.

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The plus sides are:

  • You know your real FTP
  • You know relation of your FTP to ramp test
  • Your training will be way better with real FTP - assuming you will use your 41 min power.
  • You have empirically tested the issue that was picked up in the discussion many times

Hour power is not only ftp power as tte is variable. 41 min is decent and normal TTE. You can implement some extensive work in the future to stretch it to 60 min. And you also have one more dimension you can use as a measurement of your improvements.

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Congrats! And thank you for sharing.

A little confused by some of the wording in the 3rd paragraph, as I believe you know that one-hour power is just that (and not necessarily FTP). WKO has some modeling features which give good estimates when you feed it enough hard efforts. Looking at a 6 month period of hard efforts that also included a fair number of hour-of-power attempts, my time-to-exhaustion (TTE) at FTP wiggles between 40 and 65 minutes. Confident of the pacing on those hour-of-power attempts as I had developed a really good sense of walking the lactate threshold tightrope.

TR updated plans certainly look better to my eyes, appear to have more built-in recovery. Also, don’t underestimate all the previous work (stretching back to early 2021?) doing PD Gollnick inspired hour-of-power attempts.

FTP = 40 to 70 minute power

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@Thanas_Stefanes_V takes the bait! :smiley:

I don’t want to get into a big discussion about what, exactly, is FTP because it doesn’t serve our (collective) purpose. I kind of try to distill it down to the first principle: what do I want? I want my FTP (however we define it) to be BIGGER! Ha!

So if that’s true I want whatever definition of FTP I elect to use to serve ME in two ways:

1.) It should be easy & consistent to determine it…for free.
2.) It should be usable to determine the rest of my training structure.

For me out-of-the-can ramp test satisfies #1 but not #2.

MLSS satisfies #2 but not #1. 4mm lactate satisfies neither. Critical power satisfies neither.

But just seeing what sort of power I can hold for an hour (or so) seems to work really well. So that’s what I use. Even if one thousand PhD physiologists came on this forum & told me I was wrong…that’s still what I would use. Because, first principle, I want my ftp to be bigger & hour attempts serve that purpose (whereas the collective opinions of other folks does NOT serve that purpose).

But I do still like to read and consider the opinions everybody has on this topic! It’s just that engaging in open debate about the topic isn’t always the first way I like to spend my time.

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The last ramp test I done is about 8% down on my average hour TT on par with my worst hour and 22% down (on my best 57 minutes, on a float day, in near perfect temperatures for me and on a drag strip).

OP, when you say ramp was better by 13w, are you saying the estimated ftp based on ramp is 13w higher than your avg power for 41min?

What I mean is 75% of my best 1min Ramp Test power is 13W better than the power I held for 41 minutes. That is pretty typical for me. Ramp Test results are usually 15W more than I can hold for an hour (or so).

I once spent several weeks concentrating on Laursen Tmax intervals…that drove the difference between ramp test and hour test up to about 24W. So it can vary but if I’m just doing my usual mix of intensity ramp test will be about 15W higher than actual hour power.

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That’s interesting. IMO the TR used 1 min steps can cause this gap to widen relative to a 25w ramp (from 100w) on 2.5min step lengths. I have found this to be fairly close to ~1hr power. Take your MAP from this test then multiply by 82.5% for estimated ftp.

I would be interested too see your ftp estimate based on that test compared to the TR 1min step length test. I believe mine would be higher w the TR format, tho I haven’t tried it.

Ah! Cool. We are on opposite sides of the distribution. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the ‘determinants of endurance’ paper but the athletes in that paper were kind of scattered all over the range as well. Still all pretty good at what they were doing but well distributed across the spectrum.

I just went back and looked at my first ramp test. It was about 3 years ago so I’m getting close to attaining my BS in TR lumps. Got on the bike wondering how close to 300 I’d be…got of the bike a lot more humble with a ~240W result. A few days later Kaweah totally destroyed my confidence! Ha! But if I look at that workout now…50 seconds (50 seconds!!) into the 2nd interval…which was supposed to be some 90%+ portion of ‘FTP’…I was doing VO2max work. Heart rate was comfortably above 92% of Heart Rate Reserve. I was unable to complete the third interval.

@HLaB you would have been cruising! :rofl: Probably wondering if this was really all you had to do to get faster.

That’s the primary reason AT is so great. With a little post workout survey and some other simple tricks TrainerRoad can bring athletes like us ‘back into the fold’ over the course of a couple workouts. For sure, I would have felt a LOT BETTER after that Kaweah workout if TR has told me ‘No prob. We are adjusting your workouts now’.

image

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Just out of curiosity, how big was the difference in percent? 13 watts difference may not be that big of a discrepancy.

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Cool discovery and kudos for getting after it!

With regards to the above quote. It is for this reason I tend to think that we should be doing FTP testing that is in the 30-45 min range and not hope that the ramp test is accurate. Or, carry on with the ramp test and then adjust future workouts based on difficulty—not the guesswork I like to do.

But. As you said, perhaps this is the upside of AT, it can reliably re-jigger things based on some user input.

Same here.

Dr Coggan paper from 2003 (predates Training and Racing with a Power Meter):

The first thing I learned in 2016 while trying this approach - it takes time to develop the muscle strength, pacing, and mental strength to do a 40km TT. So I used Friel’s approach and started at 30 minutes. Worked great and within 6-9 months I was doing hour-of-power efforts on a monthly basis.

Taking it a step further, it is possible to learn the feeling of teetering back and forth across your lactate threshold. My first year of road cycling saw a lot of drop rides where I learned what it feels like to blow up, and to work at just below blowing up. You can use that feeling to do rough estimates of FTP on shorter efforts, say 20 minutes, without having to do an overpaced 20-minute test.

The long ride at threshold is the approach that Coach Kolie Moore talks about The Physiology of FTP and New Testing Protocols

Coach Chad refers to ‘walking that lactate tightrope’ in a FTP Test Tips blog post:

Even when FTP is not changing, which is most of the year for me, long tests teach pacing hard efforts.

For what its worth I find 30 minute efforts ‘walking the lactate tightrope’ to be sufficient field tests, and also helpful to continue working on pacing for longer efforts.

Agreed, just do a 30+ minute field test. It also serves as a threshold workout.

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At the risk of taking this thread off on a wild tangent, I disagree with your comment that critical power satisfies neither of the 2 points.

#1 - Using short (3-5min) and long (~10-15min) TTs, tested within the same session, is IMO an incredibly consistent & straightforward protocol for determining changes in fitness/performance (not only CP but also W’).

#2 - CP literally determines the heavy/severe boundary, making it simple to prescribe high intensity sessions >CP, moderate intensity <CP. Much more useable than FTP which isn’t tied to any physiological marker…

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Critical power test is best for determining anaerobic capacity. And as you said, prescribing workouts over threshold.

Disagree. This flies in the face of exercise physiology and practical experience.

I was under the impression that ftp is a estimate of a physiological marker - the lactate threshold, which is tests in a lab

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An estimate yes, but not a very good one.

Functional Threshold Power Is Not Equivalent to Lactate Parameters in Trained Cyclists.

Full text:

From training and racing w a pm book years ago, I thought I read that on avg, 4mmol lactate is a proxy for LT, and ftp estimate from 20min * 0.95 is a good estimate of that physiological marker. This study confirms that, but suggests that 4mmol lactate is not a good proxy for LT (based on reading that abstract)?

Yes that’s right. I think the 4mmol number came from early studies which found that MLSS occurred around 4mmol, but in reality there is a lot of interindividual variation

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The problem with that paper - FTP was not defined as a 20-minute test. See my post above with Coggan’s original definition from 2003.

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