How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the RAMP



We are snowflakes! Lets all just Ramp ourselves up!


I’ll guessing one of the advantages of the ramp test is to remove a lot of the thinking…

Seriously you’re over thinking this way too much.

When the ramp changes, dig in and pedal,
Repeat to failure


Thanks for clarifying, so far I don’t feel like my HR has become the top limiter though it’s getting close (I’d say my MAX HR is around 195) and based on the data there’s a pretty strong trendline across all the tests.

I think that’s because i haven’t tried to push past 20 minutes, or pushed at a higher W yet, where I’d start blowing up before the 20 min cutoff I’ve given myself.

I like the mental exercise of trying to figure out what my gears would be if I just stuck with an 80-85 cadence, it looks like I’d end up doing something like;

34x19, Warmup
34x17, Step 1 - 3
34x16, Step 4 - 5
34x15, Step 6 - 7
34x13 Step 8 - 9

Based on:

then I assume 34x12 from 9-15… but I doubt I’d be able to stick in that cadence zone w/ so low a gear so I’d probably be better of switching to the big chain ring earlier… but then I’m back to where I blowing up on my first test because of the gear changes.

5 Gear changes just to get 1/2 way through the test seems problematic for me… but perhaps my “natural cadence” (if I’m trained enough to have any such thing) is something higher (maybe 90-95) which does seem like it would open up a larger (aka less need to shift) band for me.

Probably once I’m trained again and are more reliant on the muscles vs. the cardio the lower range might be better.

What do you think?


Wow! Impressive…Reading I’m guessing this is something you possible have to think about with a dumb trainer? Sorry if this is incorrect thinking…

But if that’s the case I’m happy I’ve a smart trainer, especially when doing the the ramp test, I don’t think I could mentally think about this during the test.

Guess I’m fortunate that I just set my cadence and pedal until I fail…


Its certainly not something I think about much when on a dumb trainer. I put about the same amount of thought into shifting as I would on the road.


Having never used a smart trainer I am in the same boat and can honestly say I have no issue with changing gear during the ramp test. Most steps requires either a little rise in cadence or a shift.


@willball12 and @ChrisJDunbar - Can I ask; (1) how many gears would you say you usually use during a test and (2) what’s sort of the average duration of your test?

I think I just have never tried to build up a “gear 6th sense” (when I used to train it would basically be “on” or “off” (e.g. during the intervals) - meaning a “big gear” or a “recovery gear” with only maybe minor tweaks when I was “on” (e.g. to do an over/under).

So hopefully once I get build up that mental muscle I will need about the same amount of thinking as you two!


I ramp test on a dumb trainer and shifting shouldn’t be an issue. The 1 min steps are plenty of time to settle in. If I guess I’d say I shift every other step early on and more frequently as the power goes up.

Just an observation but I’m reading a lot of “worry” and very little “love” in this thread…

The ramp test , or any FTP test, is nothing but an approximation of FTP which in turn is a tool to approximate workout intensities. Getting a “better” score is otherwise meaningless.

I say this knowing there are plenty of people who will spend ample time agonizing gear choices to get an extra 5 watts on a test and immediately return to the forum to complain that VO2 intervals are too hard…

To each their own. I’ll show myself out.


I honestly couldn’t say for certain because, again, not much thought into it. Maybe every third step? I keep around 90rpm but don’t fuss too much being off 10rpm in either direction. A test is 20-25 minutes total for me.

  1. I’m not certain so this is kind of a guess but when on the trainer I am in the big ring the whole time and maybe shift around the cassette 4-5 times. As mentioned above this sometimes involves ‘settling in’ and not meeting the target watts for a short while of the interval.

  2. I looked back, range is from 23 to 27mins for the whole workout (including warm up/down).


+1 here for gear changes on dumb trainer doing ramp test. It’s essentially mandatory to get a good test AND keep your cadence in your “normal” range throughout.

For me, I probably shift to next harder gear on average about every ramp step or two. As long as you have an idea where cadence comfort zone is, it should be easy to decide when to shift. I typically shift from small ring to big (and make corresponding jump back up cassette) somewhere around my current FTP - YMMV of course depending on your gearing, trainer resistance and FTP.

At or above your high end comfortable cadence? Shift one.

Low in your cadence comfort range when a step increase comes? Don’t shift (at first), just increase cadence a few.

OP, I’d wager you can do a bit better on your future tests if you keep your cadence more consistent throughout by using your gears. Find the gear that gives you comfortable cadence to start the first step, then just shift one at a time when cadence comfort dictates. You don’t need to know gear ratio vs speed.


I think I Shifted 6 times today, Roughly 3 steps per gear.


Thanks for all the input on you you all shift, @Dlove @dbf @willball12 @ChrisJDunbar @Tanner1280

Now that I’ve had a few days off, I plan to start SSB1 - which of course means another RAMP test, and I’ll try the ~3 ramps per gear around 90 cadence +/- 5 RPM and maybe I can go past 20 minutes this time. I’m certain I would have been able to in the past but just not sure how far past.

I’m definitely not too worried about finding the perfect number and really just happy to be able to start training again!