Performing a good ramp test is a crucial first step to high-quality structured training. Use these tips to get the most accurate results possible and keep your training on track.
For more training tips and information on the Ramp Test check out Ask a Cycling Coach Ep 249.
What is the Ramp Test?
You’ll complete a Ramp Test at the start of each training block. This test is designed to accurately evaluate your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) so that your workouts are tailored to your personal fitness and your power.
This workout has a five minute warm up followed by an indefinite amount of one-minute long intervals. Each interval incrementally increases in intensity by six percent. Your goal is to follow the power target as closely as possible for as long as you psychically can. When you reach your limit and you can’t pedal any longer, stop pedaling, and the test is done.
How to Test Accurately
The Ramp Test is designed to evaluate your FTP as accurately as possible so that your training is proportionate to your fitness. Keeping this value up to date keeps your training challenging enough to promote adaptation, but not so challenging that your workouts are too difficult.
The key to effectively completing a Ramp Test, and getting an accurate result, is to absolutely empty the tank. This means pedaling until you are completely exhausted and can no longer pedal.
How to Prepare for the Ramp Test
The best way to prepare for a Ramp Test is to implement all of the good habits you are able to consistently do before your other workouts. Keeping your Ramp Test preparation consistent with your regular preparation guarantees that your results will be in alignment with your power on most training days.
Aim For Consistency
Your preparation for a Ramp Test should be the same as your preparation for any other workout. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do before a regular training session.
- Calibrate your trainer or your power meter before you test.
- Maintain the typical cadence you use in the majority of your TrainerRoad workouts.
- Hydrate and fuel like you normally would and avoid taking in any performance boosting fuel or supplements that you might only use on race days.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t put your best foot forward when you test. When you have a Ramp Test, make sure you get a full night’s rest, fuel properly and hydrate sufficiently before your workout
Do I Need to Do Openers?
You don’t need to do any openers prior to starting your Ramp Test. While doing some openers is a great way to psychologically prepare your system for hard efforts, we intentionally designed the Ramp Test to not require any additional form of preparation.
While openers are typically reserved for races, you should think of openers in terms of anything else you do in preparation for your test- if you can’t consistently implement it before every workout then there’s no need to do it before your Ramp Test.
Do I Need a Warm Up?
You also don’t need to do an extra warm up before you start the Ramp Test. In fact, we tested for the need of a warmup when creating the Ramp Test and found it to not alter the results in a meaningful way with this specific testing protocol.
Moreover, the test has a warm up integrated into the test. Not only do the first five minutes serve as a warm up but the first few steps in the Ramp Test are also apart of your warm up. Don’t worry about warming up before hand and just jump right in!
Accuracy is Your Goal
Keep in mind that getting an accurate FTP is more important than getting a new personal record. We’ve gone to great lengths to make overestimation nearly impossible, but if you “gamed” the test in any way and overestimate that score, that new FTP won’t be helpful. In the long term, getting an accurate FTP is what promotes adaptation and pushes your training plan forward.
While you should feel rested going into a Ramp Test, you might not always feel your best. This isn’t just normal though – it’s also okay! Your Ramp Test isn’t a priority event or a workout that demands a high level of freshness. This workout is an opportunity to get an accurate FTP and improve the efficacy of your training.
Build Good Habits
If you want to impact the growth of your FTP, turn your attention to the habits that affect all of your workouts. What you do before your other workouts is what you should do before your tests. For more information on building habits that grow FTP you can read this article here.
For more cycling training knowledge, listen to the Ask a Cycling Coach — the only podcast dedicated to making you a faster cyclist. New episodes are released weekly.
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