Super disappointing FTP Ramp Test

I know FTP isn’t all that important in my life.
I’m afraid however, that sticking with my 20min FTP, I will be having a hard time to finish VO2 workouts. On the other hand, using the Ramp Test results, it could make other workouts a breeze and way too easy. I kind of feel I’m in a dilemma here LMAO…

I didn’t do any 4min (or so) VO2’s at all… a lot of tempo and more focus on sustained power…

I would suggest either to use the 20 minute FTP and bump the percent down on the VO2 intervals to what feels repeatable and right for you (the workout text from Coach Chad even says as much), or alternatively use the 211 ramp test number and bump up the percent on the sweet spot intervals to what feels right to you. There’s nothing wrong with taking either of those approaches! Just pick one and run with it. Down the line it will even out as you build up each of your energy systems.

You’re definitely getting a lot of great advice here, the only thing I’d add is that a couple days of active recovery before re-trying your Ramp Test will help a lot.

I know when I take a few days off after a hard event, and then just try to jump into a hard workout, I feel stale and can almost never hit my targets. A couple days of shorter endurance rides as part of active recovery really help me feel like I can wake up the legs a little bit, and it seems to make a significant difference for the next workout that follows! :raised_hands:

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here is the way I see it:

  • TrainerRoad workouts use Coggan Classic levels / zones (Coggan calls them levels, most people call them zones)
  • the zones from Recovery up to Threshold are based on a reasonably accurate FTP estimate
  • these zones translate well from person to person, as long as you have a reasonably accurate FTP estimate
  • on the other hand, vo2max and anaerobic zones are highly individual and % above FTP does not translate well between individuals (when TR workout calls for 120%, I might only be able to do 115% and someone else might do them at 125%)
  • IMHO your goal should be to find a test protocol that gives a reasonably good FTP estimate, a power you can hold from say 30-70 minutes, and use that protocol for testing
  • for vo2max and anaerobic workouts, you should individualize workout intensity in the TR app

The ramp test estimates max aerobic power (MAP), and the rule of thumb is that most people have an FTP somewhere in the 72-78% of MAP. TR uses 75% and lets say your MAP is 333W which gives an estimate of FTP from 240 to 260W. TR will estimate FTP of 250W, but if your multiplier should really be 72% then your FTP sweet spot and threshold workouts should be 240W. Having recently done a hard sweet spot block around those FTPs, I can tell you that 250W FTP would have blown me up and made the SS and threshold workouts too hard. The flip side is TR estimates 250 and your multiplier is higher, say 78% which is 260W and at least with this case you aren’t blowing up and can’t complete workouts. Ric Stern developed the ramp test for cyclists in the 1990s, and I’ve read a recommendation that if using a ramp test, use it to estimate your target for a 20-min or longer test (longer test is his preference).

(my preference is longer tests 35 to 60 minutes at threshold, its basically like doing a 2x20 threshold workout without the rest between and its relatively easy to FEEL threshold as I push a little harder and know whether its too hard or just right)

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This is mindset training like nothing else I’ve ever encountered, unfortunately.

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Lot of good advice:

Indoor is different from outdoor
Ramp test is different from 20min and 20min is different from 8 or 30min tests
If you prepare specifically for the ramp test (extra rest, extra fuel, taper your training etc) you can definately put up a higher number

But why?

You are now conducting multiple tests to measure the same fitness. Unless you think you could sail through the entire minute where you failed and then a minute even higher, your time might be better spent trying to increase fitness rather that trying to get a higher number with more pre-test preparation.

I have done similar things on Strava segments, I want to get a great time so I fuel, taper for a few days then ride to the beginning of the segment at Z1 , EXPLODE for 5-30minutes and struggle home. So I did 5-30min of flat out intensity in THREE DAYS. Not a goood way to improve. Some will point out that I could do it multiple times but my head would melt in my visored, aero helmet.

I and probably most people leave something on the table when doing a ramp test. Yes we could probably have hung on a few more seconds. Realistically, I could never have hung on another 15 seconds so maybe I tested 1W low.

Best to look at this as a lilfe long process, Life is not FTP, it is dropping the kid in the dinasaur helmet on the bike path.

Someday

And is that a bad thing? If so why? Is there science to back that up? If its bad why is it part of the ramp test to have that function?
:thinking:
Just interested :grin:

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My 20min FTP test is always about 5-10% higher than ramp test results.

This is my own theories and it’s probably all bro science so take it with a grain of salt

  1. I am not an explosive rider type. This is obvious because I always struggling with 2min intervals and more comfortable with any intervals above 6min. So if I know I have VO2 max workout coming up, I will struggle if I do 20min ftp test and use that number for the training. Vice versa, if I am doing sustain power build, the workouts would feel too easy if I use ramp test results.

  2. I am not good at ramp test. I have done 20min ftp test for 2-3 years of training. I always feel mentally prepared for it and guiltily enjoy it - looking forward to it tbh. I only started ramp test when TR introduced it. Because I kept seeing lower ftp numbers - and we all know that number defines your worth as a human, I often opt back to 20min ftp test instead. Therefore, I have a really low mental threshold for the pain coming from ramp test.

Bottom line is: you are not alone…My advice is if you can continue your training with the higher number, stick to it. It’s just a number to set your training blocks.

It isn’t a criticism - just a nod to how difficult it is.

I know FTP isn’t all that important but I have to admit that I’m somewhat a numbers geek and I really wanted to know how things compare. So I decided to take the same test that I usually did outside on the indoor trainer. It’s the “Today’s Plan” test protocol and it looks like this:


…of course, the 20min test phase, you have to go as hard as you can and not stick to the HR or Power mentioned in this chart.
So what was the outcome…again, same trainer, same power meter, etc.? The graph shows my 20min effort (zoomed in):

I started slightly too hard and have to say that I had a hard time holding my power in the second half of the test, but still, I’m coming in at 245W.

So what was different compared to the ramp test: I’ve had a full day off yesterday, but I was riding 40 miles on Saturday. Of course, my 160 mile event is also 3 more days ago than what is was on Friday. But should that make a 22W difference?

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I’m a diesel with FTP in 220-260W range, and have had similar ramp test results. I’ve also had the ramp test do a good job estimating FTP. My conclusion was the ramp test is good at setting a ceiling on 5-min vo2max power. And we know the relationship between power at 5-min vo2max and FTP is highly individual and even for an individual can vary across blocks of training.

My conclusion: for me the ramp test is not a good FTP protocol. I’ve gone back to using 20-min and longer tests to estimate FTP.

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I did a ramp test a while back after several days of rest and got 193w, after a training block at 210w. I then did this one hour climb indoors, same power source and all that jazz, 3-4 days later, and held 208w for 59mins. So I have deemed I am a ramp test under-performer. You may be the same.

Because I did 208 for an hour, I actually ended up inching my ftp even higher and was able to complete the workouts. So it’ll all be whether you can complete the workouts consistently.

FWIW, I do have difficulty with longer vo2 and anaerobic workouts…which is probably why the ramp test is not indicative of my ftp.

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It’s still somehow interesting. I wonder what it could look like for people that are the other way around? What is the real FTP then?

You are perfectly fine using the 20min test result in TR. Just swap out all the ramp tests for 20min tests from the workout library.

As others have said, you are likely to struggle with the vo2max workouts, but just reduce the intensity a bit.

I struggle with the ramp test. fwiw I’ve taken to manually adjusting based upon my consistency in the previous block and/or validating with the workout “Lamarck”.

In my case, VO2 Max is a weakness, exposed by the ramp test. I plan to address that with a VO2 Max block, but in the meantime I do sometimes have to reduce the intensity of VO2 Max workouts.

My A, B and C events are all endurance (if they happen), so personally I’d rather train in the “right” zone to develop my sweet spot/ threshold than have them adjusted down on the basis of VO2 Max. That’s my n=1 logic, not based on any real coaching experience though! I’m just not prepared to lower FTP when I’m completing workouts like McAdie +1 at the current “FTP”.

That’s just the classic Coggan/Allen 20min test, same as what’s on TR. Did you go all out for the 5min effort? If not, the 20min effort likely overestimates FTP.

Also, don’t underestimate impact of either physical or mental fatigue during a ramp test. It takes a lot of focus to really push to failure. You should be able to bang out a ramp test pretty much any time (except right after a 200k ride…) so why not just give it another shot? I usually do best after a couple days of moderately hard rides, and terrible after a bunch of rest.

FWIW, I always do a ramp test and 20min test within the same timeframe. I like the repeatability of the ramp protocol, and 20min is just a great TT practice. Worth mentioning that I hate the 5min blowout in the 20min test, so I don’t do it :slight_smile: I like the TT practice and just know that the result tends to be ~2-3% high.

Early this year I was also starting to add in more of a long test (Kolie Moore) to get a better idea of my TTE at the ramp/20 estimates. Over time you learn how they really correlate for you and your “real” FTP. I think that’s an important point of all this - none of these tests are perfect or the same for everyone. You have to be patient and pay attention to performance over time, learn how you react to each and make informed decisions for setting your FTP.

here my 5 min effort:

I don’t think my 20min FTP is wrong, as I also did the 4x20min efforts recently, that looked like that:


I do not believe, that if my FTP was 211 watts, that I could have maintained the above 4 times for 20min. with only 5min rest in between efforts (I completed this workout on August 5th or so).
I know that the Lamarck targets FTP for 10min but I think this workout is at least as hard to complete?

So no, you probably didn’t go all out. I’m not saying one test result is more accurate than the other. Only you can make that assessment. My best guess based on all of the info here is that you had a bad ramp test and didn’t follow the 20min protocol, and as a result your FTP is somewhere between the two estimates. 4x20 at FTP is more than doable, but unless you were dying by the end your FTP is probably above 215… My vote is 225 :slight_smile:

So getting back to the original post - do another ramp test and just don’t stop as early as last time :slight_smile: Don’t worry about resting up and doing anything special, just prepare like a normal tough workout. Be prepared for a world of pain once you hit the 18+ minute mark. This is something you do get better at the more you do it. I find that it helps to pick a time that you want to get to… I always shoot for 20 minutes, and the last 90 secs are brutal. 19:30 is break even (new FTP will be >= current setting). So do the test with FTP set to your 20 min estimate and try to get to 20 minutes.

I honestly think they should stop using the word ftp here. The ramp test is giving you a training target (in watts) based upon a normalized distribution of TR riders’ experiences using the training programs based upon the number this test gave them. That is all that it is. I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds of what functional threshold really means (and there are a lot of podcasts about this) but this test is not giving you that number. Period. It might correlate but it is not intrinsically the same thing.

I’d suggest parking your ftp ego at the door (we all should) and just get on with the training at the number it gave you. See how it feels.

useless anecdote below<

I rode my bike to work a lot. (one way) for over a year. These rides were between 2:15:00 and 3:30:00 (depending on route). 4 - 5 days a week. I have done a lot of steady state riding more recently. My ability to maintain 85% for 2-3 hours on a regular basis built a very specific type of fitness. Things I’m not good at. -> intervals, vO2max, sprints. The tr ramp test (when I originally tried it) underestimated my ftp by a good 7-10%. But what it did do was predict how good I’d be at the training…which as soon as I was in build crushed me because of intervals and vO2max efforts.

I stopped using trainer road at that point, because I was training for a very specific thing, which was raising my lower threshold as high as I could to maintain an endurance pace for 16 hours. I’m not saying it wouldn’t have worked, I’m saying I couldn’t negotiate the app in such a way to help me continue the arc of training that I was on.

so now, because I was off the bike for a while I’m trying it again, and I’m going to stick to the plan. See what happens. I’m also not planning a 16 hour bike ride…at least probably not this year. :smiley: I find threshold intervals absolutely awful, I’d much rather just hit my threshold and ride for an hour than wind up and down over and over. Sweet spot is quite easy, and in build II the vO2 work so far has been right on target, the last interval burns in a good way.

So a lot of text to say, you are training in a specific way, which will result in a specific type of fitness with a training plan that is underpinned by a specific protocol to help you achieve maximum results with said plan. Simple right? :wink: It is not a scientific protocol to define your lactate threshold. :innocent:

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