Why do ramp tests need to start at such a low percentage of FTP?

The first 13 minutes or so a standard ramp test are so easy that I can’t imagine its really doing anything but thoroughly warming your legs up. I understand there’s a need to drain your anaerobic capacity, but I wonder if simply starting the ramp after a few minutes at FTP (after a few minutes at Z2 to warm the legs up) wouldn’t take care of that.

Perhaps some science is in order?

It’s warmup. Not everyone wants to do a 5 min warmup and jump straight to threshold and up

You could probably afford to knock the first three or so minutes off, though. I wonder if there’s a specific reason for starting at that particular % of FTP.

I don’t think you’ll find any science behind it. The start was arbitrary and the ladder is a certain % of ftp per minute. Once the test was setup, they studied the riders to extrapolate the ftp formula.

You could easily skip the first 13 minutes and see how it works out for you. Just remember to report back your findings!


It’s a uniform, repeatable warmup. You can do your own thing, but you have to make sure it’s exactly the same every time.

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I have little doubt you could design the first ten minutes any number of ways, you would just have to do the same extended testing period to figure out the formula from there. But what would be the point? The test takes less than half an hour as it is.

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I don’t know why, but I was reminded of this scene reading the topic…