When the Ramp Test doesn't track well to FTP

It’s my belief that it takes years of work and dedication to be able to work out to muscle failure instead of mental failure, at least in the case of longer efforts. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but just that perhaps ‘giving up’ has a negative connotation when I think you require great mental strength to reach muscle failure.

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Right. Ultimately I feel for most cases, it is a combination of physical and mental. Our training history and personal mental strength mix and allow us to deal with a certain amount of discomfort.

I’m not saying we hit ultimate failure on a muscular or cellular level, but we hit a blend of physical discomfort and mental strain that we can’t handle any longer. That exhaustion is real no matter what the mix between them.

I just think the connotation of “giving up” is more of a choice to quit in this context vs pushing until you can’t push any more. Like I said, split hairs.

IMHO, “giving up” is not the correct description. It is a test to “exhaustion”.

That’s a bit hard to quantify… I’m curious if going by a certain minimal cadence would be better, ie. stop if you can’t hold anything higher than 60 RPM but again that’s probably really personal

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That’s pretty much right for me. If I drop about 15 rpm, I’m usually toast and have nothing left.

I have ground down to 70 rpm once or twice, but my power was already falling enough that I had passed the peak by that time.

So I’m usually done around 80-85 anymore, but I don’t watch it and act on the number. It just happens and that’s what I see in the ride afterwards.

I have ground down to 70 rpm once or twice, but my power was already falling enough that I had passed the peak by that time.

I use ERG mode for the ramp test and this might throw a wrench into things since you can only keep going or stop (theoretically you would think this would be an ideal application for ERG mode). Unfortunately I wasn’t using powermatch the last time I did this so I can’t check what cadence I ended at but I basically went as long as my legs could physically put anything out at all and cadence was at an absolute crawl, maybe even reaching lower than 40 RPM. It’s hard to say if mentally setting a hard limit using cadence as an indicator would have had the opposite effect of undershooting the actual FTP but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in the ballpark… something I’ll keep an eye on next time I do a “no quit at any cost” effort on the test

This is a crucial topic! Over time I feel like I’ve read and participated in at least a dozen similar threads between the FB group and now here. Seems like many people are often repeating similar versions of these 3 about the Ramp Test:

  1. It’s pretty close for me
  2. It over-estimates my true FTP. I’m good at VO2 max efforts in general, but I can’t complete long threshold intervals at this FTP from the Ramp.
  3. It under-estimates my FTP. I’m better at steady state and struggle with VO2. At this FTP from Ramp I AM now able to get through VO2 intervals, but worry that I’m not working hard enough during Sweet Spot or threshold intervals.

Like @John_Barclay I’m firmly a Type 3. Before the Ramp Test I usually used the 20. Sweet Spot and threshold were work, but totally doable. Over/unders were really hard, but usually doable. VO2 Max though I routinely had to decrease intensity to complete - which, according to Coach @chad workout instrux is fairly normal.

Now, with Ramp FTP, I can do those VO2 intervals at 100% so worry that my other zones are too easy.

How does one know which is right? I mean - I like the simplicity and speed of the Ramp Test so want to continue using it, but don’t want to sacrifice training gains.

Personally, I may try a manually higher multiplier for a while - maybe .77x instead of .75.

It’d be great if Coach @chad weighed in on this. Or with a blog post like “Ramp Test, different rider types and evaluating your zones.”


I am a number 3 as well. In fact I resorted to the original way of determining FTP ( x .77) that the beta test used as it seems closer to where I am. I’m trying to figure out how to test as I will be starting my training soon for next year’s TT season, not sure the ramp test is for me, my current thinking after doing a fair bit of reading is biting the bullet and doing longer testing, 30mins or even an hour (25mile TT will do when the season starts) At least this way I’ll get my threshold heart rate as well which is useful for tracking aerobic trends.

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If you want to validate which “type” of tester you are, a simple way is to perform an alternative FTP test, and see how they compare. Keep in mind, this will depend a lot on the protocol that you choose to use. I would lean toward one of the longer tests. I like the new long form tests from the “Physiology of FTP” blogpost on Training Peaks.

If your long form FTP test is higher, you know that short term power is a limiter. If the opposite is true, you know that your aerobic endurance is a limiter, and you were relying a bit too heavily on your anaerobic capacity during the ramp test. And if they’re both quite close, then you know it was pretty accurate.

Alternatively, you can simply go out and do a couple workouts. Do a hard threshold workout, and see if it’s sustainable. Do a VO2 max workout. For validation, I’d do the 3min at 120% intervals, because I find them hardest.

If you can complete both, you’re FTP is definitely not too high. If you felt like you could go harder on one, but felt super close to your limit on the other, you’ve identified your current strength. And if you failed one, but not the other, you’ve identified a weakness. And if both felt too easy, your FTP is too low, and you should raise it up a little.


@roflsocks makes some good suggestions here. In addition it is important to remember that, as @chad mentioned on numerous podcasts, is that testing is simply to anchor the training. It is going to be influenced by many things and may need adjusting as you pursue your training.

Whichever method you use, it may not be indicative of what you can do. For example, using an 8 min test for your ftp may not mean you could do that suggested ftp for forty minutes or an hour. You might b able to, but you might not be able to as well. Same with any other test.

The further you get away from a forty or sixty minute test the less likely it is to predict a forty or sixty minute capability. BUT it does serve as a good starting point to anchor your training. The ramp test is meant to be a good “catch all” and much less stressful and “easier to perform” if pacing is an issue. For most it will come close and then we can adjust from there.

For those using power match and having issues: I assume you are using power match so that you can use that power outdoors as well? If that is the case, try erg mode without the power match and record the power from both separately and compare on the test. Use the power from the non trainer power to guide what you may do outdoors and use the power from the trainer to guide the power you use on the trainer with the trainer road workouts. A little more time consuming if you’re mixing your rides during blocks of training but if most of your workouts are on the trainer (which will make you faster anyway😜) then it really doesn’t matter what the other power meter is registering.

My KICKR and powertap p1 are within a couple of watts at any time (four watts on average around 300watts) so I typically don’t worry about it much but do keep an eye that they aren’t off too much. The usual place where they can differ is when high power in a sprint is being used. The pedals will record higher than the KICKR. Same if I am using my stages.

With averages being used from test and potential inaccuracies of different power meters it’s important to remember that they are simply that, AVERAGES. Anyone or anything outside of “average” will have a bit of adjusting to do. As for the power meters, as long as it’s consistent, the relative accuracy doesn’t matter, unless you’re trying to then carry that to your outdoor training. IF that is the case and you have the luxury of having a power meter aside from your trainer, just compare and contrast and use those numbers instead of trying to worry about how power match may not adjust quickly enough. :wink:

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This is the crux and where I question your premise. This seems to be saying it’s symmetrical - that whether your FTP setting means you can complete threshold but not VO2 at 120%, or that you can complete VO2 at 120% but not threshold, your FTP setting is “right” in both cases and just points out one relative weakness or the other.

But I think I’ve learned the opposite from 1. Years of TrainerRoad use, listening to Coach @chad and others AND 2. The fact that the TR workout instructions for VO2 max workouts almost always talking about adjusting intensity to suit your individual capabilities (but threshold workouts never talk about that). The implication is that your FTP setting should get your threshold level “right” foremost, and you should adjust your VO2 targets as needed (either up or down) to suit your capabilities.


I think what I was trying to get at, was that because the ramp test requires anaerobic capacity to be around the median, riders who are on either extreme will over or under estimate FTP. There are some riders who are simply very strong at VO2 max efforts. They could perhaps complete workouts with 125% intervals, and would be sufficiently challenged at 100% threshold efforts. If that same user had their FTP set high, because they over-reported on the ramp test, they may drop their VO2 efforts to 120%, and threshold may not be sustainable.

And I would argue in that case, if threshold isn’t sustainable, FTP is too high. It doesn’t have to be sustainable for an hour, but you should probably be able to do 30+ minutes at FTP even with poor muscular endurance, or else your FTP is probably over-estimated.

For the most part though, this was supposed to be about figuring out whether or not someone’s score on the ramp test accurately matched FTP. If they get a result that’s close but a bit off, that person can learn if they’re the type who needs to bump up a few watts, or to drop down a few.

I’m not sure how well I described my thoughts on that. I hope it came across clearly. I do completely agree with your last sentence, that it’s important to get FTP set right, and that we should be looking to adjust our “target” VO2 max power based on knowledge about our own power profile.

This is EXACTLY what happens to me. The ramp test uses my cardio way too much. Very timely article,

Yes, ultimately, ftp produces results, but HR matters in training.


Same for me. I did the workouts with an ftp of 276W which was higher than any result of my ftp tests. After vacation I adjusted my ftp to 268 so that I could barely finish the workouts. Then I did the ramptest and ended up with 279 W. I would have never been able at that point to finish any workout with that ftp.
I will do a ramptest tomorrow and then begin sweetspot base. I think I will reduce the result by 5% for the workouts.

For me the ramp test does not work at all. This season I’ve focused a lot on repeatibiltiy of threshold efforts. And ignored the high end stuff a little bit. With the result that by best 5 min effort, e.g. CP5, dropped from 430 W last year to 380-390 this year. You lose the high end quickly.

The ramp test put me somewhere in the tempo zone. A wattage that I can keep for 2-3 hours outside. I must add I race mainly long endurance events. And train a lot, I’d say my diesel is running quite well.

The ramp test may work for people with more balanced capabilities. HOwever, how are you supposed to know if you’re balanced or not. More testing.

For me the most “comfortable” testing approach is to do threshold intervals - for example 4x15min - and take the last interval wattage as my FTP. Matches quite nicely 0.95 x CP20. Or at least similar.


Maybe it’s just me but I feel like I’m too inexperienced to know what kind of power I can sustain in vo2max intervals. I always err on the side of caution and rarely up the intensity on those workouts because I end up thinking that failing them is worse than slightly underperforming. It’s not like I can breathe easily or they don’t hurt like hell for the last minute so maybe they just track well with my ftp.

It’s never a failure…it’s an opportunity to reassess your current abilities and set future goals :wink:

Once you have an FTP you are comfortable with, try Huffaker. Use the first set to see what feels barely doable and then do the second set at that wattage.

Whatever you can complete the second set at will be a good approximation of what to do VO2 work at going forward.


I am a #2. Both the ramp test and a 20 min test overestimate my FTP because I am “good” at anaerobic shorter efforts. I found that if I did a 5 min CP test and then easy spin for 10 minutes before the 20 min FTP test, I got a more realistic number that made finishing longer interval workouts achievable. In September, I did a 60 min power test using and got a number that was higher than my previous FTP, but still puts interval workloads in the manageable range.

Just to make sure I understand, if I fail the third interval, I just do all of the second set at the second interval’s wattage instead of doing the ramp? Would you then always just use that wattage regardless ramps in all vo2max intervals going forward? (And how do you assess what to do 2min intervals at)?

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If you fail the third interval, you know that if you have a workout where the power is at 120%, you’ll prob want to bump the workout intensity down slightly.

I don’t find there to be a huge difference between 2 and 3 minute intervals, since the work to rest ratio is usually 1:1. What you’ll find as the plan progresses is that you’ll have more repeats with less extended rest.