Looking to get some suggestion for my upcoming FTP test next weekend.
In the last 3 months I’ve done the Classic 20-minute test, the ‘Hour of Power’ test, and the Kolie Moore TTE test. I know you’re supposed to be consistent with testing protocols but after getting some fitness back into the legs and lungs I feel as though I should maybe do some version of a Ramp test…?
Should I keep doing the same ‘long format’ tests for consistency?
Should I jump to a more ‘total power’ test for more (perceived) accuracy?
Should I try something new and fangled?
Which is always something I’ve wondered…when should you do the ramp test and when should you do the 8 or 20min test? Should different types of athletes do a different test? Is one more accurate than the other? with the 8 or 20, do you really just need to know what you think your power is going into it?
New to TR plans myself, but here’s my take: I want to know how fit/strong I am in comparison to what I’ve done in the past : a month of Strava-Carmichael plans here and there but a lot of “ride when/as much as/I can.”
I’ve done the 20 minute test in the past. Therefore, I will continue to do the 20 minute test. The Data of Previous Engagements does hold some value to me.
Comparing my 2 ramp tests to the two 20 minute protocols I’ve done in the last 6 weeks, the ramp-calculated results were 15 and 10 watts lower. One conducted the day after a 20 minute protocol and one conducted on pretty fresh legs, and with a longer ride the day leading into the 20 minute test… If I get through this build and the next build phase without too many failed workouts I’ll just do the ramp, add 12+/- (3-5%) watts and move on if I don’t need a threshold workout in that place, but if I need the volume, I don’t see the harm in the 20 minute protocol.
If I fail a bunch of VO2/sprint workouts in the next couple build phases, I’ll just use the ramp, knowing that its weighted to over-threshold limiting factors, which might be my weaknesses.
Maybe, they’ll get closer with more V02 work, maybe riding 8 hours a week will increase my 20 minute production faster. I’m pretty much in the “just ride more consistently” camp for the low-hanging fruit I’ve got left.
It feels to me an awful lot of pressure gets put on one magic number and how it gets tested.
Personally ramp test is easy on the body. Do it and learn how to adjust your workouts based on how your workouts go. I personally find after a new tested FTP I am better off doing some VO2 work and then start week one of the next plan.
I think everybody is best doing the ramp test unless they’ve been training with power long enough and learned enough about themselves to have good personal reasons for doing something else. The fact that you don’t have to pace it means the results are likely to be more consistent from one test to the next. And it’s less daunting and easier to recover from than 2x8 or 20 minutes above threshold.
I’ve done all 3 over the years, plus plenty of TTs or hill climbs in the 30-70 minute range. They’ve all got their pros and cons. I don’t think the ramp test is a particularly good indicator of the power I can hold for an hour, but then I don’t think it needs to be or pretends to be. It’s purpose is to set the difficulty of training workouts. If I want to know the power I can hold for an hour because I have a 40k TT or a mountain climb coming up, then I need to…get out there and do some sustained efforts or B/C races on my TT bike or on some long climbs. Which is exactly what I would do during Specialty phase when tuning up for an event, but not something that I would want to do during base phase.
Im finally getting around to doing an FTP test today, after a week of restful KOM contesting.
To nail a 300w FTP I’ll have to do either of the following:
Ramp test - 21+ min/last 5 min @ 123% av
TTE test - 55+ min/last 30 min @ 110% av
My current month 5min and 30min PRs both fall ~6% lower than the required marks. I’m thinking it’s going to come down to mental effort, my love for the long indoor TTE seems to be waning during these lockdown days.
From the simple calculations, looks as though the days of unstructured easy gains are gone and I probably won’t test @ 300w…or have any improvement, for that matter. Looks like another outside ride in the sun today!
(or chasing the 12% vote and going for more doughnuts!!)
I’m a big fan of the ramp test. At university I did physics, and learnt a bit about radio telescopes. Stick with me!
The Lovell Telescope opened in 1957 and at the time was the biggest steerable radio telescope in the world.
Funny thing is, it’s still the third biggest as not long after they realised if they connect them up to a bunch of others they get a much better resolution. Nowadays astrophysicist build dozens in big arrays.
The ramp test is loads less taxing and is much easier to fit in with other training. I once did two with an hour between them and got the samw result. Might not be as accurate as doing a one hour test , but you can build up a much better picture ofnfitness and progression, and inprove your training without accidentally turn yourself into a 20 minute TT expert in the process.
Plus how many other cyclists do we know who avoid testing like the plague? I know guys that’ll do maybe two tests a year, tops. Madness!
I don’t have access to my “blood markers” – I like to keep my blood on the inside, thank you very much – but I have done both the Ramp and TTE tests within days of each other resulting in almost identical FTPs. Same ends, different means.
My last 3 tests were TTE and I probably give more practical value to that protocol, but mentally I just couldn’t do it this time around. That said, it did take me all morning to convince my reptilian brain that doing a ramp test was going to be a good time! Even then, I most likely stopped short, all I wanted to do was crack 300.
More interesting to me was comparing the training which developed this FTP to the training I did when I joined TR which developed the same FTP. With the TR plans I did 28 weeks of SSB, SPB, and VO2max. This year I did 14 weeks of “training” – 5wk Tempo, 3wk SS, 3wk Threshold, plus a bunch of random outside and a few VO2max. Same power gain in half the time and a longer TTE (as demonstrated via testing) than I did with the TR plans.
This lead me to plug mah numbers into Couzens crafty calculator:
I did 4 months of high volume Z2/low HR followed by 4 months of inactivity. So…
What I’m thinking is that the TR plans, even though they get me to the same place, are much more work than I actually require. Or more precisely, they are much more work of (perhaps) the wrong kind. I identify with many of Couzens’ ‘quick responder’ descriptors even though my natural fitness might be average, so I might benefit from more of a polarized model (I did feel great with all that Z2).
Structure of work and rest is another important point and one I might not be able to avoid once return to work happens. Currently I’m able to do whatever combo I want, once I’m bound by the work week I’ll have to submit to a different strategy which might not be as effective.
To conclude – I’m happy I followed the collective vote and did the ramp test.
Last year I took 4 months off and have a similar story. The TR SSB 1&2 plans work at increasing FTP over 12 weeks, I’ve used them for two seasons (2018 and 2019). Or I can do more hours/week with less SS work and more zone2 work, and both increase FTP and build a bigger aerobic base. Lets call that “more pyramidal” base plan. For me, the bigger aerobic base makes any work above FTP much easier and more productive than the base I receive from SSB MV. I’ve done the “more pyramidal” approach in 2017 and 2020.