Struggle to test well

Hi all,

I started SSBMV1 at the beginning of October, before starting I did the Ramp Test which gave me a result of 262w. I thought this was a bit low so manually corrected to 270w which seemed about right and made the workouts challenging but completable.

I didn’t test before SWBMV2 and kept it the same which again seemed about right.

I didn’t test before General Build as wasn’t confident in my ability to test well so bumped up to 275w which again seemed about right.

To see what impact all of this work had I decided to test again before starting the second part of General Build and tested at 260w. Again I feel this is well below my capabilities and went out for a freeride yesterday. Rode out at tempo to a 9:30 climb and decided to sit at a power that felt hard but repeatable and that was 291w. Then there is a rolling section before a hitting a 20 minute ish climb which I completed in 19:34 (with a 30ish second stop at temporary traffic lights) but averaged 295w for that duration. I then had another climb which I had to turn around because of ice but averaged 290w for first 5 mins and would have carried that on.

I am guessing an ftp of around 280w is the result of this 19:34 effort.

I do struggle with the vo2 workouts and usually drop them 2% or so to complete so wondering if this is a reason for performing poorly on the ramp. Any other ideas?

Should I look at alternative testing methods or do others have success bumping ftp manually based on perceived exertion? Here is my career.

Thanks :slight_smile:

It sounds to me like you need to stop guessing & bumping up your FTP but actually go out and test it. Personally, I prefer longer tests, take a look at this for an example:

Remember, some workouts should feel easy and not a slow grim death.


Are you using the same PM for outside and indoors?

Personally, i found it hard to ramp test. I think a lot of people do, so you’re not alone in that regard. What i have found is that using the ‘live FTP’ function helps me at least target an FTP.

That said, a different type of test may work well, 8min, 20min.

disc: i’m no expert, just have a bit of experience

I said this on another post but many times the question shouldn’t be “why can’t I do the ramp test well?”, but rather “why doesn’t the ramp test work well to estimate my FTP?”. Unless you are going into the test fatigued, underfueled, not enough sleep, etc. and you didn’t bail early then it’s most likely the ramp test doesn’t do a good job of estimating your FTP.

But I agree with what you said, based on that one ride your FTP is probably closer to 275ish. I think for now that 19:30 effort is close enough to be counted as a 20min test. Especially considering it had a 10min effort at the same power preceding it.


a couple of things;

  1. different power meter?
  2. indoor vs outdoor FTP
  3. the ramp test has gotten in your head - don’t take this the wrong way but it reads as though you’ve done 1 ramp test, concluded that your number was too low and have then not tested again through a number of blocks of training and now your making a bigger deal out of the test than it needs to be
  4. your ramp test number was infact correct. Your initial test result was 262W and you manually adjusted it to be 270W but your dropping workouts by 2% so you can complete them. 262W is around 97% of 270W so maybe your number was spot on

Bear in mind it’s not unusual to have a different (higher) power capability outdoors, which may often be largely attributable to temperature and cooling. What’s the airflow like in the room where you test, have you got a couple of fans to keep you cool?

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Cheers all for the feedback. To answer some specific queries.

@Gaggy15 It is only vo2 workouts that I generally reduce, sweet spot and over-unders are all completed and sometimes upped a little if feeling good.
The power meter is the same indoor and out. I should have mentioned that I have taken previous ramps last year and felt as though were under reading.
If the latest test result is correct then it means I have lost power throughout sweet spot and the first block of general build which would be surprising. Especially taking in to account numbers from the outside ride.

@Flashpoint51 that could well be a factor, sitting at around 290-300 felt a lot easier with an incline to push against than sitting on a trainer at 270-280 but there still remains a discrepancy between the test result and workout perceived exertion. I have a pretty good fan and the workouts are always doable so I do not think cooling is an issue.

It is a possibility that mentally I break a bit when I get to around the 350 mark on the ramp and it starts feeling like I might fail, basically a minute early on my estimate. Maybe testing more often will get me mentally used to the discomfort.

try not looking at the screen when you do your test,

i run the app through my phone and use an ipad for entertainment when the test starts to ramp up i put my phone behind the ipad so i can’t see it anymore (just be careful not to press pause like have done previously) if you do it early enough you won’t be able to calculate where your at based on songs

I think you just need to test more frequently and get used to it.

That said, I really like the Kolie Moore Baseline test in the link above. It’s a longer ramping test and it gives you the chance to keep going and get a good number. It’s also a good test of your TTE.

Mentally I like ramping up power over being a few percent over threshold for 20 minutes.

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What is your cooling setup? Insufficient cooling can be a HUGE limiter! That said, if you feel your cooling setup is adequate, try adding an additional fan and see what happens.

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Testing is a means to an end to get a number to set your zones (obviously). You seem to have a good idea of how hard certain workouts should be, why not keep doing what you’re doing? Cross-referencing workouts with RPE and HR is a great way to make sure you’re working as hard as you should, whether you are “good” at testing or not.

Alternatively, what about choosing a certain workout as your “FTP test” – e.g. Lamarck (4x10 @ FTP), or do a TTE test sitting at your current FTP?

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Thanks for the advice.

I’ll take a more detailed look at the Kolie test.

I am ok with estimating my ftp, been doing the workouts long enough now to know when I am about right but I suppose I would like validation that the work I have been doing is having an effect with a number to say I have gained x watts.

I guess if mentally I struggle to bury myself then it doesn’t matter which test I take, i’m always going to fall short but I need to pick a method and do more testing to get used to the effort needed to get an accurate result.

I don’t think it’s about your ability to bury yourself. That ability is going to be somewhat consistent across both tests and workouts, so it kind of cancels itself out. I think it’s more about your power curve. At the moment I’d guess you’re stronger at the aerobic end of the power curve than the anaerobic end. Hence you’re getting higher FTP estimates from 20 minute efforts than you are from the ramp test which incorporates a fair bit of anaerobic capacity. And also why using your estimated higher FTP is fine for SS and over unders but too much for you to handle for VO2 workouts.

So it’s not that either test isn’t “accurate”. The 20 minute test is giving you a more accurate estimate of the kind of power you could actually sustain for 40-60 minutes. But because you are relatively weaker at the anaerobic end of the curve, you struggle to work at 110-120% of that number. The ramp test is giving you a more accurate number to set intensity for those above threshold workouts, but makes your threshold and below workouts a bit too comfortable.

So the question is what to do about it. If you’re comfortable focusing on aerobic capacity and are doing events where you rarely need to go above threshold (e.g. TTs, triathlons, centuries), then I would just switch to using the 20 minute test (or using data from outdoor rides if you prefer) and continue to dial back the VO2 sessions as needed to complete them. On the other hand if you want to work on improving that anaerobic end of your power curve, then I’d say stick with the ramp test number. And either dial the intensity up a couple of % on SS and threshold workouts if they really feel too easy, or enjoy that easiness and go into your key VO2 sessions with a little more physical and mental freshness to really nail them.


@cartsman all of that makes sense. It adds up that it is exposing a weakness in my power curve.

I think my plan is to finish general build at 275 and keep the 2% reduction on the vo2 workouts, which will hopefully bump me up a little more, test and then do 2-3 weeks of vo2 work at the result of that test with some longer sweet spot efforts. This will hopefully even out the curve. Re-test and them move in to speciality. Probably climbing road race.

There are a lot of 7-10 minute climbs locally so having a better vo2 will certainly help improve my times on these.

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So there are a lot of moving parts here, as many have already mentioned. First, you have a 20 minute test versus a ramp test. Second, you have indoors vs. outdoors.

If you think that the ramp test format doesn’t work for you, then try a 20 minute test or the Kolie Moore protocol, but do it indoors if that is where you will be performing your training. (Also, for what it’s worth, I would be a little bit leery of using the number you provided above as it seems you did 19 minutes of work with a 30 second break).

On the other hand, if you struggle to perform VO2 work indoors, why not try performing it outside. From personal experience, I really struggle breathing indoors while doing VO2 work, and I find that I can go much much deeper when performing them outside.

Like many other testing protocol threads, there’s a danger here of not seeing the wood for the trees. Decide why having an accurate FTP value is so valuable to you, and then reverse engineer it from there. For example:

  • If you just need your FTP to set the correct TR intensity, then it sounds like you can do that just fine based on compliance and having a “feel” for how your previous block of training has just gone.

  • if you need validation for what you’re capable of…well it sounds like you got that from your 20 minute climbing effort anyway, so what more validation do you need? That is a real world application of exactly what you’re trying to test.

  • if you need an FTP value to accurately pace a 1hr TT then consider a 1hr or Kolie Moore style test or, as someone else mentioned, use a bench threshold workout like Lamarck.


Thanks for the input @cnigro & @onemanpeloton

Definitely doing vo2 stuff outdoors would be a good idea, just need the weather :slight_smile: Would be interesting to see how it compares.

@onemanpeloton adjusting manually and validating may well be the route I go down, I am going to try to get used to the ramp test and have a few more goes at it over the coming weeks to see if i can get it right as it is definitely my preferred way of testing due to the short time and lack of pacing. If I can’t get it right try another method or just do what I did on Monday.

This. Think about what you really want from testing - is it about being able to train effectively or are you looking to validate progression? If you’re concerned that your FTP isn’t increasing from test to test then also remember that FTP itself isn’t everything, repeatability improvement can easily have as big an impact in real-world riding as seeing your FTP number increase…