How accurate is the ramp test?

I recently finished a 6 week training plan, and did a ramp test. This set my FTP at 195, which I thought was a very high value, and huge increase.
Anyway, having started another plan, I think it really is wrong, because the first tempo workout killed me. Had to bail out halfway through as I couldn’t stick with the pace.
So today I took 15W off my FTP, and tried another workout, foundation level. Spot on, comfortable HR, 120bpm, just as it should be. I think the next tempo workout will be at the right level too.
Which leads me to question why the ramp test put my FTP so high in the first place.

The ramp test (or I should say, this abbreviated ramp test) is going to yield a higher number. Many recreational cyclists can not ride at near max levels for 20 minutes, which yields a low and inaccurate FTP. The ramp test is designed to test riders of all levels of fitness. You increased your levels which is significant. Sounds like you are ready for the 20 minute test :sweat_smile:

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Haha! TBH I feel pain just thinking about a 20 minute maxed out test.

It’s very uncomfortable if you’re doing it right, lol. On the upside, if you feel that 180 is a good approximation of your FTP (based on your workout adjustment), and if you wanted to do the short FTP test, you could have that number (180) as your initial goal for the 20-min effort (i.e. you wouldn’t be going into it completely unaware of what target wattage to attempt, as first-time FTP testers typically are). After 10 minutes, you’d have a good idea how accurate the 180 prediction was and could make adjustments (or not) as necessary for the second half / last quarter of the effort (remember, you want to be on the verge of collapse at the end of the 20 min :face_vomiting: ). During the 20-min FTP segment, the HUD continuously displays your average wattage, so you know where you stand at all times. Obviously don’t try the FTP test unless well-recovered, rested (e.g. do not do it the day after or maybe even within two days of any hard effort), fueled, hydrated, etc.
A couple more recommendations: first, on any particular day, load an FTP test (workout), select a route, and click ride—you’re not doing a ride; it’s just so that you can preview what the protocol looks like prior to the 20-min effort. Then, for the day when you actually do the test, use a flat route like Tempus Fugit, so you can concentrate on the effort itself without other distractions like changing slopes (downhills especially).

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It is not accurate for many reasons. I would suggest listening to this podcast to learn why. https://www.empiricalcycling.com/podcast-episodes/category/ramp-test

Ok message received. Ramp test - pile of crap. Better off using empirical testing to determine FTP level.

Only because Zwift has an abbreviated ramp test. You’ll find a full ramp test to be fairly accurate. Either up 5 watts per minute or 25 watts every four minutes. They take a lot longer obviously, which is why they are more accurate.

I might catch flack for saying this, but depending on your current aerobic/anaerobic strengths, I would revert back to the all out 20 minute TT and remove 5-7%. If you have access to a program like WKO (I think they are on version 5 now), Strava Premium or anything like that, I think they also do a good job at giving a estimated guess on your FTP. Most people will get a FTP that is too high if they do a 20 minute all out test and remove 5% but this is getting into a whole different debate of what FTP truly is, and a slew of physiological theories on human performance.

Last year I had an FTP of 241. Had an accident in March and was off the bike until January.

  • Ramp test when I got back said 198.
  • Did the Zwift Racing plan then retested 8 weeks later. Ramp test said 211.
  • Did the Build Me Up plan (missed a lot of workouts) and retested 10 weeks later. Ramp test said 251.

Really? The BME plan can’t be that good. I’ve done that plan before and increased 2%-5%, not 15%-20%. Now I can barely hang on to a Z2-Z3 workout. I would hope I could get back to where I was, but that seems awfully fast.

Each of the tests was done with a 20 minute warmup and on days I was feeling good. I tend to favor sprinting and don’t pace well so I tend to not do well on the 20-min test, but it looks like I’ll have to go back and do that instead.

Or should I just up my FTP by 10% to 232 and go up incrementally every 8 weeks?