Underperfoming on ramp test despite successful workouts

Hey everyone!

So for the last few ramp tests I have underperformed on what I felt should have been achievable. I was performing my workouts at 235 watts and have dropped to 222 after this last ramp test. I weigh around 68 kilograms. I have nailed all but one workout last training block (sweet spot base 1) and felt pretty good doing them (relatively). The last ramp test I performed last go around yielded similar, yet worse results. I went from a 240 watt FTP to 215 (still had pretty successful workouts before that catastrophic drop as well). Afterwards I just bumped my FTP up incrementally after a workout until they felt difficult again.

I do feel that my life has been more or less consistent with stress. Sleep has been a struggle as I have a 2 month old, however it has been consistent (albeit consistently low). Diet has also been consistent.

I went into the test with a fairly positive attitude and my legs felt like within 20 seconds went from “okay” to 40 rpms, then to failure.

My question is with the information that I currently have should I continue with my old 235 FTP and chalk this test up to some unknown externality…or accept my fate with a lowered FTP despite really nailing all my workouts and power targets prior to the test?

If I should disregard the test, what do you think is causing me to underperform during my ramp tests? I am really at a loss here.

Thank you guys for all that you do! Love the podcast, 5 stars!

I’m like the president of underperforming on ramp tests despite nailing difficult workouts. Lol

I did short power build HV with a 290w ftp and completed some difficult workouts and I just couldn’t mentally bring myself past the 260w point on a test last week. You have to be somewhat flexible with thinking and realize the test isn’t everything, especially if the training evidence suggests you can complete workouts. I upped mine to 295 and have been successful so far in CX specialty HV.

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Saaaaame! Ramped at 190, was doing workouts at 210. Ramped again got a whopping 193, was doing workouts at 215.

Oddly enough, my ramp test on zwift get within a watt or two of what I end up training at! It’s a different ramp rate.

I just don’t even bother now with the TrainerRoad ramp test. I am planning to do the Kolie Moore TTE test in the near future!

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My uneducated guess is that Sweet Spot Base 1 just doesn’t provide enough training stress. I have noticed this myself after completing SSB1 - SSB2 - Build - Speciality, that when I restart the process, it just isn’t enough training stress. I’ve noticed that intervals.icu seems to think so also, as the eFTP is slowly but constantly decreasing as the weeks in SSB1 goes by.

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How’s your recovery and how did your week leading up to the ramp test go?

For what? SSB is building your aerobic base. Depending on where you are in your :sparkles: training journey :sparkles: that may not increase your threshold, but it will do what it says on the tin.

eFTP is only as accurate as the max efforts you feed it. If you’re doing SSB1, you’re doing a lot of sub-threshold work, and not a lot of anything else. I remember @davidtinker saying there’s some algorithmic degrading of the value the longer you ride without max efforts, and you’re not doing max efforts on SSB1.

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Don’t think of it as underperforming. If you’re going to your limit during the test, you’re not underperforming.

The ramp test assumes some things about you as a rider. They’re general assumptions that work well enough for most people, but they don’t work for everybody. If your threshold power and max aerobic power have a different relationship than the one the ramp test assumes, you’re going to get an inaccurate threshold estimate when you do a ramp test.

You’ve got a couple of these under your belt now, so you’ve got options:

  • Do your own math. The ramp assumes your threshold is 75% of the highest 1-minute power during the test. Maybe your actual relationship is more like 77% or 80%. Go back and look at the ramps you’ve done, and compare the max 1-minute power to the threshold you ended up using. If it’s consistent, maybe you keep using the ramp test, but change the math.
  • Use a different test. There are 8-minute and 20-minute protocols in the catalog, and there’s a pretty popular alternative from Kolie Moore. The longer your test, the harder it is to pace, and the more accurate it’ll be if you pace it well.
  • Keep going by feel. Progress is progress :tada:
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From the level you were training at, at the height of build/specialty phase. The training stress is drastically reduced when you revert back to SSB1. So at least to me, it makes sense that it will lead to a loss of fitness?

From what I read about eFTP on intervals.icu it decays if it estimates that your current training is not sufficient to keep the level of fitness.

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That is correct. However the decay is fairly arbitrary. It doesn’t seem right to keep the same eFTP if you are reducing training load but how much to decay is a big question. The algorithm needs a long enough max effort every now and then. You can click the “eFTP” number on a ride and it will tell you the eFTP for that particular ride. So if you do a proper max effort on good legs and get a lower number then thats it :slight_smile: … but the software doesn’t know that.

You can add a calendar entry with category “Set eFTP” reset it e.g. after an injury break or whatever when you know you have lost a lot of fitness and want to see it going up again.

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Maybe try the 8-min FTP test? I know it’s not the same “measuring stick” but it could get closer to the FTP you use as a base for the workouts. I personally get better results on the 8-min test vs ramp test, nothing major, around 2-3% difference.

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My bit of encouragement here is that the sleep does improve from about 6 months onwards. The first 6 months are a test of your character to say the least - especially if you are trying to juggle a newborn and structured training on the same plate. When you are staring down the barrel of 3-5 hours broken sleep a night, you start thinking how on earth am I going to get on the bike today?! I feel you mate. I really do! I have been there and have had some really sub-optimal performances on the bike because of the lack of sleep. The good news is that when they start sleeping through the night at around 12 months old you see the light again!

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Honestly, your story suggests that you in fact grew in FTP, and that the two original tests were correct.

Go with the flow and allow the program to guide you. Trust the process and you’ll see growth and focus less on raw numbers.