Disappointing Ramp Test

ramp-test

#1

So I just completed the ramp test coming off the end of SSB 1 at Medium. Prior to that I did SSB 1 and 2 at Low Volume. Thru these 3 blocks I haven’t really seen any significant improvements in FTP. But I am feeling a lot stronger on the trail.

It occurs to me that the crux of the Ramp Test…the power level where the numbers are generated… occurs at a level that the SSB blocks do not train at all. It occurs to me that perhaps the Ramp Test is a poor measure of improvements gained during base training.

I’m thinking about resting for a few hours and trying the 20 minute test this evening. Has anybody ever run this experiment?


FTP Ramp Test - Too Hot, Too Cold or Just Right?
#2

You are not alone. Lots of reading here.

Personally the few times I’ve done the Ramp test it’s predicted a lower FTP for me than the 8 minute test. I haven’t done similar with the 20 minute test but I imagine it would be similar, or for me potentially give a slightly higher result again. Both your personal physiology and what training you’ve been doing will inevitably influence any test results.


#3

Just raise your ftp until you almost fail the over-under workouts.


#4

This is common and I wouldn’t bother doing another FTP or switching to a 20 min test. You’re building and have been building muscle endurancene (Base) not VO2 which the ramp is more relied upon. Your FTP may not have tested well but I bet your ability to hold your FTP or percentages of your FTP has risen.

Keep up the good work and if workouts began to feel easier than they should manually adjust your FTP 5-10 watts or increase the intensity in the workouts.


#5

Sweet spot base is not a build phase. It’s primary goal is not raising your ftp. You are fitter and more ready for the gains that will come in a build phase. Don’t worry.


#6

Last year was my first year on TR although I have used many programs in the past so I have a good feel for my FTP at any point in time. I started SSB HVI at an estimated 265W. When I finished SSB HVII I tested at 275 to 280W both on the 20 min test and the ramp test (Xert also gave a similar number) . Not much of an improvement even though I followed the plan to the letter, never missed a WO or a single interval within a WO. Then I basically took my riding outdoors without a plan, just rode hard in group rides and solo. I felt really strong and rode strongly amongst the group relative to past years. I likely lifted my FTP from this point but didn’t test again. I think I felt too strong for my own good, because I was riding too hard too often and burned out by mid-July. So the base work seemed to work for me, I just didn’t manage it properly once I got outside.

I plan on following the same plan this year but managing my outdoor riding better.

I wouldn’t worry too much about the testing either. I must have failed the ramp test 3 or 4 times last year because I wasn’t into it mentally. I already had a good feel for my FTP and realized that going a few watts higher on the test wasn’t going to make a difference to my training.


#7

You have done 3 blocks of base, you won’t see much FTP improvement, maybe 2-5% in the base blocks, you will see it in the build programs. Start a build program with your current FTP and you will retest in 4 weeks, I bet you will see improvement then.


#8

This. Maybe it is blasphemous, but I feel like at this point (having used TR for 2+ years), I have a sense of when my FTP has improved and I just dial it up incrementally and take note if the workouts the next week are doable. Given perceived rate of suffering (call it what it is :), where I am in recovery, sleep, etc., FTP tests’ value, IMO, are for setting new bars (first timer, returner, new season) and for getting data to inform my decision of where I am.


#10

Isn’t this the point?


#11

I don’t think anyone would recommend doing this, there is nothing to be gained doing that. I understand that your AM ramp test you underperformed, but that is to be expected considering the circumstances. Just do the pm Ramp test. The only exception would be if you do ALL of your works in the early AM, then I suppose you should assess in the AM as well.


#12

Although I understand the logic behind I don’t think it’s necessary. I did my ramp test in the evening but do 2/3 of my workouts in the morning and the FTP feels adequate.

But I don’t think I would be able to hit the same ramp test scores in the morning as I would in the evening.

The ramp test / FTP tests are great indicators but I think should they shouldn’t be regarded as something holy in a plan.
If the workouts are too easy, up the intensity/FTP, are they too hard and everything else is normal (sleep, eating pattern and general health) lower it.


#13

In March 2018 I did the Ramp Test (Ramp Test X as was) and 20 Minute Test one day apart, the results differed by 1 watt.

I think it’s healthier, psychologically, to accept the number and move on. You get to test again soon! Better to be HUNGRY for that next test, to smash it in the face, than dreading it because in your heart of hearts you know you cooked the books on your last FTP. The latter is all the more likely if you manually crank up your FTP now. Accept the test result, train accordingly and be at peace. Once you start fiddling with your FTP on feel, rather than on objective test data, it will be hard to go back. By doing this you take on a terrible responsibility, given how passionate we are about our sport and how much of our self-esteem and identity is grounded in our performance and participation. I’m sure some riders are ready for this responsibility but I wouldn’t be in a hurry to join them (I’m not). You take responsibility for following the plan and let TrainerRoad take responsibility for your FTP estimate as long as you can, that’s what you pay them for.

The worst case scenario is that you over-estimate your FTP, grind it out through your next plan (I don’t think you said what plan you have in mind), just about surviving the OUs, perhaps turning them down telling yourself you’re on a bad day, then make yourself ill, over-tired or really demotivated. That is not how you want to approach your next test.

My other observation is that at a glance (I haven’t done it) SSB 1 Mid Vol looks to have less intensity (albeit more volume obviously) than SSB 2 Low Vol. SSB 2 LV (I have done it, this year and last) is HARD. By the time you hit week 3 you are doing Tuesday VO2, Thursday Threshold, Saturday Over Unders. That format is repeated for four weeks until the recovery week, which is a longer ‘loading’ period than any of the build plans (three weeks, always) and that’s after week 1 and 2’s Sweetspot/Threshold workouts. By cutting from SSB 2 LV across to SSB 1 MV perhaps you have taken your foot off the gas in terms of intensity? Perhaps not the best approach if raising that FTP number is your priority? After all that’s not the intended plan sequence. But as others have said you’ve been broadening your base, durability, whatever you want to call it. Feeling a lot stronger on the trail sounds good!

If you want your FTP number to go up, you’ve already completed 18 weeks of base, cut across to one of the build plans. You could even go back to LV, spend an extra day or two with your feet up, or fill those gaps in outdoors or recovery week TR workouts. Good luck in any case!


#14

One more thing - I have done the Ramp Test seven times since the beta, I now think there IS a pacing issue if you are not on a smart trainer (I use the Elite Quick Motion Rollers). This is to make sure you don’t kick the power up too hard as you make it up each of the earlier steps (kick, settle down, kick, settle down etc.) I think this is wasted power, because the test protocol looks for the best continuous minute (I think) which is going to be right at the end. The protocol isn’t going to see each little surge, but you are going to feel them by the end. Better to work up to the next step gradually over ten seconds or so. (The same as with VO2 repeats; if you go too hard finding target power, the initial kicks don’t feel like anything at the time but they will have taken it out of you by the end of the workout.)

So in my case I do think I have got slightly ‘better’ at performing the test over time but that’s probably not worth more than a couple of watts. (Who doesn’t want a couple of watts though!?) And not an issue at all for anyone with a smart trainer (I imagine, I haven’t used one).


#15

My FTP tests give me a number that l always end up finding too low. I know this has probably been talked about before, but I’m wondering if it is OK to ignore (well, not ignore, but put to one side) that number and either increase the intensity in each workout, or put in a FTP figure that i know is more in line with what i can tolerate during workouts. For example, Galena feels ‘right’ at an FTP number that is 15w higher than my test gives me. By ‘right’ I mean ‘in line’ with my RPE for Sweet Spot.
Does this make sense?


#16

I was disappointed yesterday. I got through ssblv2 and even completed the full version of Mary Austin without a backpedal. Ftp only went from 211 to 214. I made it 215 to make myself feel better, but that was not what I was hoping for.

I think there are a few things I wish I had done differently, but my legs really hurt today so I think it may be right. O, well. I guess I will test again after surgery/holiday break and get worse news. I feel like Eeyore today.

Really hope I see a change after build, or I will need to target weight loss to meet my goal. My wife doesn’t like me too skinny so that may be an issue.


#17

Galena is an inappropriate workout to gauge your ftp. Use the harder under-over workouts instead - if those feel easy, bump it up.


#18

Correct, Larmarck is considered a better FTP verification. There are others, but this one is mentioned by TR folks.


#19

iirc the Lamarck workout text even suggests that you can up FTP based upon it if you can overshoot the target watts.


#20

I had a similar result with the SSB mid-volume 2 plan–a 2 watt gain. A couple of things that I think could explain this in my case. 1) I repeated the SSB-MV2, and probably just ran out of room to see a meaningful expansion of my FTP from that type of training. 2) I was cutting weight during my base building, which will always make a challenge to build power.

I then started into the sustained power build plan, and had fits and starts as I battled illness for the about a month–head cold into a sinus infection, with probably too much eagerness to get back into training. After the past two weeks being challenging to get back on the bike, and having struggled with a couple of VO2max workouts in the midst of coming off antibiotics, I decided to do another Ramp Test and just accept the results. I was stunned when my FTP actually went up by 11 points versus going down by that amount–going down 4-5% is what I expected.

I have two hypotheses for this: 1) I was rested and recovered from illness and the modest amount of work that I was able to do over the past month (about 2 to 3 workouts a week) allowed my fitness gains to finally be expressed, or 2) some significant gains can be made very early on, once VO2max workouts are introduced. Or, possibly some combination of those two and a poor test last time. I’ll see how this week goes and see if it sticks…


#21

I’m normally the one advocating trusting the test, but had a disappointing result last night at the end of the first block of Sustained Power Build. This followed on from just maintaining the previous test off the back of SSBII.

Looking back on the calendar, through both blocks I ended up subbing the Tuesday VO2 Max for commutes most weeks (work and family committments meant it was commute or not ride). I haven’t had any trouble with the threshold or over-unders through both plans, which I have generally managed to get done. So my (over) thinking is that no wonder I’ve had a poor ramp test when I haven’t been training very much in the VO2 Max zone.

My current thinking is to stick with the previous FTP, and reduce intensity for the VO2 max workouts (if needed). I’ve also swapped out the sustained power VO2 max workouts for the SSBII workouts I skipped, and in the same order.

My “A” event is the Liege Bastogne Liege sportive, at least for this block of the season. So I’m doing sustained power build into Century speciality. I don’t think I’ll be road racing this year, so apart from the fitness gains from VO2 max sessions, it’s probably not a zone I’ll be using in that or the Audax I have planned as the “B” events.

fwiw I want to try Cross in the Autumn so the reboot in May is calendar’d as SSBII --> Short Power Build --> Cross Speciality bringing me to September.