I had my offseason ramp tests go from 234 to 233 to 232 and accepted it every time.
Is your goal to stay the same in the offseason?
Goals and reality don’t always align.
My simple heuristic for whether you should increase FTP, keep the same, or accept a lower number.
- Did you complete all of your workouts in the plan as expected? If so, accept a higher number or keep the same FTP in the event you have a lower test result
- Did you fail 1 or 2 workouts at the very last week of SSB2/build? If so, keep the same FTP if you have a lower test result
- Did you fail more than 2 workouts? Accept the lower number
From what the TR folks have said (and in my experience with my own training and reviewing other people’s files in DM), one of the best predictors of performance and increases in FTP is your ability to consistently complete workouts.
FTP change after SS Base I Mid Volume
I really like the summary and approach with the considerations listed. (Bookmarked for future reference.)
Good stuff, Steve.
No, just how it worked. First ramp was at the end of my build, second was a couple weeks prior to my A event to confirm my race plan, last one was after a few weeks of unstructured riding and moving prior to SSBMV1. I went up to 247 starting SSB2, and should be in the 250s entering build.
Yeah I should have clarified - that’s more what I meant.
If you’ve been off the bike, unwell, or otherwise struggling with workouts then it makes sense to accept it.
Well I can join the club of disappointing ramp test. I’m 4 weeks into GBHV and only cut one interval short, not the entire workout, just one interval in 4 weeks. I quit the ramp test today well short of my last test. Maybe it’s mental or I’m getting weaker but I’m going back to the 20 minute test. My HR gets so high before the intensity even gets to tempo from anticipation, then I start questioning everything from muscle fatigue to heavy breathing to what the meaning of life is and why the F am I doing this and before you know it I give into the discomfort and quit. After 4 ramp tests I am at the conclusion I prefer the 20 minute test. I go in with a very good idea what I can pace at and then try riding a little above that. Although the ramp test is short it’s hard watching my HR bouncing off the rev limiter 17 minutes in knowing I have 3-4 more minutes just to break even. Sorry for venting=today wasn’t a good day…
Stick with it. I also test poorly, however here in south Louisiana, the weather is good enough that outdoor group rides happen year round. I do the TR workouts consistently tues- thurs then on the weekends I alternate between TR and fast club rides. On the Saturday club ride I routinely up the pace when I am on the front and ride people off my wheel who are usually faster. My completely anecdotal results indicate that I am getting stronger each week judging by teammates comments and the number of riders who struggle to stay even in the draft on the sections where we have an unofficial race. I’d love to know my real FTP but for now I just adjust based on how things go during the weekday workouts and I can assure you sticking with the plan pays off.
I’m kinda confused by my ramp test from yesterday.
I had been smashing the first half of sustained power build, the only workout I failed being where I got a puncture halfway through! I even turned up the intensity on a couple of them.
I changed bikes after the puncture, but I’m in a good position on the horns/flats on my TT bike, and I felt really good doing Darwin on this bike last week.
Despite the cold affecting my breathing I got to 20 minutes in, and I thought I was going to get a bit of a bump, but not much. Prior to the test I was expecting to be ~255 given how comfortable I had felt on the previous workouts, and I was all in for a good test. Instead the suggested FTP was 240 - identical to what I had been using for the whole month before. I don’t think erg mode helped me as I ended up running my cadence a bit high, but my FTP has essentially been the same since September last year - all of SSB 1 and 2 and half of Sustained Power Build. The previous year I got a big FTP bump in both of SSB2 and Sustained Power Build, so I’m confused why the power has stayed the same, but the workouts have got much more doable.
The plan calls for a ramp tomorrow (I prefer to do them at a sensible time on the weekend rather than 6am on a Tuesday), so I might try a 20 minute test tomorrow and see what that does. It will be warmer tomorrow at 6am than it was at 10am on Sunday.
How many people here, on having a ‘disappointing’ ramp test, push their training plans back a week and redo the test the next week (with a couple of appropriate sessions between the two)?
I tend to mix in the odd sufferfest ride and outdoor riding around the low volume plans. I finish LV SSB2 this week so I’ll be due a ramp test at the start of next week. I’ll do that, but then do a few sufferfest sessions and their fitness test on the weekend. Hopefully the FTP results from the two will be in the same ballpark. I’ll then redo the ramp test as I launch into the build phase.
That’s a lot of testing, but not too much of an extreme training load. It also helps weed out any ‘bad day’ test results. I’ll use all the information gained from this to set what I think is the right FTP, and then keep this under review as I get into the build phase. If I’m completing the workouts with them feeling like they are at the right level , then great. If not, then i can adjust up or down.
I guess that the more tests I do the less hung up i get on the results of any one specific test. The results from them are indicative, not set in stone.
For whats it’s worth, I’ve gone through a VO2 Max, and two threshold workouts since (Washington +4 and Fish-2) both completed successfully at the old FTP. Hard, but completed, despite external TSS being high.
Definitely need to get my head properly in the game with the testing - I think I’ve been over looking the head and just thinking about the legs and lungs when it comes to testing.
I think this is a challenge for many people. When you read the stories about disappointing ramp tests, most of them start with, “I was expecting…” As I said before, I think a lot of people go into their test hopeful for, if not expecting, big increases in FTP. When the effort gets really hard close to the break even point, as it invariably does even when you achieve a 5% gain, I think this really messes with people’s heads as they might be expecting 19:30 to feel easier. There’s a huge mental side to testing and pushing to physical failure.
Yup, I still think people are over-analyzing leading into the Ramp in particular, but all tests in general. We all want growth, but that is not always possible or apparent in a test that effectively looks at a single data point (i.e. FTP).
Treat the test like a race and come in fully fueled, and mentally planning to give it everything you have. Then try to block out as much data as possible and ride purely by feel (20m or 2x8m test) or push until you absolutely implode (Ramp) to give the test a full pull.
Would it be reasonable to assume that much of users frustrations are due to lack of realistic expectations for improvement rather than testing protocol?
If you’re new to structured training (and even more so if you’re new to cycling) you should see big gains regardless of plan. Every test is a big win.
At some point you will plateau and improvement will be very incremental. At that point if you don’t increase training volume/intensity/TSS you shouldn’t expect your FTP to improve much if at all.
Put another way, your current volume (LV, MV, HV) plans will have a point of diminishing returns in terms of FTP improvement as you approach your physiological potential at a given training load.
The plans are excellent, but TR isn’t magic…
I totally agree every sentence especially on SSB LV2. It is really hard. I am on 6th week and cannot wait for the rest week.
Great response by the way !
Bah and double Bah!
I figured I’d do a 20 minute FTP test as my workout this morning after the ramp on Sunday. It was all going swimmingly until I got to the leg clearing bit, when the resistance just died away. I thought it was an issue with my turbo, and re-calibrated, fiddled about a bit, then realised it was in resistance mode and put it back into Erg mode. At this point it made me do 400W! :o I can’t do that for 5 minutes before a 20 minute test. Eventually I decided I would put it back into resistance mode and fiddle with it and wait and see. It got to the rest period and went back into erg mode and worked properly, and I realised that TR must have put it into resistance mode so I could control the resistance and spin. Sigh.
I decided to the the 20 minute test again. I figured I could get a 4 or 5 % bump in FTP, so I put the intensity up to 104% in the app. Then, when the 20 minute period started it said I needed to do 254W, so I fiddled with the resistance slightly so I could do around there. I worked hard, but I got to the end with some juice left and hammered the last minute. The average for the interval was 254W, so bang on target. My new FTP is 241W. 241W. That’s right, even though I put the intensity up to 104% it doesn’t seem to have changed my target power, so I put myself through all this, and the only reason why my FTP changed at all is that I smashed the last minute. If I had known that 104% of my previous FTP required 265W for 20 minutes I reckon I could have done that (or at least died trying), but I didn’t wawnt to blow up and thought that sticking to 254 was proper pacing. So frustrated.
What equipment are you using?
I had a look at your test and saw quite a lot of variability particularly in step 13 and 14 where you were significantly over the power target for periods, which could potentially reduce the length of time you can sustain the test for, while not actually getting (much) credit in the calculated FTP value at the end.
For anyone wanting to try the non-Ramp test options, please review this info prior to testing, to understand the important differences in these other test.
- Importantly, for those with smart-controlled trainers, these other tests use a mix of Resistance and ERG modes through the test.
- You will need to shift and pick your own resistance level during the early burn-off and official test periods.
- In your 20m test, you made a significant kick at the end of the test. This is antithetical to the point of the 20m test. The main idea here (and in each of the 8m parts of the 2x8m test), the rider is supposed to settle into a pace that is the maximum they can sustain for that time period.
- The ideal is a nearly flat profile (like most of your test shows) and a near complete collapse at the completion of that time. There should be minimal up or down swings in the test.
- A common goal is a very subtle smiley face with a slight high at the beginning, maybe a dip in the middle when you settle in to the work, and a slight increase to the end. But large swings are not optimum for the accuracy of the test.
- All the comments about how you were adjusting the Intensity and adding a kick at the end sound to me like you are shooting for a specific FTP target. I understand the desire, but I think it is counter to the whole purpose of testing.
- The testing process is intended to evaluate fitness at or around FTP. When we go into it with a specific target, (especially with the calculated precision some apply), we risk getting incorrect results.
- I have seen some that are lower than what the rider can perform. But more often, it seems we have a goal in mind and fail to achieve it for any number of possible reasons. I have done this myself and been down on my training as a result.
- Too often, we seem to place more emphasis on these tests than they deserve.
- They are very important and useful in setting our training zone, and they can be used for pacing in some events.
- But we fixate on the actual FTP value too much and effectively place our fitness/cycling “worth” on that value to our own detriment.
- Ideally, I feel we should go into these tests (no matter which format you use) fully prepared to give a maximal effort and blow ourselves up. It means having proper nutrition and mindset going in to them.
- I think people need to start using less information before (not having planned FTP expectations, time goals for the Ramp, etc.), and during (ignore most on-screen data like Power and Heart Rate in particular) and just test with feel only. Put in a maximal effort that leaves you properly worked over with little if any doubt that you left something in the tank.
- If we do this, and reduce the importance we place on the FTP value itself, I think we stand to get better test results (in the form of more accurate info, even if that may not be to our expectations) that should lead to better training.
All this is meant as a check on our views of testing and the related FTP, so we get what really matters from it without it distracting from the true goal of increasing our fitness.
- The FTP test is just one data point and not the only way we should be evaluating our overall fitness gains.
- We need to look at the other things like Time to Exhaustion, overall power profile, and other ways to measure our fitness that go well beyond the FTP itself.
I appreciate the advice, including that about not seeing FTP as the be-all and end-all. It’s easy to view that number as the target for all training activity when it’s winter and you don’t go outside much though!
In the past (I’ve not used the 20 minute test for over a year) I was on a dumb trainer and a geared bike. Today I was on a smart trainer (Tacx Bushido Smart) and a fixie, so changing the resistance was not as straightforward! Power is always measured by my pedals, so that stays consistent, and I remembered to change the crank length in the settings.
In past 20 minute tests, I’ve found that picking a target wattage for the test and then aiming to maintain that for 20 minutes is the best way of pacing myself - otherwise I’ve blown up completely or got to the end with gas in the tank. Testing on feel for a 20 minute test needs pacing ability I currently lack (out of practise). I appreciate that the kick at the end means I ended with gas in the tank, so that my test was not done in an optimal manner. That was not my intention - I think that’s because the target I set myself was too low, which was down to my misunderstanding of what adjusting the intensity would achieve. I should have done the math instead of relying on the intensity adjustment - if I had done that I would have been aiming at 265 or so and risked blowing up.
I switched to the ramp test as soon as it came out because it meant I didn’t have to bother with pacing, but my recent ramp tests have not reflected my ability to do the other workouts, hence my switch to the 20 minute one today.