Testing protocols

I’ve been mostly testing with the ramp test this season but have found in the last few months that my final result is heavily dependent on mood and motivation, which makes fine improvements hard to detect if you have a power dropout or anything put you off.

Is it worth trying a different testing protocol next time round? Or maybe cycling through them to avoid complacency/over familiarity?

As an aside, I’m running an Elite Muin and a power meter, no no ERG mode. I’ve seen that ERG is recommended for the ramp test. Should I maybe switch? (trainer or testing protocol?)

All testing protocols require a hard effort, so if you’re not feeling it on said day the end result will always be lower.

IMO a lot of the testing protocols are too short and often give an overinflated number which is great for bragging rights, but dampens your training in the long run…just look at the number of topics on TR where people struggle to hold intervals over FTP or sweet spot efforts.

ERG mode is handy for the ramp test as you can concentrate on turning the pedals but it’s not the be all and end all as cyclists have been performing ramp tests for years, long before smart trainers were around.

Whatever testing method you decide upon then stick with it as it will be easier to compare fitness changes in the long run.

As an owner of a dumb trainer (KK Road Machine) I’d love to try a ramp test in ERG mode. One of the biggest issues for me is that when I get up 300w+ I find it much more difficult to get the right gear/cadence combo and trying to find the right one destroys any rhythm I had going.

Might make the switch to an Elite Suito or Tacx Flux S this Winter.

How does changing tests fix this?

Seems to me that you should keep the same test for consistency and work on those other areas.

Maybe you will prefer the 1x20 or 2x8, but no testing is easy. All of them require focus and involvement to great degrees and you need to be on you A-game to do them well.

Switching tests just seems like the wrong way to ‘fix’ this issue to me.


I too use a dumb trainer. It can be difficult to find the right combo for cadence/gearing… especially when your brain isn’t functioning well at the end of the ramp test.

Anyway, as Chad mentioned above, changing protocol won’t fix the motivation issue.

The idea behind the ramp test from TR’s standpoint was to develop short and sweet assessment. Personally, I prefer it over 8/20 minute protocols as I am not very good at pacing those efforts. I started with 2x8 min when I first began with TR. I definitely didn’t pace those first two assessments well at all.

The short answer is to pick whatever assessment you prefer and always use that going forward (or switch if you like but then be consistent from that point forward)

Skip the test, then. Just add XX Watts to your FTP & continue training. Within a week you’ll know if you added too much or not. Add 5 Watts! Anybody can do 5 more Watts, correct? :wink:


You can try the longer form ftp testing. Getting good at going hard for 30-60 minutes has some non-zero amount of value.


Having gone through the various testing protocols, my preference is:

  • Long test for FTP/Sweetspot blocks
  • 5 minute all out test for VO2 blocks (rested test before a block, and rested test after)

I’m partial to Joe Friel’s 30 minute TT, using the average power from the test instead on average HR of last 20 minutes (just happen to have a stretch of road, lightly used, nearby for the test). Baseline, 35-45 minutes protocol for indoors. As a check, validation/monitor, I use normalized power from a hard ~1 hour ride (Saturday hammerfest).

Here’s the alternatives/guidelines for estimate FTP, The Seven Deadly Sins and The Sins of Sins

I would like to point out three people linked Kolie’s article on testing.

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Yeah, I guess that means I should give it a try :slight_smile: My one concern is that it seems to rely on a fairly accurate estimate of FTP to produce good results (using the average of entire test). Having WKO as a backup to estimate the FTP based on efforts that don’t exactly match the prescription is likely required to make this useful as a routine test.

Really it’s partly just down to learning to ride to feel. This is some of the notes from one of my FTP tests using this protocol:

GOALS: #1 is keep your breathing from going ragged. It will be heavy, but if it gets out of control you’re going too hard, back it off. #2 is to pay attention to your effort level more than the power reading. Re-assess your legs feeling vs how much time you have remaining.

Basically learning how to know what being at FTP feels like and learning to to judge how much is left in the tank. If that’s all that you can do… that’s all you can do and that’s a pretty good estimate of your FTP.

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As long as you don’t go out too hard in the first ten minutes, you don’t need a good estimate ahead of time. In fact, you can do the entire test without looking at your power meter if needed.

Your brain and your body are better at pacing than you think. There is research to back this up.

I’ll also add that the long tests actually hurt a lot less IME than the 20 and 8 minute tests and are easier to recover from

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I prefer the 1x20 Test because it’s also a great workout. I didn’t like doing a ramp test and then another 30-45 minute workout.

It helps that I enjoy hard steady state efforts and I get to work on pacing with the longer test.

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I’ve recently started doing longer tests and I definitely prefer them. I just hammer up Alpe de Zwift as fast as I can, takes me about 50 mins at 3.9w/kg. I do it in ERG mode (custom workout) with a long interval set to what I think is my FTP and adjust up and down as I go. First 10 mins are a little conservative and then I gradually try to increase the watts.

By the end of it there’s really no confusion about what your FTP is, and you don’t have to psych yourself up before you start because the test is more of a slow burn. :slight_smile:

I listened in on Kolie’s recent WKO webinar on his Force-Velocity Model and based on his clear analytical cycling knowledge I read through his FTP protocol. I did find the protocol having merit (as does the FVM). However, I find that his analysis and criticism of 20 minute tests is not applicable to Hunter Allen’s 20min protocol as detailed in Training + Racing with a Power Meter. More specifically, the 5 minute “All-out effort” that precedes the 20min TT in Hunter’s FTP protocol has the effect of substantially reducing the anaerobic contribution to the TT effort. As such, the comparison of the 2 riders’ aerobic vs anaerobic contribution on their respective PDC’s is not applicable.

FWIW: I have been using Hunter’s protocol for several years and while I consider certain other protocols to have merit, IMO Hunter’s protocol remains the gold standard.

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To quote Kolie from elsewhere on Hunter’s protocol:

The pre-fatiguing efforts before a 20min test still has varying levels of accuracy, especially with high FRC/fast twitch athletes. You never end up at a consistent % FTP for 20min. And it changes based on training status.

My app Intervals.icu estimates FTP using any max effort of at least 3 minutes (configurable) to place you on a predefined power curve. This is a generalisation of 95% of 20m or 75% of 5m etc… This has the advantage that you might get a good number from a race or group ride or just a “good legs day” without having to specifically psyche up for a test. From what I have read a ramp test is probably more accurate, but then you have to test! :slight_smile:


I’ve done both the TR Ramp test and the Kolie Long test, both results were very similar. The Ramp is favourable to those with some recent VO2 training; the Long suits riders with more steady state threshold training. Pick your poison.

Yes! I’m very annoyed by the constant assault. Most people forget, ignore, or are ignorant of the VO2 Max test component of Hunter’s FTP test and only concentrate on the 20 minutes TT, adamantly applying 95%, and equating 60 minutes MMP to FTP (“about” = “is”). It’s the third, equals, fallacy that really burns. Reminds me of calling the world flat because one cannot see over the horizon.

I choose to do other tests because

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