Ramp Test : Just Doesn't Work For Me


FTP tests are just tools to set the intensity of your workouts appropriately. Really the most important thing your are trying to accomplish is accurate estimation of LT2 &/or MLSS.

So, you know you. If you can complete threshold workouts at the bigger number & it feels like a threshold workout should…then that’s the number. If it feels like it’s too much…then that’s not the number: it’s too high. If threshold workouts feel like sweet spot workouts…then that’s not the number: it’s too low.



Can you link to it rather than a screenshot?

A couple of questions,

What gearing did you have set up?

How did you feel before the power dropped? Max HR and effort or felt like you had some more?

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I felt pretty good, although my cadence was dropping from 90s to 50s.
(I didn’t have my RPM monitor connected don’t know exactly)

I was in ERG mode, HR was 172.



Can you see it through that link?



You have it marked as private, but if your cadence had dropped from 90s to 50s I suspect you were cooked and the trainer was upping the resistance to compensate for your rapidly reducing leg speed. The classic death spiral

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Hmmm. I thought in ERG mode, the trainer is supposed to increase resistance as the RPMs go down. I do this all the time during training. I was tired, but I was completing the full intervals.

Does this link work? I am not quite sure how to share publicly.

Here it is on Strava.



Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. You were up into V02 max territory and dropping cadence rapidly. In erg mode the resistance will keep rising to an unsustainably level to try and keep you at the same interval power you were hitting at 90rpm.

You weren’t sustaining the target power so the test finished

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The TR link is still private. The Strava link works, lacks cadence info, but includes speed, which shows what happened.

Yes, ERG mode makes the trainer adjust resistance to hit the power target. But it’s not magic or instant. They take time to recognize a cadence change to start, then it takes time to adjust to that change. This is typical in all apps and trainers.

ERG works great, but it essentially requires steady and predictable cadence. Changes are fine, but you have to recognize the inherent delay in the system.

In your case, you got cooked and started to drop cadence (via speed). You slowed dramatically and it was not possible for the trainer to catch up to the rate of your cadence drop. Your issue was that you were toast and your legs were done. Even if the trainer could instantly hit the power target, that would have crushed your already taxed legs. You were done.

I think you got an accurate test. You should have just stopped sooner instead of grinding down so low.



^ this. :+1:t3:

Don’t be a slave to your FTP number. Use experience and observation to adjust where needed

  1. Pick your FTP protocol - ramp or 20 min test - and set your FTP.
  2. if certain types of workouts (e.g. VO2 max, vs. threshold/sweet spot) are consistently too hard or easy, adjust the intensity down or up appropriately for that type of workout (a bit of trial and error will allow you to land on the right %)
  3. if all workouts are consistently too hard or easy, your FTP likely needs to be reset, down or up
  4. Before making a judgement too quickly on a given workout, consider the IF of that workout. Failing a 0.85 IF workout leads to a different conclusion than failing a 0.93 workout. Likewise, a 0.85 IF workout feeling “too easy” is leads to a different conclusion than a 0.93 workout feeling too easy.


@BigOlBar I think this is the poignant question. I think you were at the wattage ceiling for that gear at your cadence in the 90s. As you came down in cadence so did the power because you were at the ceiling. I’m going to guess you were in the pretty easy end of your bike’s gearing range?



@Crownan +1 you mean resistance/torque ceiling of the trainer

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Potato Potato :grin:

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@Jonnyboy I was in the 2nd easiest gear. I didn’t think it mattered in ERG mode? Should I stay in the harder gears in ERG mode?



That’s what I expected. You probably hit the ceiling of the trainers resistance for that gear. You should find that the wattage/resistance can increase beyond that if you had changed gears.

What trainer are you using?

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I had an issue with hitting the wattage/resistance ceiling during my last test, entirely my fault for not checking my gears. Middle of the block is a good place to be.

However, in my case my cadence remained constant whilst my wattage plateaued and then dropped (in erg) mode.



I did the ramp test this morning, and it came out as 313 which is exactly what I expected and fits perfectly with three other “tests” that I cross referenced: a 3 lap/50min Zwift race (319 watts), a 20min Zwift race (330), and WKO4s modeled FTP (mFTP; 320). When taken together it all shows that my FTP is somewhere around 310-320, which is good enough to train with. FTP for training does not need to exact but it needs to be close, which the ramp test does.

With that said though, it is just one test and not the be all end all of metrics. As a middle school teacher, I always like to remind my students that everyone tests differently, but it is not the test results that matter it is what you do with them. As long as the recommended FTP gives you a number that challenges you in workouts (when it should) and fits with the RPE of the prescribed workout then it is good enough. It can always be fine tuned as you collect more results.

Just my two watts



Slightly off the cuff, but has anyone ever tried doing the Ramp Test in Resistence mode? I hit the death spiral in ERG mode, but I’m wondering if I could perform “better” if I was able to crank out the watts while being able to modulate my cadence. Just a thought.



Hi Chad, I know you posted these a while back but what is “consensus” on roughly what an acceptable drop in intensity is? 2%? 3%?

I was feeling stronger and upped my FTP by 2.5% (no test) an did 2 very hard workouts this week (Spencer +3 and Leconte) and missed both by…you guessed it 3% lol but I did 3 not quite as tough workouts before and hit those targets.

Anyway I know theres day to day variances as part of life but just curious on whats ok?



@tribuddha Solid biker, username of “tribuddha”, good handle on the proper use of tests…come teach my kids please!!! :man_student:

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I don’t know if there was a firm answer. It can depend on each person and the particular zone in the workout.

  • For instance, some do fine at the default 120% of FTP used for many of the VO2 Max workouts. But many find more success in dropping 2-5% (more in some cases) and still get the benefit needed.
  • So, sadly it varies. Some people are stronger and weaker at different places in the power curve.
  • That 2-3% is a fine start and people will need to evaluate the effect in each workout to see if they are hitting the prescribe effort and results.