Since RAMP Test FTP jump, I can't maintain wattage in any of the workouts

Background: 64 yr old male. Play tennis 3+ days per week. Ride 3 to 4 days per week using TR. ALL my riding is outside on an XC mtn bike on flat, lightly traveled paved roads (little required stopping). Have Power Meter on XC bike.

I started with TR in Oct 2020 - I had been riding some prior to this but nothing structured. RAMP tested at 180. For the next 1.5 months, I could do all the training rides just fine (usually above the wattage target range for all intervals). In late Nov, did my 2nd RAMP test. FTP number jumped up to 221.

Since recording my new FTP, I am basically unable to maintain the wattage power level on ANY of the subsequent rides for the full duration of the ride. The 1 hr rides, I can sometimes be pretty close, but on the 1.5 hr rides, I seem to run out of gas in the last 15 - 20 minutes of the ride. So today for example was the Mary Austin ride calling for a TSS of 118. I did a TSS of 92. I was basically unable to hit most of the numbers after about 60 minutes and the last 15 minutes was probably near 85% of the lower limit number.

Now, there is NO QUESTION that I am improving. I am pretty sure that in my next RAMP test I will jump another 10 watts (maybe more). The RAMP test seem kind of easy in that the pain only lasts 2.5 to 3 minutes. At least it was that way in the 2nd test when my base FTP was 180.

I definitely feel I am underperforming in my daily workouts even though I am killing myself. I am happy to know I am improving, but I do feel at times I am banging my head against the wall - it is bit discouraging to be honest. Why am I experiencing this? Is it common - this seems unlikely? Age related? Are some folks just “good RAMP testers” because they can put down 3 minutes of hard riding … just not 60 minutes?

Look forward to some feedback.

A common question. Here’s a good thread on it: Are over-under workouts suppose to be this hard?

Lots of opinions out there. I am of the opinion that threshold workouts offer the least gain for the most amount of pain. I’d rather do longer sweet spot over shorter threshold.

The ramp test is a pretty blunt instrument, it takes a fixed % of your MAP which may or may not work for you. For me, it comes out about right, everything feels like it should afterwards (sweet spot is comfortably unpleasant, under overs suck and vo2 max intervals are painful but doable), a good riding buddy of mine regularly ramp tests better than me, but at anything other than sub 10 minutes he’s in the hurt locker and I can run him off my wheel. Ramp doesn’t work for him because he can put down waay better watts for two to five minutes (relatively speaking). than he can for an hour. Give one of the 8 or 20 minute tests a go and see how it all feels after that.

Also, if you’ve not done structured training before there is definitely a mental element. Without wishing to invoke Rule #5, if there’s any way to beg /borrow /steal a turbo for a bit I’d suggest you do it, if nothing else some sustained steady state work would be good to decide if it’s a mental issue or genuinely a power issue.

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Interesting thought on the trainer. Should look into that. I might be like your buddy. Even as a kid doing track workouts, I always did well on the 1/4 mile repeats (60 seconds) but didn’t enjoy long stuff. Thanks for the thoughtful reply!

check out this topic: Why I failed at TrainerRoad (I think)
it also includes my story with the ramp and 20 minute test: Why I failed at TrainerRoad (I think)

long story short, the ramp is not accurate for everybody, it can under or over estimate your FTP.

last addition to my story,
previous sub threshold workout (which was in fact an super threshold if it was scaled to a realistic FTP

did this one again last sunday, no backpedals, no struggle to keep the cadans, hr 5-8 beats lower (below threshold where it should be)

so I’m pretty sure that the 20 minute test is better for me, :slight_smile: now I can actually spend 5x10 just under threshold without being killed,

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Since you mention this, are you doing these harder rides like Mary Austin fasted or are you eating 1-3 hours in advance?

Look at the fueling. If you’re running out of gas after 70mins of a workout try a gel or sugary drink and see if that picks you back up. Seriously - having plenty of fuel in the tank suddenly makes the whole thing a lot lot easier.

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I ride at 2pm ish and eat 2 to 3 oranges or something similar 10 min before I head out. I eat a regular lunch when I return. I did buy a bunch of gel packs that I thought I would use mid ride. I think fueling might need a bit of tuning.

I’d be looking at your nutrition on the trainer. It couldn’t hurt to try some sports drink or a gel during a TR session, and see if that makes a difference in how you feel in those last 15-20 minutes.

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You have pretty finite stores of energy. As you become more trained your body develops the ability to store a lot more in your muscles and liver but it’s still a resource you can burn through in a big workout. For a 90min workout you could easily get away with consuming 100g of carbs without it being in any way extravagant. (There’s 12g in an orange). If you were racing you would want even more.
Try it - take 1 gel every 20 minutes, see how that feels. Nobody eats them because they like them but because they are good at their job. The SIS gels are good because they have water in them so they are isotonic which makes them have less of an impact on your digestion.

I will definitely try it. Was not aware of the importance fueling during an athletic event at the recreational/amateur level - but it make sense. Thanks!

Looking at your ramp test you may have finished a little high. Your last minute had a target of 267 and you pushed 295. The FTP is calculated based of 295 and therefore too high. It is important to stay on target and keep pushing as long as you can — a last minute hooray will boost your FTP, but also lead to the problems you describe.

I have been there with big struggles in all over under and threshold workout after I (unconsciously) cheated myself in a FTP test. Erg mode helps a lot with keeping the test true.


I thought the ramp test instructions were to keep the pace then in the final minute of the 20 minute sequence , go as hard as u can go??? In my mind I wanted to do 300. I was pretty close. So I have it all wrong?

Ramp test should start at like 46% FTP and add something like 6% every minute until you fail. Your FTP is then 75% of your best 60 second power which is typically your last minute.

The protocol you describe sounds like it’s for the 20 minute “standard” test

Yes you pretty much described exactly what I did.

Oh, you r saying stick with the incremental increase until I can’t increase anymore. That’s not what I did. In minute 20, I did all out - I think I get it now. Thanks!