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Opinions on my ftp tests
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Been following the zwift build me up plan now for the past 12 weeks. During this time I’ve only missed one workout and have maintained running and swimming as I’m training for a triathlon. Because the plan is solely a cycling plan there have been times when the overall workload has been quite challaging and recovery has been an issue.

I ve only ever done a bit of cycling in the past but after signing up for my first triathlon I knew I’d have to do some proper training. Thats why about 16 weeks ago I bought a wattbike and joined zwift. After a bit of playing about I started the the 12 week buikld me up plan with the intention of making some performance gains on the bike and identify weaknesses.

At the start of the plan I undertook a ramp test to determine training metrics and benchmark starting fitness.

The results of the start ramp test gave me a ftp of 220w at 74kg / 2.9wkg

So today was test time again but zwifts final workout is the 20min ftp test. Since I’d gained my origanal ftp using the ramp test I wanted to use the same method again to keep things equal. I’ve been obsessing about trainer road and have been waiting for the zwift plan to come to an end so that I can join.

I did the trainerroad ramp test this morning which resulted in a ftp of 248 at 73kg / 3.4wkg an increase of 13% over the 12 weeks.
Been new to cycling I was expecting a decent power gain so I’m happy with that depite wanting more (I’m greedy)

I still needed to do the the 20min zwift workout to finish the plan so after ignoring the advice given on a diffrent thread I decided to extent my morning ride. My reason for doing it was that even if its purpose was no longer to gain accurate numbers I would at least get a decent workout and spend a bit more time at or around threshold. Wasnt expecting much and didnt know if I was going to even try for the 20mins knowing it wasnt going to be a true reflection of where I’m currently at.
Anyway after a long walm up and some shorter pickups I started the 20min and decided to see how I felt just above old ftp. Every 5mins or so I increased the power by 5-10 watts before ending with more or less all out. I was tired at the end and close to my limits but felt ok considering I’d done the ramp test as part of the same ride. The result of the 20min test were alomost identical as the ramp giving me a ftp of 245w .

I’m happy with my improvments but the results from the 20min test surprise me as I thought i wouldnt be able to get to that number due to the fatigue gained from the ramp test. This then makes me question my ramp test. I can honestly say I did the ramp to the best of my abbilty. My legs totally shut down at 330w and my heart rate was the most I have ever seen it on the bike at 181bpm which is in fack my max running heart rate which i rarely hit.

Hoping to hear peoples opinions on these test results. What do the show? My strenghs and weaknesses? In running I’ve always been better at longer distances and do better at longer training sessions at a more moderate intensity. Do these results show this?

To recap - New to cycling - 12weeks training - Start ftp 220w / 2.9wkg - End ftp 248w/ 3.4wkg
Been new to cycling these numbers dont mean all that much other than a 13% increase in power over a given time. Id be interested to hear peoples thoughts on this increase and where I’m currently at.
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [Jonnywev] [ In reply to ]
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A ramp test can't determine FTP. People with high anaerobic capacities perform better on a ramp test, because the final and deciding steps are anaerobic, while an FTP Test is aerobic.

FTP is one hour performance. Want to know your FTP? Ride for one hour! Can't motivate over an hour? Sorry, thats part of your FTP because the "f" is for functional. FTP is NOT 95% of 20', NOT 90% of 8' and not the final step of a ramp test multplied by some arbitrary number. The good thing about a real FTP test is, that it is a fantastic workout and brain training by itselve. Do it with a few friends for added motivation!

Once you have done a few, you can work out some indicator, for me 95% of 20' works well (I am more of a diesel engine), while for others 93% or even 97% works. But a ramp test will always depend on other factors like recovery and your ability to go highly anaerobic on the day.
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [adal] [ In reply to ]
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adal wrote:
A ramp test can't determine FTP. People with high anaerobic capacities perform better on a ramp test, because the final and deciding steps are anaerobic, while an FTP Test is aerobic.

FTP is one hour performance. Want to know your FTP? Ride for one hour! Can't motivate over an hour? Sorry, thats part of your FTP because the "f" is for functional. FTP is NOT 95% of 20', NOT 90% of 8' and not the final step of a ramp test multplied by some arbitrary number. The good thing about a real FTP test is, that it is a fantastic workout and brain training by itselve. Do it with a few friends for added motivation!

Once you have done a few, you can work out some indicator, for me 95% of 20' works well (I am more of a diesel engine), while for others 93% or even 97% works. But a ramp test will always depend on other factors like recovery and your ability to go highly anaerobic on the day.


The sufferfest has a ramp test that’ll get you within spitting distance of your FTP. To say you can’t do it is a misnomer. Also... FTP is not necessarily defined as a one hour performance... athletes’ bodies arent defined with an hour limiter :)

And to the OP: improvement is improvement as long as how you’re measuring it is the same before and after. 13% is pretty good! The different testing methods—8 minute critical power, ramp tests, 20 minutes— all measure slightly differently aspects of your fitness and can help approximate your FTP. It’s even worthwhile measuring 5 second and 20 second peak power to assess your workout blocks! An hour all out takes some recovery time and part of its accuracy issue is the psychological challenge so if there’s 5 “weak” minutes in there it’ll skew all the workouts you base it off of, a little low for what you can do.

Before this digresses to testing methods.. Good on you too for effectively negative splitting the 20 minute test, and again for a 13% improvement. Like Adal said, after you ride for a while you’ll get a feel for what your FTP is more and more. Once you establish new training zones (which is probably what you’ll mostly be using this for), monitor your heart rate for the corresponding zones and your RPE for what you typically feel and see. These are good subjective measures to check if you accurately set your FTP.

The bottom line is you’re using an approximation to establish training zones for the purpose of physiological stimulus and adaptation. More effective mitochondria building, more effective sustainable power, better fast twitch stimuli, whatever your target is. After a length of time you can pretty smartly adjust by feel to how that translates onto a race course.

Always getting faster!

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Last edited by: odpaul7: Oct 18, 20 4:45
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [odpaul7] [ In reply to ]
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odpaul7 wrote:

The sufferfest has a ramp test that’ll get you within spitting distance of your FTP. To say you can’t do it is a misnomer. Also... FTP is not necessarily defined as a one hour performance... athletes’ bodies arent defined with an hour limiter :)

It's easy, very easy, to design a ramp test that would give him wildly different numbers.

You are correct that FTP is not (and should not) be thought of as exactly one hour/60 minute performance. FTP would be an effort that you could sustain/hold for around an hour. That could mean anywhere in that ~ 50-70 min range.

When I look at the athletes I've consulted with and/or coach(ed) over the last 4-5 years, the # that come to me with an FTP that is too high and unsustainable for >45 minutes outweighs, by probably 15-1, the # that come to me with an FTP that is correct.

Almost every single athlete that is too high had been using one of the online platforms that do a lot of short, hard (>FTP) intervals. Then have the athlete do a ramp test to come up with their (an estimation) of FTP.

I think it's awesome that the OP did the plan, crushed it and really raised their estimated FTP. It's awesome and they aren't going to be less fit.

I'd wonder if they went out and did a 20-25 mile TT if they could actually hold that number?

It's a bet I'd take, and in the few instances someone has taken me up on it, I've yet to lose that bet.

There was a really good thread on this subject a bit ago, maybe 4-8 weeks. It's worth the search & read for anyone who's made it this far.

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching
Insta Twitter

Last edited by: desert dude: Oct 18, 20 5:00
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [Jonnywev] [ In reply to ]
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Going to just throw this in and agree with prior posts that the mini tests are not a good indicator of ftp and that most people have overestimated ftps.

Best way to do it is do an hour of power. Get your heart up to threshold and push power for 60min. Then personally, I’ll add 5% to that value and use that as my ftp.

https://www.strava.com/athletes/47783704
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [Jonnywev] [ In reply to ]
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I’ve done many ‘FTP’ tests over the years, but ultimately I put a lot more trust in the numbers I see in training rides. What power can you sustain in rides of 2, 3, or 4+ hours. That, in my mind, is a lot more meaningful compared to a 20’ or ramp test. Personally, I perform much better in a 20’ test than the ramp test - did both this past spring and was 15 watts higher on the 20’ test.

Blog: http://262toboylstonstreet.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/NateThomasTri
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [Jonnywev] [ In reply to ]
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The numbers you produced are great progress. I have been involved with a few groups that were new to structured training with power. We did one with a free 16 week group with World Tour coach last year and big bumps at the beginning were not rare. Most people did continue progressing afterwards, just a bit slower.

As for the different ways of testing, you won't get people here to agree what FTP actually is, never mind how to measure it. The guy that came up with the acronym's own definition has changed over time. Look at the pros and cons of the various methods, pick one and stick to it. Pick the one you will be mostly likely to do.

If ramp testing is your thing, take a look at this : https://wattmatters.blog/...lure-is-success.html

What I personally like about the ramp test is there is no issue pacing :-)
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [rsjrv99] [ In reply to ]
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Completely agree with this also. The 20 minute test is not the best indicator if youbate training for longer efforts. To add a bit of personal experience I did an evenly paced iTT on Zwift that lasted just over an hour. My average power for the event was higher than the FTP set on zwift from a 20 minute test. Zwift did not increase my FTP based on the iTT result and Zwift power showed the FTP for the ride as 95% of my best 20 minutes of the iTT, not the power for the whole hour.
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [Jonnywev] [ In reply to ]
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Others are getting hung up on the "FTP test". The answers would probably be different if it was just called XYZ test.
It would tell you the same thing independent of what it is called. The training you did was good to generate a 13% improvement on this specific ramp test.
It could be that you might have seen larger improvements in the other tests or smaller improvements. But it is impossible to know how much you improved in the 20 min test, the 40 km test, 1 h test or any other test. We don't know your background, age, weight, etc.

So, a 13% improvement looks is reasonable and it is a good amount.

Tiago
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Sponsors: : Blueseventy :
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [natethomas] [ In reply to ]
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natethomas wrote:
I’ve done many ‘FTP’ tests over the years, but ultimately I put a lot more trust in the numbers I see in training rides. What power can you sustain in rides of 2, 3, or 4+ hours. That, in my mind, is a lot more meaningful compared to a 20’ or ramp test. Personally, I perform much better in a 20’ test than the ramp test - did both this past spring and was 15 watts higher on the 20’ test.

This.

Let food be thy medicine...
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [BrzilianTri] [ In reply to ]
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Agreed. So much impacts power output too. Hydration, heat, elevation, position on the saddle (climbing vs. aero position), and even the flywheel effect (little ring vs. big ring, and your trainer model). The search for a static FTP within a narrow margin of error doesn't seem to be worthwhile given this. All of these tests have a huge psychological component too so even simply having the wrong mood can impact your numbers. Focusing on a consistent measure and using that as a guide for training is the best you can hope for. Congrats on your gains OP! I was able to put +94w on my FTP over 2 years using ramp tests. Keep it up!
Last edited by: daleks: Oct 18, 20 21:41
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [daleks] [ In reply to ]
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Find a real hill somewhere. Rinse and repeat!
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [adal] [ In reply to ]
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lol, not much science going into that thinking, ramp tests have a strong backing that the results can represent a statistically accurate one hour FTP number without all the fatigue of an all out hour. good luck doing a full hour FTP test every 4-8 weeks to measure your training adaption.
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [LordFarquuad] [ In reply to ]
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LordFarquuad wrote:
lol, not much science going into that thinking, ramp tests have a strong backing that the results can represent a statistically accurate one hour FTP number without all the fatigue of an all out hour. good luck doing a full hour FTP test every 4-8 weeks to measure your training adaption.

Of course there is a correlation. But the fluctuations of ramp tests for each individual are a representation of fatigue, nervous systems preparedness and mental state, not of FTP. You can have 2 entirely different FTP results on a ramp test on the very same day or week, do you think your FTP changed? Mine BTW goes up for the second test, as my tiny anaerobic capacity needs a "wakeup effort". So if I test on one day and on the next day come back 30 watts stronger, do you think my FTP changed? With a true one hour test the change from one test to the next (given enough rest and motivation) is very small, with the ramp test its big.

The ramp test is a great first indicator for where somebody stands. But to say I do a test today and again in 6 Weeks and measure the improvement - sorry this is not valid. Too many factors influence the ramp tests results in relationship to FTP, its not that stable. Better would be in fact to do the one hour test, than a 20' test in the same week and keep the relationship between those two, this would be more stable. And the changes are far too small to be measured by such an aproximation test. Let's say I get a 270 Watt FTP on my first ramp test and this really represents my true FTP. And I really improve 2,5% in 6 weeks, so my real FTP is now 277. Do you really think, that with all the influences of motivation, mental state and nervous system you can measure 7 Watts differences in a ramp test? Which is like 10 seconds more on the last step?

A good coach shouting at me will always extract 30 more seconds ...
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [Jonnywev] [ In reply to ]
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The advantage of the ramp test is that it is pretty easy to recover from..... but that is pretty much the only advantage

I track my FTP by doing races in Zwift that are just over 1 hour - However, it needs to be a pretty competetive race as my FTP is somewhere between 330 and 350 depending on my training.
Outdoors, my FTP is lower than riding indoors, based on Time Trials my outdoor FTP is about 315-320w. My TT position is far more aerodynamic than riding indoors, but I can't get the same power

Over the summer, riding outdoors, I focus on endurance, and maintaining a constant power @72-75% of my ftp for 5+ hours, as a result my ftp tends to decline. In the winter I race a lot on Zwift and my FTP goes up. I am more of a diesel engine, and can hold big power for a long time, but I am rubbish at sprints, so would make a lousy bike racer

I find that a lot of ftp and VO2 Max building programs focus on building your anaerobic engine, this is great if you want race crits, however, completely useless for IM racing. I love racing on Zwift riding at my limit for an hour, keeping my Average Power and Normalised Power as close as possible..... I always get mugged at the end by riders who can sprint, but love looking at the results and seeing that I had the highest W/KG as this is what will make a difference in my triathlons

FWIW I havent done a stand alone FTP test in more than a year, I just don't see the point
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [mattsurf] [ In reply to ]
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mattsurf wrote:
The advantage of the ramp test is that it is pretty easy to recover from..... but that is pretty much the only advantage

The big advantage of the ramp test is that you don't have to have any idea of what your FTP is to do it. A 20 minute test or a 1 hour test require you to have a pretty solid handle on what your FTP is in order to pace it properly - the result of the test will confirm or refute your hypothesis as to what your FTP was. With the ramp test you just go til you blow and it tells you a number. Hence I like the ramp test after an extended off-period where I'm not really sure what my FTP is.
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Re: Opinions on my ftp tests [ClayDavis] [ In reply to ]
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ClayDavis wrote:
mattsurf wrote:
The advantage of the ramp test is that it is pretty easy to recover from..... but that is pretty much the only advantage


The big advantage of the ramp test is that you don't have to have any idea of what your FTP is to do it. A 20 minute test or a 1 hour test require you to have a pretty solid handle on what your FTP is in order to pace it properly - the result of the test will confirm or refute your hypothesis as to what your FTP was. With the ramp test you just go til you blow and it tells you a number. Hence I like the ramp test after an extended off-period where I'm not really sure what my FTP is.

This is a pretty good point. As a cyclist, I have a pretty good sense where my FTP is. One thing that Zwift racing has really helped me with is pacing, this is directly translatable into Triathlon bike pacing
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