Super disappointing FTP Ramp Test

Hi guys,

I’m very new to TR and also to the Ramp Test. So far, I did all my training outdoors and therefore I also did my FTP tests outdoors (always the 20min test protocol). I use the same power meter outside as I now do inside despite having a smart trainer - I wanted to make sure the results and training are comparable.
My last outdoor 20 min FTP test was on August 3 (232 watts).
I have to say though, that I just finished an event past Saturday (over 9 hours, 160 miles, over night) but thought I had some decent recovery days following this event.
When I jumped on my bike this morning to give my very first TR ramp test a shot, I was very disappointed/surprised to see, that it predicts my FTP to be 211 Watts. Thats 21 Watts below my August 3 20min FTP test.
I’m now wondering a few things:

  • I know I can put out decent power for longer distances but my peak power is rather low. In other words: I can maintain almost FTP (232 Watts) for 30 minutes, or more but I cannot maintain high wattages for shorter periods of time. Would that make the Ramp Test giving me a low number as it goes quite beyond my FTP?
  • Was my recovery time not enough after my event last weekend?
  • should I retake the test in 2 days or so?
  • should I simply accept the results and go from there?

thanks
winoria

My gut is that your recovery time was not sufficient.

Still, you say you can maintain “almost” FTP for 30 minutes. Can you maintain FTP for 2x20 minutes with 4-5 minutes rest? If not, then the 20-minute test value is probably too high.

I’d either go with the result and see how the workouts feel (maybe try something like Lamarck as a test case) or retest in a couple days.

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thanks for the quick response. Here is a screenshot of a Threshold 20’s workout from August 5:

4 x 20min attempts followed by 5min recovery. What do you think?
Of course I didn’t hold my 232 threshold for 4x 20 min and I think this workout was pretty hard.

In addition to what @megsambit said, I think there is another thing at work here. The ramp test also tests your anaerobic/high power ability in those final minutes. You admit your short duration high power is not great, and this is likely part of the reason you got a lower number for FTP. Remember that FTP in this instance is the baseline for also establishing those high power short intervals. 120% of 232 FTP is 278 watts. 120% of 211 FTP is 253 watts. Which of those numbers do you think you can hold for 3 minutes 6 times in one workout?

What I would do if I were you is bump the power up on the sweet spot and threshold intervals by maybe 2-3%, but keep the 211 FTP. And for any intervals of 110% to 120% of FTP, I would keep the power level where it is at. This will progress you through high power intervals to build up that system while you continue to maintain your steady state at its current output.

I came into TR with a similar ability to yours and just followed the progression by accepting the number even though it was lower than I wanted to be. I’ve gained 30+ watts on FTP now and my repeatability of high power between 2-5 minutes has increased dramatically from following the plan. My 120% FTP numbers 1 year ago are now around my threshold. Stick with the plan and it will make you faster.

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There’s a pretty good discussion about why FTP isn’t everything on this week’s podcast. As you know, FTP is just a number to base your training zones on. @megsambit has great suggestions to 1) retest after a little more rest and 2) see how you feel on a test workout. A ramp test and 20-minute test are similar but do stress the body in slightly different ways, so I would not expect the results to be identical, but not 10% apart either.

For your 4x20 workout, was it in erg? If not, how consistent were you in holding the target power (i.e. pacing)?

(BTW, what app / program / website did you use to create that graph. I like it.)

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For your 4x20 workout, was it in erg? If not, how consistent were you in holding the target power (i.e. pacing)?(BTW, what app / program / website did you use to create that graph. I like it.)

That workout was outdoors, so no ERG but pure roads :slight_smile: . The graph is automatically created by “today’s plan”. I used today’s plan to prepare for my last event. I currently try to decide if I stick with todays plan and TR or TR & TP…
I will do a retest and a test workout and see how it goes. How much recovery do you recommend before retesting?

The way the ramp test algorithm works, to match your current FTP, you need to go about 133% of your current FTP for 1 minute AFTER being above FTP, at progressively higher watts, for about 6+ minutes.

For the 20 minute test, you have to be at 105% of FTP steady state for 20 minutes to match.

Its not hard to see how some people might fair better on one test protocol over another.

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here is a detailed look at the 4x 20:

this is my FTP test from August 3:

How do your VO2 intervals look? The last few minutes of a ramp test both physically and mentally is a VO2 effort. If nothing else, if you’re not mentally used to that effort level and eeking out additional seconds it will jack with your ramp test results as its a unique type of suffering and quitting just 20 seconds “early” can have a significant effect on results given the math.

Also don’t discount fatigue. A 160 mile event was likely taxing AND fatigue from that type of riding often has a disproportionate effect on top end power.

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How do your VO2 intervals look?

well, I don’t know how TR’s VO2 intervals are compared to Today’s Plan, but this was an VO2 intermittent workout:








Some additional considerations:

  • Cooling outside vs inside makes a big difference. Testing outside is not the same thing as testing inside as a result. I think it’s unlikely that you’ll get the same numbers.
  • Rest matters. If you’re overly fatigued going into any test, you’ll unlikely achieve your best performance
  • Testing protocols. As many have suggested a 20min test vs Ramp Test are different and will introduce variation. The major benefit of the Ramp Test is that it removes pacing as a variable but it’s still a new format. It’s common for people in their first Ramp Test to get some wacky results since they don’t know what to expect from the protocol. Experience makes a difference in all types of testing.

Recommendations:

  • Don’t expect the numbers in a 20 min outside test to be the same as inside on the Ramp Test
  • Remember that an FTP number is beneficial to help set your training zones, it’s not a measure of self-worth.
  • The trend is more important than any point in time number, so therefore consistency of training protocols matters. Just pick a testing protocol and stick with it over the long term so that you can assess the impact of your training.
  • If you intend to do more structured indoor training and intend to continue to use the Ramp Test as your preferred testing protocol in the future, I think you have two options. 1) Retest in a couple of days when you’re not fatigued and you know what to expect from doing the Ramp Test. You’ll likely end up with a result that is closer to what you expect, or validates the one you already have 2) Just accept the number and get training. If the workouts are just way too easy, make a manual adjustment and bump it up 10 watts and see how that goes. If you’re following a TR plan, you’ll be retesting in 6 weeks anyway. A slightly lower FTP setting for 6 weeks is not going to kill your training benefits. Progress happens over months and years, not days and weeks.

Isn’t “Super Disappointing” like the default setting for an FTP test?

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I will go for an easy outdoor spin tomorrow, will completely rest Sunday and will try another Ramp Test on Monday. I will stick with the Ramp Test as I want to continue to do indoor training. My outdoor training was also structured but tailored towards my 160 mile event (actually, it was a 12 hour event but I had enough after 9:20ish or so :slight_smile:). I have to say that I also really like the “Today’s Plan” training plans but they are not so great for indoors as I don’t want to spend 4-6 hours on an indoor trainer to get the endurance workout in…

I’ve not seen the Today’s Plan but working non stop for say a 90 minute TR endurance workout will yield better results as you don’t stop pedalling and if you do the workout pauses. How many times do you ride outside and not stop pedalling for the same duration? Probably not many, if at all. This is where indoor trumps outside - no stopping, no coasting, no traffic, no turns etc so it can be super focused.

Er, have to disagree on this, the ramp test is 75% of your max one minute power. So if say each ramp is say 18 Watts, then lasting that whole minute will add around 13.5 so 20 seconds longer will yield around 4 and a bit. Depends on the size of each step which are based I believe as a percentage of your current FTP so if its lower so will be each step. I think each step on mine last time was around this at 290.
:grin: If you want to know suffering set it up on a lap top or PC and watch that estimated FTP number, nudge up, slowly…

I’m not picking on this to have a go just to let @winoria know that lastibg an extra 20 seconds or so won’t pick up massive gains but they will be gains. As others have said rest etc could easily be the key.

:thinking: So over 20 Watts would be, I reckon, at least a minute longer - but then it’s just a testing protocol to anchor your training too.

Those efforts are 30/30s and I would say they are wildly different from 3-minute intervals that I and others are referencing. The last 3-5 minutes of a ramp test often are like riding one of those longer 120% FTP intervals.

I always find those short shorts (30/30s, 40/20s, etc.) to be more like riding at sweet spot for the duration in terms of heart rate and overall effort. Whereas riding at 120% FTP for 2-3 minutes is a far more intense experience because you cannot catch your breath every 30 seconds. You’ll also be above your threshold heart rate by the end of each 2-3 minute interval in most cases. I find that with a ramp test, my heart rate goes even higher than the 120% intervals because the point is to test until exhaustion, and for me that is often 10 beats more per minute than 120% intervals.

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So maybe that is the reason why I tested low. My VO2 capacity is lacking? It seems there are big differences between training plans form different platforms?

TrainerRoad still has those short shorts and I believe they are still categorized as VO2 intervals. However, the ramp test specifically calls on your ability to do one short, high power 3-5 minute effort at the end to reach exhaustion for your FTP number. If you haven’t done that kind of thing before, I could see you quitting earlier in the test, which would impact your overall FTP number. As @Johnnyvee mentioned in his post, if you quit a minute or so before you really could have, that could be a difference of 20ish watts like what you are experiencing.

I suspect the training plan for your 12-hour event didn’t have many 2-3 minute high power intervals in it because you’d not be aiming to go over threshold in something like that (at least not repeatably). The training emphasis is placed elsewhere. The training you’ve done has prepared you well for the 20-minute test more so than the ramp test. That’s why you are seeing a difference in outcome imo.

Regardless, it’s just a number to set training zones. And for some, the ramp test just doesn’t accurately work for them. There’s an entire thread on just that here on the forum if you want to dive deeper into how others deal with it not working for them.

MY FTP REPRESENTS MY ENTIRE VALUE IN LIFE!!!

:crazy_face:

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