Am I too good at Ramp Tests

background:
46 years old, mostly mountain biker, but does ride road, and gravel
Resting hr of @ 40bpm with a max of 190 bpm
Indoor trainer a tacx neo, no power meter as yet on mtbs, a stages on my road bike.

Started using TR a year ago, made the mistake of not using it over the summer (so ftp dropped) but have used it consistently since september.

Have mainly gone through Sweetspot base Low and mid volumes, and did move onto a v02 build mtb plan

Have ridden recreational on the mtb for over 10 years, and entered some mtb endurance events.
Ride around 6000 to 8000 miles a year across several bikes

Current ftp 255w or @ 3.5 w/kg with a 74kg weight

Can handle around 400 TSS a week, have done more but usually feel overtrained at that point.

Since September my ftp has risen in 2% and 4% jumps from sweetspot low to the mtb build

Problem:

I seem to be able to increase at every ramp test. Ive probably completed around 8 this year.

But,
I cannot complete the workouts, whether that be SS, threshold, over unders or v02 without VERY large amounts of time resting in the intervals, backpedaling etc.
Some hour long TR sessions last well past 1.5 hours!

I switched it up to the more v02plan build plan, as i thought that im a cross country MTB XC racer really and im better at the short climbs/sprints than steady sprints. This is sort of true as I can easily achieve the max efforts, but cannot repeat them over and over with such short resting intervals.

My last ramp test (as many users will say that my ftp is incorrect) I hit a new pb HR of 192 bpm was a few days ago.
I moved back to start sweetspot base 2 (as nate posted that the plans are improving (more rest time]) but this hasnt helped me.

I completed donner today 3x12 at ftp which after nearly killed me. During the intervals my HR was @ 165 bpm to 177 bpm on each set.

I feel like im working in too higher zone, or not getting the adaptions if im resting so long between sets.

Do any other Master/Veteran riders have this problem?

I keep re testing with the ramp and seem to increase everytime, so my ftp cannot be incorrect.

Im fuelled correctly and rested properly as im only doing the 3 workouts a week. I sleep between 7-10 hours and monitor HRV, and sleep data.
I take 200mg of caffeine to get through sessions and im well hydrated.
I have enough fans and im spinning in the inner chainring with a cadence of 90 to 100

Any suggestions would help.

I dread every TR session now as I know theyre so painful.
Im also used to long 3 to 5 hour mtb rides outside and have completed many 100 and 150 road mile events

I wish, just the opposite over here… How about you take the test, and I’ll do the workouts LOL

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This is odd tbh. Most people who “over test” on the Ramp Test can still complete the sweet spot sessions just fine, but fall apart on the threshold and VO2 work.

A few questions:

  • What’s your highest 20min HR from an XC race?
  • What level (out of 10) do the sweet spot intervals “feel” like? (e.g. 10 out of 10 “all out”)
  • Can you post a few examples of workouts you’ve done?

There are a few “mental calibration” style workouts that you can do to fine tune your FTP like Goethe

I’m similar, 42 yrs, FTP ??? (have a test tomorrow) 78kg, ride XCO and MTB 100s, Cat 2 racer. In 2018 it appeared that I had all the VO2 but couldn’t do the sustained efforts (aerobic). I dreaded any interval over 8 mins and preferred 3 min VO2. In races I could do all the punchy stuff but would fade due to my lack of sustained ability. I believe you, like me, lack muscle endurance.

I vowed this off season to work on my weakness and limiter, which was sustained long efforts, or repeatably of numerous short efforts (which become aerobic over time). I started Traditional Base in October (TB3 starts tomorrow) and then I’ll move onto Sustained Build. This is all my off season. After that I will do SSB, General Build, and Specialty headed towards my “A” race in mid September 2019.

In Traditional Base I confirmed that I hated and was not good at sustained intervals. Even in Traditional base with tempo intervals lasting 22+ minutes, it was more of a struggle than VO2 max efforts for me. In just 2 months though I can tell my muscle endurance is improving. I’d recommend working on muscle endurance.

image
some 20 minute indoor trainer session records

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some 20 minute outdoor HR records

Sweet spot intervals feel like 9/10 or 10/10 (even when i get off the bike for minutes or backpedal ) im close to quitting, this pain is in the legs and in my cardio

How do i post links to rides?

Thanks for your reply

Also, what is your cadence on those long outdoor climbs? I can’t maintain that high of a cadence for the duration of a long sweet spot ride indoors and my outdoor cadence definitely hangs more in the 80s on long climbs. If you feel like you’re blowing up cardiovascularly, maybe try lowering your cadence through them to the mid 80s and make your muscles do a bit more of the heavy lifting.

I can easily hit the v02 targets for 3 minutes, but i cannot repeat them with such short recovery intervals. Does that still equate to lack of muscle endurance?

Is age is very big factor here?

This was a full out xc mtb ride of over 90 minutes

Your HR is in range for sweet spot work, but if they feel like 9 or 10 then your FTP is definitely set too high.

The correction factor for TR’s Ramp Test is normally 75% of your highest 1 minute power from the test, but some people fall outside this range.

I’d recommend knocking your FTP down 10 or 15w and then seeing if you can complete the workouts.

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Do all the ramp tests come after a week of rest? I’d decided I was gonna test when NOT rested as I struggled to complete a lot of sessions.
I’ve ‘manually’ adjusted my FTP (down), and can just about complete the sessions. Prefer completing them than not. Once it doesn’t hurt to complete most of the sessions I’ll raise it 5 or so points. I’m 55 years old.

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my 1 minute power trecords, outside of the ramp tests (which i havent really attempted is over 426w) does that correlate?

No, it has to be from the ramp test to be useful in determining FTP

my last ramp test was after a week of rest (last week) and in 4 weeks Id increased my ftp by 4% doing 4 weeks of short power build low volume

I’m in year 2 of TR. I’m 54, and target 10 and 25 mile TTs, including rolling and hilly courses.

Last winter all my FTP tests were via the 20 minute TR test. I went from 242->252->262->270.

This winter I started a month ago and straight off the bat (with no racing or hard training for weeks) ramp tested to an FTP of 275W - go figure!!

I thought it was too high but persevered for a few workouts (EDIT: SSBLV1). It soon became apparent (via RPE & HR) that it was indeed set far too high. I’ve backed it down to 265 and based on key “breaking point” workouts like over-unders, it’s set perfectly for me now.

Like you I’ve been left thinking that I’m just too good at the ramp test relative to my overall ability/strength. The main thing is having the number set correctly for your plan. I intend adjusting it based on over-under RPE for the forseeable future, not based on repeating the ramp test.

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Nice to know there are others. I may knock my ftp back 10 pts or so

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Also, just to say, these workouts hurt so much. Both vo2 and sweetspot that it puts you off returning to trainer road to train.

So you start hating the training and don’t return. I’ve been on trainer road for over a year. And indoor training for 18 months.

Or makes you want to return to the cuddly xbox version of indoor training, that is zwift!

Why do we beat out our brains and body on the trainer and in races? The value in it is what you learn about yourself. Only in these situations all kinds of qualities come out, those that may not have been seen otherwise.

2 Likes

As others have noted, muscular endurance is the issue.

We had a very wet summer this year so there were many Sunday’s I couldn’t get out on the trails. Instead I started doing long 50 - 80 mile flat road rides on Sunday mornings. Because of the flat roads these were long, steady efforts with little rest from pedaling. Along with catching up on many podcasts, it really helped with my muscular endurance. Sweet spot workouts on the trainer felt much easier and I also did feel better on long mountain bike rides as well.

If getting outside for longer rides on the road isn’t an option, you may want to consider some similar rides on the trainer. Baxter is one of Nate’s favorites and a great ride for 90 min of more or less continuous effort.

:Follow up.

Ok, thx for all the info. I re ramp tested the other day and got another ftp increase, but instead, i knocked my ftp back from 255w to 235w @ 10%.

I can now finish v02 and sweetspot rides without backpedalling and taking rest breaks inbetween intervals.

I also keep my HR below 173 for sweetspot and below 186 for v02 (with a max hr of 192)

I feel like i want to do workouts again,and seem to recover faster (just a day between rides again) . I could probably move to mid volume plans again with this lower ftp.

It seems that a mountainbiker may be much better at ramp tests. And be much better at v02 (short bursts of power or climbs, than standard roadies). This 10% difference still makes my TR rides painful, but not ones that destroy my body and mind for a few days.

My muscle endurance is fine at the lower ftp, as I can easily do 100 mile road rides (in fact ive done several mtb rides of that distance) and i also enter 12 and 24 hour solo mtb events.

Hope this helps some fellow riders.

Now to try and convince my partner that lowering her ftp may help her too (she is also an endurance mtber) who has become disillusioned with the pain of TR as in another one of my posts

It will be interesting to hear how you respond to the Sweetspot workouts over the next few months. I have a hunch you are going to see a rise in your “FTP” and be able to do them at a progressively higher setting as your body starts to adapt to this kind of work. I also think you are going to notice a difference out on the trail as this happens where you feel stronger and faster deeper into rides.

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