Yet another ramp test thread - What's the risk of under-testing

My apologies if this has been discussed before, but if it was I’m unable to find or remember it.

I’m back to serious structured training for a while now. FTP is improving, a bit less than expected but still visibly improving. I’m currently about halfway through SSB2 LV, having modified SSB1 and 2 to a 3+1 recovery cycle to sync up with my marathon training plan. I target a half distance tri in August with a lot of climbing.

My recent prescribed ramp test gave me a 4% increase, leaving me disappointed. Since I messed with the plan progression the test did not follow a recovery week, I did another after the following planned recovery week and tested another 4% higher. In relative terms that is about what I expect based on past seasons. However in absolute terms I feel like my workouts are a bit too easy. For example, I did Taylor -2 the day after testing and easily overshot the prescribed intensity. Shortly after I did Donner, a workout I used to rank among the most unpleasant experiences I ever had on a bike, but this time it was alright. Not easy by any means, but not as soul crushing and terrifying as post-testing threshold intervals were on the 20 min protocol.

I don’t really mind owning my workouts and do not care about absolute numbers. I wonder though how much would be left on the table when I train with a FTP that’s “too low”. Anything to worry about? Should I modify my testing, maybe with a longer warm up or go back to 20 min? Am I now testing correctly and was overtesting in past seasons? Any ideas, tips and opinions are welcome, I just want to be fastest rider I can be with my limited time.


Better having an FTP that is too low and completing the workouts than FTP too high so you fail them or do everything too hard.

If it’s set low (much too low) you’ll become aware of it, especially if you complete 1 or 2 weeks and don’t ever get a sense of fatigue or difficulty in some of the sessions. If it all feels too easy, bump it up 10W and see how that feels.

You shouldn’t be burying yourself all the time, SS is uncomfortably comfortable, THR, towards the end of a workout should be challenging. VO2 can be hit and miss, some days, particularly when fresh can seem more straight forward, other days it’s like HELP!!

Hope that helps.

If it concerns you enough, do a new ramp test again when fresh. Two days later do the 2x8min test. Then two days later do the 20min test.

Then choose the ftp that you think is best for your workouts.

Anything apart from the above is just guess work.

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I think in the end, this comes back to not being religious about your FTP. It’s hard to be confident in your capabilities early on, but this is actually how you learn. Over the two years of training with TR, I only recently started understanding when to make adjustments for workout intensity. I modify workout intensity for short vo2max repeats because I just can’t do them at ramp test FTP, but I do threshold and SS workouts just fine. Long story short: if sweet spot workouts are uncomfortable at a level that you can sustain for a long time and threshold workouts are more uncomfortable at a level that you can still sustain throughout the workout, you’re good. If not, adjust. Vo2max workouts should be doable but the last interval of each set should feel f*cking hard. I routinely am not sure if I’ll make it through until the last set but I have settled on an intensity where I usually do.

The ramp test helps me track improvements and scale up the baseline from which I make these adjustments. But now I know how to do that. Obsessing over which test will get you the best results is counter productive. It’s what I did for the better part of two years, and it distracted me from learning to understand my own capabilities and power profile and fine-tune my own training. This takes time and you will get it wrong occasionally, but it’s called “endurance” for a reason. :slight_smile: The goal isn’t today’s workout. It’s the races in two years when I am better at race tactics and can compete closer to my own limits. Failing workouts in the process of optimization and occasionally doing some that are too easy is part of the process.

This is my approach at least.


:point_up:All of that, I agree. Be your own coach and adjust as needed.


@cyclhist gave great advice, read and re-read it. :slight_smile:

To add to that…

Let’s say your FTP is set too low, what are the implications of that with your training? Potentially:
High VO2 work becomes low VO2 work
Threshold workouts become sweet spot
Sweet spot becomes… and so on down the line.
Would you be leaving something on the table? Probably, especially if on limited training time.

If you’re blowing through the current workouts, nudge the intensity up a few % and see how that starts to feel. I might do this during the workout itself (rather than outright changing FTP, until you find a % that you settle on)… if the first interval of Donner was much too easy for you, you have the option to bring up the next a few % and see how you carry on.

Some advice based on personal experience:
Regarding Taylor -2 specifically, I too found that workout very easy to complete. I opted for the regular Taylor version rather than the -2 and got through no problem at all. I know you have Bluebell coming up, I swapped in Bluebell +2 on that without issue. I have a feeling you’ll feel the same.
After that, Jepson should be pretty difficult with the sprints. I’d say see how the first block goes and adjust up a couple % for the next if you feel it’s too easy. Sprinting and then coming down to threshold for a couple minutes, then sprinting again, is hard work.
You can then use the same insight on Darwin (and also base Darwin on how you felt from Donner). Mills will require focus to get through the last seconds of each VO2.

Glance back at your 2018 season (or prior years), and watch for signs that your FTP maybe was too high previously? Incomplete workouts, workouts you really suffered through but maybe they shouldn’t have been so bad, etc.