TR Ramp Test vs Sufferfest 4DP- FTP depends on rider type?

I just finished a SF base training plan and am starting a TR build plan. So, I have done the Sufferfest 4DP test and the TR ramp test basically back-to-back over the course of 4 days.

  • I did the SF test first.

    • My 4DP numbers were- 20min (FTP) - 241W, 5min- 308W, 1 min- 458W, 15s -852W.
    • I was classified as an “attacker” based, from what I understand, on the ratios of 1 minute and 5 minute to 20minute powers.
  • Next I did the TR ramp test and got a FTP of 258W.

    • 17W higher than SF.

  1. So, what do I use as FTP for my build plan?
  2. Is my TR number larger because the test is shorter in duration and I apparently am better at shorter efforts?
  3. Does that bias the results?

My current plan is to use the TR number to start out the build plan and see how I do on the workouts. I can always revise downward toward the SF numbers if I need to.

Any opinions?

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Sounds like a solid plan.
My guess is the SF number is closer to your actual hour power, while the TR number is influenced more by your anaerobic abilities.
TR’s plans are built around their own tests though ,so it’s possible you’ll be able to complete the workouts without a problem (if not without suffering :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:)

If you fail multiple workouts over 1-2 weeks or feel they totally bury you I’d incrementally adjust downward until you can reliably finish 99%.

This is one of the limitations of a ramp test. The result is driven by a combo of VO2 max, FTP and anaerobic contributions.

From SF, your 5 min power (which approximates power at VO2max is 128% of your FTP. The “average” is somewhere in the 120% range, which shows you are differentially strong on VO2max vs FTP. This is why the TR ramp test gives you a higher FTP vs SF.

To start with, it’s best to use your TR FTP for the TR plans, as the power targets in the workouts are designed to work based off the results of the TR ramp test.

Given your profile, you may find that the threshold workouts in the TR plans are very difficult. And that you may need to drop the intensity for these. But the VO2max workouts are about right.

By the way, before making any judgements based on your experience with TR workouts, recognize that the workouts earlier in the plans are easier, with IFs often in the mid 80s. Wait until you do some workouts with IF in the high 80s low 90s before concluding if something is too easy or difficult.

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I’d use the TR Ramp Test numbers for the TR plans.

On a separate note, I have a very low opinion of the 4DP test


This. Use whichever protocol your training platform uses. The workouts are then going based on the assumptions used in the test.

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Can you expand? (Not starting an argument, just interested in different points of view)

  1. Difficult to reproduce, even at the same fitness you’re unlikely to get the same result
  2. Sub-maximal efforts, since you’re fatigued for every test other than the first one they are not actually your best efforts so fudge factor has to be introduced
  3. Relatively ‘expensive’ in that it’s high intensity for an hour so it breaks up your training meaning you can’t, or won’t, test as often

(standard “this is my opinion” disclaimer)

The protocol comes from Apex/Neal Henderson who obviously has good coaching credentials, but was definitely using other biological markers during his protocols. 4DP is certainly a condensed and distillation of his experience to fit within the constraints of the program.

My main issue is that you aren’t capturing maximal data due to fatigue and the ability to consistently execute the protocol multiple times with accuracy is likely going to be low for most cyclists. Obviously they’ve built these assumptions into their training plans, but I generally dislike this practice.

As the anaerobic contribution of the rider changes throughout the course of the season, it’s going to have varying effects on the numbers and their ability to recover and do the next effort, making it hard to compare from test to test.

There are numerous studies showing that the reconstitution of energy stores varies both on an individual level and based on the severity of the effort.

The way that I’m personally structuring my training to capture this information this year:

  • I have a test “week” where I try to capture maximal data for major time periods (5-15s, 1 minute, 5 minute via Ramp Test, and long test to exhaustion using Ramp Test target FTP)
  • I test less often (only around once every 90 days)
  • I use WKO4 to keep a modeled FTP as a reference point

The time involved in testing is a fair criticism. I did a 12 week SF base plan and the only test was in the very last week. And that whole week was aimed at the test with easy days and tapering as if it was a key race. So, if you tested more often than once every 12 weeks or so you’d end up spending a large fraction of the training plan preparing to test and testing.

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If you do regular efforts at a variety of times from 1 to 60 minutes I find the WKO4 model very predictive. It all depends on keeping the PDC curve supplied with good data.

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You should also point out that using WKO4 for your FTP means that you need to periodically make maximal efforts along your power curve to maintain an accurate FTP as the model deviates from your data. It’s not ‘no testing’ just ‘no fixed test protocol’ that’s done on a schedule like TrainerRoad does.


True, but a lot of my workouts from my coach involve maximal efforts in a specific duration on the short side of the power curve, so it’s pretty rare that I specifically go hunting for a data point.

There are some good reports available now in WKO4 that highlight the data points to target. It is a bit like seeing the exam questions the day before. You still need to put the right effort in/ answer the question correctly.

I had similar results. My one hour TT power is 302 watts, My 4DP 20 min result a month later was 281 watts (on a Windows 7 laptop) with a corresponding Garmin 510 recorded power of 303 watts. However, TR’s ramp test put me at 319 watts. Since 4DP pegged me as a pursuiter, that means I’m better at anaerobic work. I found that using SF workouts based on the 281w FTP were too easy, but conversely, TR workouts based on 319w FTP were too challenging. So, I’m going stick with the one hour TT power, or just 95% of my TR ramp test result, for setting FTP.