Sufferfest new FTP test - is it new cycling standard? (Half Monty)

I watched the video and I must say being more a endurance athlete this is maybe the à good way to go forward. Ramp test to failure never gave me a good estimate since my top end is pretty low. Very interesting approach.

Still has a ramp-test to failure… not sure whats so special about this. If you know you over- or under- test then just make the adjustment and be done with it. Seems like this process just makes it take longer. Side note, the workflow was cludgy – hope they’re streamlining it.

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Wonder why SF continues to jam four tests into one single test? Pretty sure pro riders don’t test using something like this. Guess it’s to make it more palatable and marketable to subscribers.

Take a week and do these tests on 4 different days to get even more realistic values — for free.

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Do you have any proof that this methodology is any better, other than some guys YouTube video?

As far as I know, the TR team tuned the Ramp Test in with a large data set to come to their conclusion on where FTP should be set from the Ramp Test.

At the end of the day no single test is going to provide you far superior results in one single test.

WKO takes a different tact than TR. If you use that software they recommend that you perform a series of critical power tests. It’s a bit onerous in that you need to complete multiple tests over a number of days. You basically need a testing week. Of course after you complete that, you just need to maintain your critical power profile. Of course they aren’t really worried as much about FTP.

You simply cannot get a capacative effort on 4 different time lengths in one day. You just cannot say that a test which suggests that you test 4 different areas of your physiology is going to get you good results.

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There was discussion about this on a podcast recently, it was determined this was developed more for marketing than science.

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I much prefer knowing the different values rather than guessing at them from a single ramp test.
It doesn’t have to be done using the SF test in particular but it’s Convenient to have workouts tailored automatically based on the test result rather than dialling up or down TR workouts individually as appropriate.
I pretty much wish I had all the training apps combined into one system, lol

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Do you ever really “know” the values though? The numbers you can put out are going to vary somewhat even in the short term (day by day) depending on fatigue, how well you slept, what you ate, what time of day it is, etc. In the medium term (week to week) they’re going to vary as your fitness improves or declines. And then there’s a degree of uncertainty in the tests themselves e.g. how motivated you were, how well you paced yourself, PM accuracy, etc.

Add it altogether and it seems to me that whatever test you do, is at best a good estimate of fitness, at that time, on that day. I’m not sure how much value there is spending more time and effort trying to get more insight around different elements of what is still an estimate.

I also find the TR approach of using a single training number that assumes you have a fairly balanced power curve is also inherently self-correcting. E.g. if you’re skewed to the anaerobic end of the spectrum then the ramp test is going to give you a number which is likely to make SS and threshold workouts pretty tough. Which highlights where your weaknesses are and ensures you’re working on them. Seems to me that if each workout type is tailored to your fitness for that part of the power curve, then you’re not doing anything to address imbalances in that power curve. Which I guess is fine if the philosophy is to specialise e.g. “I’m a 70.3 athlete who needs to sit at 0.8 of FTP for 2.5 hours, I don’t care if my VO2 Max and Anaerobic power is low”. Think I just prefer the TR philosophy that everybody should be a well-rounded athlete before trying to be a specialised cyclist.

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I can see the reasoning behind the sufferfest test, but i don’t agree with doing them all within the same workout. IMO a better approach would be to test them all, but on different days.
I kind of feel like that approach might be ultimately limiting too. I’m way skewed towards steady state work and previously really struggled with V02/anaerobic work, but over time I was able to work my way up to target power and I think I’m a way stronger cyclist because of it. Wouldn’t have achieved nearly the same adaptation if it had been a lower target initially.
Also FWIW my ramp tests have been pretty accurate despite me being primarily a long-course triathlete. I don’t think that’s reflective of how good my high-end capacity is relative to my other capabilities, so much as it’s about the level of training and familiarity you have with those kinds of efforts.

I’m always a bit amused about the amount of “is this test protocol better?!” threads in the forum. I quite like the ramp test, because it does not destroy you for several days and you can just get on with training. After all training is about training and not testing.

And if specific areas feel to easy/hard I’m very much in this camp:

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I think this is a separate problem, and applies to all testing of fitness. That’s why you can adjust the difficulty on the fly. You feel you have a bad day? Adjust the difficulty down a few percentage points. You feel as if you could rip out trees with your bare hands. Good, then add a few percentage points.

I think this new ramp test + extra seems like a good idea on the outside, but I think the problem is what do you actually do with that data? If I know that your VO2max power (as measured by the testing protocol) is 122 % of your FTP, what do you want to do with that information? You could say “Well, scale up all VO2max workouts accordingly.”, but perhaps you want to work on your weaknesses instead and don’t need the extra fatigue.

The Sufferfest also offers 4D power, and one of the data points is your sprint point. Sprint power is trained very quickly, but equally quickly lost. So in the base phase, where you don’t do any sprint training, your sprint power may be low, because there is no using training sprint power. So you will test low in the 4D test — what do you do with that data point without context?

Personally, I think it’d still be neat if TrainerRoad kept track of 4D power data points, though, because perhaps they will figure out ways to make use of this data sometime in the future. Who knows. Or it is just of interest to the athletes to explicitly know their numbers.

But clearly, TrainerRoad right now has other fish to fry. Plan Builder is still incomplete, because it is semi-dynamic, semi-static. This is not a criticism, and what they released is a minimum viable product that is an improvement to what they had before. The Covid-19 pandemic threw a monkey wrench into their works, and they pushed hard to get group workouts done — which is a more important (meta) feature IMHO. That could enable classes, public group workouts, you name it.

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Didn’t coach Chad once say training is testing and testing is training. It’s all work and experience of one sort or another.

I like the TR ramp test protocol and the fact that the training sessions that follow are designed to create various adaptations depending on where you are at. Horses for courses if you feel that another product gives you better results go for it - but as @vladrath said TR used a ton of data to fine tune and develop theirs - where’s the science behind the SF one?

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I like the added 20min HR gauged ending to this test. I think there is quite a lot of value in recovery HR profiling and also being able to have a measurement for your LTHR at the end of the test. HR + Power is really really important.

I can assume SF has some reasoning and science behind the HR approach to the finishing 20mins post-RAMP and I think this is a very interesting testing addition. I’d try it.

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A friend who doesn’t ride road much put up a ramp test ftp that was ridiculous for him to achieve in SS workouts. I knew as much based on riding with him with my power meter. I’m talking at least 20% over. Result was he had to constantly adjust down, which he resisted doing despite each SS workout blowing his HR way too high too early and overall didn’t have a very good experience with the training.

Then we have piles of threads about whether 120% is the magic number, what does it mean if I turn it down, etc. So the problem exists on that end as well.

I love the ramp test and it works well enough for me as a single value for TR workouts. But there is definitely opportunity for a more integrated and directed approach from TR to offer more in depth power profiling and feedback on target setting for shorter vs longer efforts. It would only help them motivate and retain users better, especially new ones. Maybe steer new users towards a supplemental test if they know they are biased towards short efforts based on a few intro questions, or suggest something if they fail their first SS or VO2 workout post ramp test or blow up HR by a big margin, etc. Users like my friend aren’t going to spend hours on the forum figuring it out or reading 100 pages of arguments about what is correct for VO2max intervals, can they only be 8 minutes long at 108% or you’re stupid for doing anything else because Seiler says 8 mins is the holy gospel, etc… They’ll get frustrated and do something else like zwift, or maybe Sufferfest.

I really like the TR product for lots of other reasons along with the ramp test that works for me, but too many threads here become echo chambers of people arguing the TR approach is perfect as is when there is clearly room to improve on this front. And I have no doubt TR recognizes that as they have a strong continuous improvement philosophy. No need to trash competitors that are trying to push that envelope in their own way. The pressure is good.

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This exactly, each time the question gets asked about power profiling and 95% of people will say that the ramp test is the ideal way to do things and yet there are literally so many forum posts about failing workouts that are too hard for them which could IMO could have been avoided by having workouts tailored to your physiological capabilities rather than a seemingly hit or miss test.

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The “best” testing protocol is a fallacy. What’s important is that the demands of workouts that follow are closely correlated to the FTP estimate produced by the testing protocol.

This can be achieved through SF’s testing protocol, TR’s protocol or a straight hour time trial.

Remember that any protocol is an estimate unless you’re in a lab and drawing blood, testing lactate levels.

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I dunno…I am a bit suspect of a protocol that uses the output of effort (HR) to (at least partially) determine the input (wattage).

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I’m not a fan of using HR on a test like this to help validate the results. HR is too variable on a ride-to-ride basis, even among similar intervals. It makes a better metric to plot over time, as that helps even out the variability, and you can see trends.

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Yet the SF site is sprinkled with trash talk about TR; not explicitly, obviously for legal reasons, but heavily implied.

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Even in the video in this thread, they took a shot at “not warming up on your ramp test.” This is something the TR folks have talked about in length numerous times, on why it is like it is. But as a soundbite to make your new test sound good to the uninformed, its probably effective. Not a fan though.

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FWIW, go back 10 years and research how pros were testing in real life, y’know, before all these online gadgets and fads. Or better yet, email SF head coach, who supposedly is Rohan Dennis’ coach, and ask him how many times Dennis has taken the SF tests.

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