Disappointing Ramp Test

ramp-test

#22

@Macy, I think you are right on the money with your self-analysis.


#23

There’s obviously a number of things at play here.
Firstly, and this is the case with any specific testing method, you are always going to have issues if you essentially test a single metric and then use that to scale performance for a number of different metrics. The ramp test obviously works reasonably well for the majority, but for a significant minority (going by the repeated discussions here) it just doesn’t reflect their ability for specific workout types.
Some people - due to factors like genetics, environmental issues, training history, mental approach - will be suited to performing around their genuine FTP / lactate threshold but their ‘other levels’ such as VO2 max, will not fall within the 120% of threshold levels. For them, this may mean that they are forced to bail out of the ramp test before the standard formula gets to their optimum FTP. Others may be great at performing at super high percentages of their actual FTP, so the ramp test would actually overstate their ‘FTP level’ for doing longer threshold intervals.
Apps like sufferfest try to get round this by testing multiple aspects of performance and scaling based on all of these, but I’m not really sure how much more effective this really is (especially as it massively increases the complexity of the testing procedure and therefore the likelihood that someone will not perform the test to their absolute best. From the data that TR collected, it seems like the ramp test really does work well enough for the majority it they get the test right.

You improve at performing a test procedure the more you do it. I don’t necessarily mean that you get a higher FTP result, but the more practised you are at a specific procedure the more likely you are to achieve your optimal result each time you take it. I’ve certainly got better at the ramp test the more I’ve done it.

For those thinking that the ramp test underestimates your FTP, before assuming that you are one of the outliers in terms of performance ranges you should obviously first look at your performance in the test. Did you really go as hard as possible right at the end. Were you at your max heart rate at the point of failure? Could you have managed an extra few seconds? Did you mentally check out at any point? I know it will seem silly, but next time try to do the test with someone there to shout encouragement at you. See if having someone screaming at you (especially someone that you really don’t want to disappoint) not to fail gets an extra 10 seconds from you.


#24

This is the first time (since initial beta testing) I haven’t felt the ramp is reflective.

It was enough of a drop that would’ve turned the over and unders I was able to complete before the (albeit brought forward due to a head cold) recovery week into all unders. That was Fang Mountain +1, and I also did Kaweah the day after a 100km plus outdoor ride without any more than expected difficulty in my last “on” week.

Legs gave up before lungs, max heart rate wasn’t that close to my max heart rate either. I feel I’ve still a mild virus bubbling under and Sunday night sleep is never that great (given it was a Monday evening test), which I’m sure were factors. The only other thing I can think of is that I’m overdue a leg workover by my physio.


#25

It wasn’t until today I realised that I’d skipped so many VO2 Max workouts - I’ll have to continue to sub out workouts, but will have to think about mixing it up a bit more now.


#26

I agree. It makes sense to review on the go and try to keep a wide perspective at the same time. Not easy.

I have been doing a variety of adjustments, sometimes just hours before my workout, and I think they are positive changes. I am shifting to deal with outside appointments and such, as well as planned effort.

Keeping a mix makes good sense in general. But I would also consider focusing on the weak points if you know you have them, and ditch the less important ones.


#27

This is why I like using a HR monitor. If I don’t get up to 95-96% of my max HR during the ramp test I know I probably had more in the tank and I just wasn’t mentally in the zone.


#28

I don’t normally bother for any other workouts, and put it on specifically for the test.


#29

Or, I guess, there were other physical issues such as fatigue, injury or illness that inhibited your performance.
I think most people probably fail mentally before their physical limit, but it’s important to take account of non-mental factors as well otherwise you could just end up beating yourself up for a less than perfect ride that you couldn’t really have done better at that time


#30

Just had this, could have given it more and ended up getting only a 2 Watts rise when I am a lot fitter than I was. Not sure whether to do another this week of just raise it up manually


#31

Totally agree. Once you’ve done TR plans a few times, you kinda know what your FTP is and can adjust your workouts accordingly. But its good to check once in awhile…


#32

Absolutely do not due another ramp test, it’s just a test, not a magical indicator of your true and absolute FTP. Sometimes it’s spot on and others it’s a bit off. If you know your fitter based on your workouts and RPE, raise your FTP by 2-5%. You’ll know after a week of workouts if it’s too high/low.


#33

I had my first real disappointing ramp test tonight, no change, but I also know I didn’t recover correctly. Last week was suppose to be an easy week on TR but I had two hard races on Saturday then went out on Sunday and pushed harder than I should have. But hey, weather was nice for a change so took advantage of it. I have been averaging a 4-7% bump during testing over the last 18 weeks and I knew my legs were tired tonight. I increased my FTP 2% and will see how it goes, if I can complete my first week of training with the increase I will leave it. If not then I might go back to the previous number. Anyway not really looking for advice just sharing the experience with the forum. As others have said the Ramp Test is a good judge of fitness but not the say all be all.


#34

For what its worth, I did Taylor -2 from my revised plan (SSBII VO2/ everything else SPB) at my old FTP last night, and completed it fine/ at expected RPE at the old FTP.


#35

Just finished SSBII mid vol and did a ramp test. My result -2W from last FTP from 230 to 228. I didn’t skip single workout but had to decrease intensity in 3 of them in order to complete. I used updated SSBII plan but still felt like it is way to challenging for base training.

I’m not disappointed (maybe just a bit) because I can feel the improvements. I nearly died in early IF 0.86 workouts and by the end of this plan I was able to do IF 0.91 Lamarck which confirmed my current FTP.

As I see it now I’m better in power zones 3 and 4 but not great at VO2max. Hopefully I’ll get overall improvements after General Build. I’ll post my results here in a month after firs part of the build.


#36

I’m in the same boat as Macy (and many of you, it appears). I felt the ramp test has been accurate to date but last night totally “failed” it - my legs were seizing up about 90 seconds earlier than they should have been (at the 21~ minute or “break even” point). Mentally, I clearly wasn’t in the right space to push through it either.

I’m 1/2 way through my General Build plan and after looking back through the calendar, I also noticed it’s been quite a while since doing a proper VO2 Max workout. I definitely feel stronger and doing a gravel race over the weekend probably didn’t help, so I’m keeping my FTP the same and will adjust as it goes.

Thinking of switching back to the 8 min or 20 minute tests! Then again… even if the ramp test is demoralizing, it really is quite short!


#37

A few points here:

  1. The “break even” point is actually 19:30 in the test.

    • That means if you have a steady test, the 1-minute best power at that point in the test, will give you the same FTP as the setting at the start of the test.
  2. I think people going into these test with expectations of particular power and/or time to completion/failure are leading to bad/unexpected results.

    • This can be under-testing (via failure when seeing a particular time/power/heart rate) and making a poor assumption that you are “done”, when you might have more in there if you don’t let your head and expectations sabotage it.
    • Or it can be unrealistic expectations that we will always see gains in this test, regardless of the specifics of the recent training, work & life stress, adherence & compliance to the recent training, rest & diet leading in to the test, and other influences.
  3. Testing should be given the same respect and preparation as a race, IMHO.

    • We should plan our nutrition and mental state in much the same way as our events & races. If we go in too lax and not expecting to hurt and give it our all, we do a disservice to the test process, and ultimately our own results from them.

This leads back to my recent preaching that I think more people should be testing “blind”, with no input of power, heart rate or time. It is easy to do for ERG testing, but harder to do for resistance mode/dumb trainers. But it is possible to reduce the data we see, and I think that is a good thing for many people.

I know the carrot of a target works for some people (maybe many?), but I firmly believe that too many people (myself included) fixate on some numbers, to our very detriment.

As the default condition is to have all that data visible, I think most people should try a reduced data test (remove as much as practical) and try a test again. It won’t work for everyone… I openly admit that. But I do think more people should be testing with less data.


#38

On a different topic, why the proposed change in test format?


#39

Whoops, thanks for the correction. And you definitely got me there :sweat:. Perfect example of how fixating on the numbers can actually hurt the accuracy/productivity of the test. Will try it blind next time!


#40

Speaking for myself, I’m ready to go back to 8 min tests. I’ve completed 8 ramp tests. The first 6 resulted in ftp estimates between 220W and 247W. And a couple of the first six were a “fail” in my mind, but still in that range. Just wasn’t happy with the result.

However my last two ramp tests (Dec 11 and Jan 28) gave me estimates of 188 and 195. My ftp is currently set to 245W and been completing workouts as I expected. My current theory is lack of a proper warmup is impacting my tests. The 8 min test has a 28 minute warmup with a ramp and a couple clearing efforts, and I like that warmup.

Tried using WorkoutCreator (WC) to merge a warmup (Laurel or Scott Peak -2) with the Ramp Test, but when I search for “ramp” or “test” it doesn’t appear. Too lazy to manually the scan the list in WC. And the latest on Monday the 28th this week I forgot to load Laurel or Scott Peak -2 as a warmup, and jumped right into Ramp Test and promptly failed again. Finally, I like the 8 min test format as it aligns with a couple of hard efforts on Wed night group rides. So I’m going back to the 8 min test.


#41

I really don’t care which test protocol people use. Each one has pros/cons, so there is not absolute winner.

But there is one thing I want people to keep in mind. I don’t think it is correct for people to swap between test protocols in search of the “best” FTP number.

They should pick a test (any one) and stick with it. In the beginning, I think it is important for people to use the test FTP and then consider how it performs with their following workouts. They should see if it meets the general IF and RPE for the workouts. If not, adjust as need.

Keeping that in mind, form a bit of a trend and if the difference between the particular test FTP and their subsequent workouts is too large, perhaps they would be better served by a different test protocol. I just think that picking and switching between tests should be done with an eye towards getting the FTP that is most accurate and will likely lead to the best training results. (Essentially just like you have done.)

Too often it seems people may well be jumping ship because they dislike the values and think they should be higher. I think it will be counter-productive. We see lots of people comparing FTP from various tests and apps, and often want to grab the big one, regardless of the context or history of all involved. It serves to derail their training if they don’t settle on a consistent method.