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TrainerRoad Makes FTP Testing Suck Less With a New Ramp Test

TrainerRoad released a new FTP Ramp test. The Ramp Test is an assessment workout that uses gradual increases in Target Power to push you as hard as possible over the course of a fairly short but demanding, continuous effort.

This method of testing isn’t new and has been around in some shape or form for many years. If you’ve done a VO2 max test, then you’ve probably done this graded test. TrainerRoad used data from over 7000 athletes to tweak this test and now it’s the new standard way to do an FTP test in all their plans.

WHAT IS FTP TESTING

The goal of FTP (Functional Threshold Test) is to calculate your ability to sustain the highest possible power over 60-minutes. The best way to do an FTP test is by taking that number from a recent race or going for an all-out time trial.

However, not everyone has access to a 60-minute race any time of the year so other methods were developed to calculate your FTP. The most popular one is the 20-minute test.

Up until now, TrainerRoad used the 20-minutes test – modeled after Hunter Allen – and the 2×8 minute test – modeled after Chris Carmichael – to calculate FTP in their training plans.

If you’ve done an FTP test, then you know how hard those can be. Aside from the physical part, they can also be mentally exhausting. I’ve lost sleep when I knew I had to get up in the morning and do an FTP test so I always tried to avoid them and estimate my power based on recent workouts. After many years of racing and riding, you get good at knowing where your FTP should be.

THE NEW WAY TO TEST

TrainerRoad wanted to build a method for athletes to use to make FTP testing less daunting and easier to do and they came up with the Ramp test. They introduced the Ramp test sometimes last year in beta and I got to try it few times.

The first half of the workout begins with a very light 5 minutes of easy pedaling around 50% of your FTP, and then target power slightly increases every minute. Simply match your watts to the target power and hang in there for as long as you can until you can’t pedal any longer.

Typically, the test lasts between 16-20 minutes and really doesn’t start to get uncomfortable until those last few minutes. “At that time, it’s imperative that you really push yourself. Keep turning those pedals over until you simply cannot maintain Target Power any longer.” according to TrainerRoad.

TrainerRoad will take your best 1-minute power and take 75% of that as your FTP. They originally started around 78% but after analyzing how athletes performed in subsequent threshold and VO2 max workouts, they decided to drop the number down to 75%.

According to TrainerRoad, over 7000 athletes performed the test when it was in beta. That allowed them to tweak the test until they felt comfortable with the results. They also built some algorithm to take your best 1-minute power regardless if you had some minor drop out in power.

I did the test couple of times. I didn’t have an FTP number from a recent test but I knew where my number should be just based on my own experience and recent workouts. The Ramp test was very spot on both times, probably few watts lower than what I expected but that was most likely my ego inflating my FTP.

ERG MODE OR SLOPE MODE

When performing an FTP test, you want to turn ERG mode off to get a proper assessment. However, with the Ramp test, ERG mode is the preferred method to take your mind off changing gears to try to match the target power. Simply set your trainer on ERG mode and go until you can’t pedal any longer. If you prefer slope or resistance mode or have a dumb trainer, that’s okay too.

HOW TO PERFORM THE RAMP TEST:

  • You can find the test by searching the workout library for Ramp test.
  • If you have a smart trainer, set it on ERG mode, TrainerRoad will automatically have ERG mode enabled for this test.
  • You don’t need to warm up. The first half of the workout takes place at low enough intensities that you should not require a warm-up. If you decide to add time for a longer warm up, just try to repeat that same method every time you test.
  • Don’t worry about your cadence.
  • There is no heart rate target that you have to meet. You can perform the test without a heart rate monitor.
  • You want to be seated during the full test.
  • If you are a triathlete on TT bike, then do the test in your aero position and try not to get out or stand.
  • You don’t need to finish the full workout.
  • Pedal until you can’t pedal any longer or your power start dropping.
  • TrainerRoad will set your FTP based on your best 1-minute.

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2 Comments

  • Good article but there’s a new tool out there to avoid those test, Ill been using trainer road for a while but the last 2 years I switch to XERT, upload my data and the system gave me the TP (FTP) automatic. So accurate that I gave up doing the test. You should try that and make a review about it.

    • Thanks Israel! I have been watching my FTP on Xert as well and it’s interesting. I should have something about the tool soon.