Ric Stern on ramp testing

From the originator himself.


Good find.

That’s really the issue isn’t it? Most know that a 20min and/or a 60min test gives a better and more accurate FTP, however it sucks and people don’t want to do it regularly. That was the conclusion of TR, to find a test people will do regularly.

I don’t ever want to do a 60 min test! It sounds horrible and it’s of no interest or relevance to my racing (XCO/XCM). Of my 30+ races I don’t think I’ve had a sustained effort over 10 mins, it’s all punchy efforts mostly sub 2-3 mins.

I just want a test that’s easy enough to set my training to and the Ramp test does that. That being said, it did take a lot of Ramp tests for me to figure out how to do them correctly because 75% of a max effort on a ramp does not work for me! I landed on stopping the ramp test when my cadence has significantly dropped and not trying to eke out every second until death. Which seems to be about 20-30 seconds before ultimate failure. I have learned to know the feeling of this inflection point


There is the concept of using a longer test (be it KM baselines, 20min, or even full 60min) AND doing the MAP test.

The relationship between the two as it changes with training and between individuals can really inform your training.

But yeah, ppl often don’t want to do those longer tests. It’s a shame because knowing both can tell you so much more than one or the other. And maybe even keep you out of internet debates :smiley:. Win win

As a bonus, I no longer base high intensity off of FTP. No more “is it 120% or 130%” for a given interval set. I base it off of MAP.

Base work close to FTP off of FTP (longer protocol). Base VO2max etc work off of MAP.

As a side note, Ric offers group coaching, not just high end one-on-one.


Over time I think curiosity is enough. I did 20mins for a few years, was suspicious of the ramp but checked it against a 20 min and got similar values, Ive also done virtual 40k TTs which also align similarly to my TR FTP.

I don’t think you need to do it all the time, but it’s worth exploring beyond ramp occasionally.


And you have to be careful because now that you have “found your percentage”, it’s not necessarily constant. It will change even within an individual depending on type of training you do.

Edit: but not that often so no need IMO to do every six weeks necessarily.


I’m also curious if I cut my arm off how long I can live before I bleed out, both of which seem equally enjoyable. You’re actually probably right though, curiosity may get to me at some point as I’m only 4 years into the sport. I’ve done 3 x 30min SS workouts where Coach Chad says if you’re able to complete this workout it’s time for a FTP bump. So far that’s tampered my curiosity.



It’s no fun, I wouldn’t recommend it.


Be good to hear opinion and basis for Sufferfests 4DP; both original ‘hour of hell’ and ramp version. See if that’s any more precise.

Coming from Rowing at a time in which 1 hour max-efforts were a weekly to bi-weekly standard dose of training, I can attest to easily having 10W swings over that length all the time! It’s incredibly physically and mentally tough.

The problem as highlighted above is… if you do adjust FTP down (no shame), it would be good to have the Vo2 intervals still adjusted against the Ramp/MAP value, because i’d be far more worried about them being out of zone vs lower work.

I have a similar experience, not long after the Ramp Test was launched in its final state (vs the Ramp Test X) I did a ramp and 20-min Test a couple of days apart and got a result within 2w.

Unfortunately my training was derailed significantly for a few years but I’m hoping to get more consistent again soon, might try another comparison to see if things have changed. Motivation to get through a 20-min test is low though!

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So if you do the ramp use 72%

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??? Unbelievable.

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Yeah I’ve posted that and a couple other articles a bunch of times on the forum (in replies). The MAP based zones predate Coggan levels. Another good one is Watt Matters blog post equating MAP and Coggan zones/levels.

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Here’s the key question. What is the typical error in estimating FTP from MAP, and is it big enough to matter?

Stern claims that 97% of individuals fall in the 72-77% range. That means that taking 75% of MAP should work pretty well for almost everyone, as a 2-3% error doesn’t seem critical. 5%, OTOH, would seem like a deal killer.


Taking 95% of 20 minute should be better, because the longer the test, the less differences between individuals in anaerobic capacity should matter. Yet, taking 95% of 20 minute power only gets you to within plus-or-minus 8% in 95% of the population.

My guess is therefore that the ramp test is only good to within about plus-or-minus 10%, which explains so many people post about their struggles hitting their zone-based workout prescriptions.

Anybody see any flaws in the above reasoning?


Do you have data on that, or conjecture? People have different % anaerobic contribution on 20-min test, so FasCat coaching does the following:

”take the average 20 minute power and subtract 5 – 10% to arrive at an athlete’s 60 minute “Functional Threshold Power” or FTP. As a generally rule of thumb we use 5% for slow twitch aerobic athletes and 10% for athletes that have a well developed anaerobic system. We’ll subtract 7.5% if we don’t know about the athlete’s anaerobic capacity.”

Source: 20 Minute Power Based Field Test

WKO consistently puts my 20-min aerobic vs anaerobic at 95% / 5% so I’ve been happy using 95% multiplier. It’s one reason (before I used WKO) that I did ~1 hour test in 2017.

Plus whatever error your power meter throws in.

Assuming you always use the same one, that’s included automatically.


I got the 8% from what TP says.

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I really do not know why because 90 min TiZ sst done in 3 intervals is not really sign of FTP bump but basic workout if your TTE is close to 50-60 min.


Juicy discussion boys. Made my ride this morning pass a bit more better.

I’ll add a quick nugget:

FWIW, Ric Stern himself uses both a 20-min test and his MAP protocol (for reasons that I outlined above…in fact, that’s who I stole the idea from). Also, “watt matters” blog is Alex Simmons, Ric Stern’s coaching partner. He also uses both.

Puff, puff, pass.

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