What's wrong with me? Am I a bad tester?

Hi all,

I finished up general build low-volume last week, had a recovery week so I was hoping to see a FTP bump today…ended up dropping from 275 to 272 watts :frowning:. To be honest I’m not surprised, I seem to progress very slowly and this isn’t the first time I’ve lost fitness despite sticking to the program. As background, I started cycling in May of 2018 but didn’t start training until May of 2019.

What really bothers me is that immediately after the ramp test, I ran through Tunnabora -1. I bumped up the intensity about 5% on average, then did over 9 minutes at 270 watts after the workout was over. RPE was about 6/10 overall and I could have done another 5 minutes at 270 without too much issue, I just had to end the workout to make lunch for my family.

So what does this all mean? Do I just suck at testing? Is my FTP 272 or should I bump it up? Really frustrated and I’m hoping to get this all resolved, thank you for your advice!

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Well remember FTP is supposed to be what you can sustain for an hour and Tunnabora isn’t a workout which will tell you that - however, some people are not good at the ramp test especially if they are not great at VO2 work…try Donner, Darwin, Eisenhower-2 or Gray@275W if you find it comfortable - push it up a couple of %…if they bury you leave it where it is.

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Thanks for the advice. That’s true, Tunnabora is on the low-end of sweet spot. I’ll give Darwin a go since I have experience with that one.

Another thing I forgot to mention, regarding the ram test, it felt like my legs gave out a lot earlier than I expected. Not sure if this is because the 3-minute VO2 workouts from a couple weeks ago did me in, maybe I didn’t recover well over the last week?

Those VO2 workouts from a couple of weeks ago did not do you in and impact your ramp test. You’ve just started riding - so, enjoy the journey. The likely reason you find your legs giving out earlier than expected (I’m speculating) has more to do with your head than your legs. It’s a relative new thing for you and I’d wager you’re still learning (as we all are) how to deal with discomfort on a bike. Ramp tests put us all into a large amount of discomfort.

I’m confident the vast majority of people’s disappointment in their ramp tests have far more to do with their psychology than their physiology.

Keep at it :slight_smile:

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  • It implies that you did not give everything you had in the Ramp test, IMHO.

Tunnabora is a reasonable workout at 0.8IF for 60 minutes.

  • On it’s own, it should be very attainable and not a huge demand on most riders.
  • Done immediately after a Ramp test should be a real challenge, IMHO.

All this seems to me that you are bailing out early rather than pushing to true failure. They covered it on the cast, and trying to keep your mind it the test is as much of a challenge as physically.

You may just be “a bad tester”. Or you may be one of those people that doesn’t get the best results from the ramp test. There are many threads and comments discussing the variation in results for people from the ramp.

If you continue into more workouts, look at the IF, duration and notes before your next workout. Really understand what that workout is and how it should feel. Roll into it with your current FTP, and evaluate after the first or second part of the workout. If it’s too easy compared to the research, bump up your workout intensity 2-3% and reevaluate. Do this through the rest of the workout as needed.

Upon completion, consider the adjustments you made and maybe split the difference you made, and apply that percentage to your FTP and try again in the next workout. You may learn that you under-test and need to add X% to the FTP as reported.

But I do think you need to evaluate how spent you really are at the conclusion of the ramp. You need to go DEEEEEP for it to be “right”.


I’m confident the vast majority of people’s disappointment in their ramp tests have far more to do with their psychology than their physiology.

Thanks for the reply!

I feel like I’ve done a fair number of ramp tests already (at least 6 or 7) to have a good feel for them. That being said I did have a lot of anxiety going into the test. This was also the first time I had the real-time FTP on the screen which I think may have thrown me for a loop.

I’m in a similar situation to you (FTP currently 250) that when I finished my recent LV plans and then tested I didn’t seem to have made as much progress (ie jump in FTP) as I was hoping.

I am trying to put it down to me being a bad tester. I think I give up much too easily. I’m sure if a masked gunman burst in just as I was about to quit I would manage to complete another step, but until Nate incorporates that into TrainerRoad, I look back and wonder if I could have gone a bit better.

Maybe it’s my mental state that I know how hard I need to go to get an improvement, and if I was successful, how much harder the subsequent rides would be, but I’d still like a big number :slight_smile:

Maybe in the current situation of pandemic, I’m actually better off not pushing myself really hard and going too deep and then leaving myself a bit too susceptible to catching the virus (and potentially a less depleted me would have been able to withstand it a bit more easily?)

I am interested to see how I test with the FTP being calculated onscreen. I think someone said that you have to ride for 21 minutes to get an improved score, and I just don’t seem to last that long…maybe having that carrot dangling in front of me will help…

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It’s similar for me. I eventually stopped testing because of that and now only go by feel. Hasn’t failed me yet.

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I think what we generally forget is that a ramp test is just a picture of where your fitness is at that point in time.

could be accumulated fatigue, poor nutrition, dehydration, lack of sleep, stress, and so on. I wouldn’t ascribe it to your testing or fitness abilities based off the one test. If it’s a consistent thing there might be something behind it.


I find that if I stress over my ftp test too much I never hit it just right because mentally I am close to done when I start. I over think it, am a bit anxious and just set myself up for failure of sorts.

Now that said it is possible (very possible) that you may not have been adequately recovered from previous hard sessions when you tested and that happens

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Don’t get hung up over 3 watts as chances are you tested exactly the same as last time and you haven’t gain or lost any fitness.

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Thanks Chad. As far as my heart is concerned, I probably could’ve lasted a little longer. I normally drop out at about 179-181 BPM, but this time I stopped at 176 BPM. But I am absolutely certain that my legs could not go on, I pushed it to the absolute max and my legs simply would not turn over.

I have been strength training but I specifically moved my session to Thursday so I could get a 3 days to recover before the ramp test. Maybe it wasn’t enough time?

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No idea. But the fact that you proceeded to hit that SS workout on the tail of the Ramp just seems odd to me.

I often have trouble rolling 45 minutes of Carter, which is my usual workout right after the Ramp. That is dead easy in comparison to Tunnabora, which you did and kicked up intensity. I’m no expert, but that seems to point to an issue of some sort.


275 vs 272 is a wash, inconclusive. I’m a volume responder, and wouldn’t expect much from any low-volume plans. Volume, consistency, and some intensity are the keys for my own fitness improvements. Have you experimented enough to know what makes you tick?


275 vs 272 is a wash, inconclusive. I’m a volume responder, and wouldn’t expect much from any low-volume plans. Volume, consistency, and some intensity are the keys for my own fitness improvements. Have you experimented enough to know what makes you tick?

To be honest I thought I would respond well to VO2max workouts, then I experienced Mathes +1 and Kaiser +2 :face_vomiting:. Then I thought “OK, my body must like sustained efforts more”…and then I hit Kaweah +1 and Galena +2 :face_vomiting: :face_vomiting:.

Also, when I run the LV plans I am adding in additional sweet spot and endurance workouts and usually end the week with 6-7 hours on the trainer.

First of all 272 or 275 is completely insignificant change, it is a power meter error range. Second - I cannot imagine doing Tunnabora -1 just after ramp test, so you could definitely go deeper. Keep old FTP and keep going.

If any of these workouts become easy - it a sign that your FTP is definitely off - these are simply very hard workouts, and they are never become easier, only watts increase :slight_smile: the sustained power workouts are (in my opinion) easier to work on - simply ride more near threshold for a longer time. VO2 max should always be hard to see any improvements.



The LV plans have 3 days of intensity and you are adding more intensity with another sweet spot? Ever consider you are doing too much intensity in a week? I’m seeing nice steady gains with 2 or 3 days of intensity, and the rest endurance and maybe lower tempo for 8-11 hours/week during loading weeks. Change things up and try less intensity?


Why not try a 20 minute FTP test when you are fresh. Firstly it is a good workout and it may confirm the same numbers you have currently. Secondly it should be easier to push for longer as you will not be going as deep.
I give up a bit too easily on the ramp test whereas. I can always complete the 20 minute version.

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I am currently doing the same- 3x intensity and longer Z2. 4 workouts/week with TSS in level with MV. I definitely could add another Z2. This kind of volume (upped from LV) improved A LOT (in terms of FTP and stamina).

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Agree this this. After a Ramp Test Taku is about all I can bring myself to back up with.