DIY Ramp Test (aka Smart Training for Cheapskates)

I have a smart trainer (an old Bkool that isn’t great but refuses to die) and a P2M on my bike so I have access to the equipment required for Zwift, Trainerroad etc. but I’m too tight to pay a subscription.

As such I’ve been using Golden Cheetah & VeloReality to do trainer sessions both in Erg & Slope mode but what I’ve never really done is a proper FTP test. I’m not convinced I have the requisite will power to complete a 20min test (let alone 60min) especially after the all out 5min & 1min clearing efforts you’re supposed to do first (but which most people seem to mysteriously overlook)
However, I do like the sound of the ramp tests that have appeared more recently as these seem easier to perform without any prior knowledge of your FTP and their repeat-ability with less impact on training around them.
Information on the exact protocol seems a little thin with most links pointing to MAP ramp tests seeming to be the basis and FTP being 75% of the MAP result. I plan to start at 100W for 10min or so warmup then going into a continuous ramp at a rate of 25W per minute until failure then back to 100W for a warm-down. MAP would be the average of the last minute with FTP 75% of that.
It may not be perfect but as long as I stick to the same protocol it will at least be consistent and comparable to previous/future results. Training levels can be adjusted accordingly if they turn out to be too easy/hard based on that result.
Any feedback or suggestions re changes or improvements to the protocol, or it’s use, gratefully received.

25w seems a big jump. Just looked at the TR ramp, and for me they’re 14w steps. I think the absolute jump in the steps depends on your starting FTP. They’re about 5-6% jumps.

Other than that, everything sounds sensible. I had a trainerroad test where the app froze on completion and wouldn’t let me save, so I did the 75% of max minute power manually from my Garmin file. On contacting support, they recovered the TR file and provided me with their FTP. It was a watt or two different.

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Some useful info

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Thanks for the replies.
I saw that trainer road used 6%/min which would be similar to you for my FTP.
Interestingly the information on MAP tests (including British Cycling) gave 20W/min for elite cyclists but 25W/min for non-elite which seemed backwards to me. I can only think that 25W gets you to failure quicker so the cumulative fatigue is less than smaller steps. Having said that they recommend 15W/min for women so I don’t know.
Ps. I intend to use a continual slope at a rate of 25W/min so there won’t be sudden jumps of 25W to cope with.

No idea what difference it would make, but that’s obviously not the approach used by trainerroad and other ramp tests I’ve seen. I can see a continual slope being harmful and making 75% end up under reporting your FTP, as your max minute will be lower via a continual slope.

If you take the NP calc as a baseline, then because power is squared, doing your final minute at an average of 250w but with that based on the minute starting at 237.5w and progressively growing to 262.5w, then that’s way harder than a full minute at constant 250w. The 30s spent above 250w is significantly more physiologically demanding than the 30s spent below 250w is physiologically “easier” (per NP).


I have a free months sub to TR if you want it?
If so just pm me your email address.

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This was one of the best descriptions I could find and it suggests breaking the intervals down into smaller units (5w/12s). I read somewhere else that a slope is even better.
When the TR ramp test was being discussed on ST, Coggan suggested this guy was the oracle on ramp tests and let’s be honest, he doesn’t have a good word for that many people :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Thanks PCP that’s very generous, but I wouldn’t have any intention of carrying on with it so I want to come up with my own and stick to it from day 1. Appreciate the offer though.

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non erg mode ramps are really hard, and will very unlikely under report what you could have achieved in an erg ramp - of course individual ability in a test is highly variable in any case.

Personally I would not use any sort of test as an FTP test, but derive it from max efforts of any duration via some sort of critical power model, as that will remove the test motivation and test performance from the equation (ie it deals with the problem of you not getting fitter, you just getting better at the test)

Of course I wouldn’t use FTP as a value for any sort of training either, other than as a guide for what you can achieve, rather than dictating what you should do.

Seems a sensible approach with the OP in that you want it to be reproducible to you, which is the most important thing rather than making FTP a willy waving number.

I like the ramp test as a training tool (although actually find the 20min test more enjoyable). I agree should look at 15W or 20W jumps though. I used to do 20W tried 15W last time and got slightly lower number which suspect is more accurate compared to others I’ve heard of, and part reason why I used to overestimate.
Might have helped if I’d actually remembered to attach the link to my previous post🤭

Having slept on the advice so far and done a bit more digging today I think I’m going to change to something that more closely resembles the TR test for a couple of reasons:

  1. My software works on % of FTP so it would be a bit of a faff to tweak things to get the 25W per minute each time. 6% of FTP each minute I can just program and it will look after itself.
  2. The TR test seems to be the most popular option so any discussions/learnings in relation tot hat will apply to my own tests too.
  3. Despite the steps suggested in the article I linked too, I agree, 25W does seem like a big jump so 6% will give me something around 15W that sounds more manageable. I will be using Erg mode.

My only question then is that the test will change each time you perform it (assuming FTP changes) so is that consistent (as it’s a consistent relationship to your FTP) or do you lose something by not completing exactly the same test each time?

Set your FTP to 100w before the test, then use 5% of FTP steps every 12s

The ideal is a smooth ramp (hence the name) but small incremental steps like this are the next best thing. I’m trying it this evening eek

The first Ramp Test I did was on a ‘Kingcycle’ back in about '92. I think that was 3 min blocks at set wattages; you had to keep the ‘crosshair’ on a monitor within the middle portion of a scale. You used your own bike on it, but I think the flywheel just increased resistance every 3 mins. Dunno, it was nearly 30 years ago now :flushed: I topped out at 330w iirc.