Ramp Test and Breakthroughs

Hi All,
I heard Armando say on FB a while ago that Ramp test is not a good test of fitness or a bad way to get a breakthrough. I am paraphrasing here. Apologies if I mischaracterized it. Anyone know why? I kind of like the Trainerroad Ramp test. It escalates your watts every minute until failure.

I actually used it (before being advised not to) to try and get my first breakthrough. I’m a new Xert user migrating over from TrainerRoad and was used to ramp tests as well. It worked enough for me to get started, but I think I might explore something different on my next BT attempt.

A breakthrough workout/ride in Xert is looking for changes in your fitness signature which is comprised of three components – PP (peak power), HIE (high intensity energy), and TP (threshold power).
Details at: http://baronbiosys.com/your-fitness-signature/
Search the workout library for “breakthrough”. There are a few RAMP tests there too (search for “ramp”).
Notice how BT workouts in Xert are a combination of performance efforts similar to a group ride that includes some hammering and a sprint or a Zwift race – all good BT workouts.
A RAMP test OTOH is focused on FTP estimation only which doesn’t really tell you the full story. For example, why someone with a lower FTP can outperform someone with higher FTP. Of course W/kg is something to consider too. :slight_smile:
I occasionally use a RAMP test to see where I’m at in comparison, but what I really learned from doing so was Xert got me as fit as the other services that rely on RAMP tests. Actually I’ve gotten a few pts higher FTP on Xert. The other platforms might have taken me there too, but I got burned out following cookie-cutter plans. I much prefer Xert’s ebb and flow with constant recalculation of your signature after every ride or lack thereof (signature decay).

@ridgerider2 I know the principles of a BT. :slight_smile: I like Xert for the analysis. Their recommendation algorithm and workouts are a bit lacking. For instance, I am deep into build and all it does is recommend LTP workouts at 110 watts. So, I started doing TR workouts. I am getting fitter doing TR’s Endurance, Vo2Max and SS workouts. I will do a BT workout again soon though.

IME I don’t feel as challenged in Xert (compared to other services/plans I have tried) until Peak phase.
There is no question that many cyclists respond well to SST, but Xert is a hybrid polarized platform. The rates of improvement will differ.
More SS and VO2 max workouts during build will no doubt boost your fitness level faster. When those workouts are synced with Xert you should see the change in training load reflected in your signature and XSS recommendations.
I purposely select a BT workout every few weeks or whenever warned to by XATA.
I normally do BTs in resistance mode on a trainer and try to go all out during the efforts.
For a classic FTP test search the workout library for “ftp test”.
Want to challenge yourself? Search the library for “hardness” and try completing them in order (over weeks) starting with whatever diamond level you’re at now.
Want more VO2 workouts? Search for “vo2”.
IOW you don’t need to strictly accept recommended workouts when you feel especially fresh or want a challenge. Xert is flexible.
As to your original question see: Ramp Test
A RAMP test is a one-dimensional snapshot that roughly estimates your FTP on that day.


Thanks @ridgerider2 for the input. :slight_smile: Very helpful. I was wondering if I would be detraining doing LTP workouts.

The workout recommendations will depend on your athlete type. If you have your athlete type selected as century rider or triathlete (1+ hour focus duration), of course you’re not going to see any recommendations for VO2max/4-min focus workouts, since your athlete type doesn’t demand those types of efforts. Further, I would bet that you’re seeing your training load increase due to the increase in strain, especially low strain that you accumulate when following a SST plan. If your training plan progressively overloads your body (steady increases in volume, intensity, or both), you’re going to see improvements.

The key advantage to Xert is that it will always pick an appropriate starting point for you with a new training program, regardless of your training load. Think of it this way, if you go into a (canned) training program with a high amount of fitness and the first few weeks (or months) are actually a decrease in your volume, you’re missing out on potential improvement. Or conversely, if you’re not fit enough for a (canned) training program prior to starting, you’re setting yourself up for overtraining and/or overuse injury.

To get back to your original point…a ramp test assumes that everyone’s PP, HIE, and TP are in the same proportion (well, it doesn’t know about PP or HIE at all, but by ignoring them, it makes the assumption that everyone has the same capacity for work above TP). There are hundreds, thousands of different combinations of TP, HIE, and PP that can result in failure at a particular part of a ramp test. The test itself cannot tell us what combination was needed to get to that point, because everyone follows the same pattern. In other words, the pattern of fatigue is unnatural. At what point ever while racing do you increase your power by 30W/min until you fail? Never! So why test that way?
Think about it this way… we don’t care how you get to that failure point (from either a ramp test or an 8/20 min test), but how you respond after hitting that failure point will tell is so so so much more about your fitness than simply holding 300W for 20 min. As mentioned above, this is why many of our workouts feature various different intensities that are meant to simulate various efforts that you may experience out on the road and they should be done in slope mode, so its easier for the system to track how you fatigue as MPA declines.
Finally (more of a modeling thing, but still relevant), the more data points that are “near” MPA, the better the resulting fit will be for your fitness signature. Ramp/FTP tests will only have a few small seconds where your power and MPA meet, from which the system can extract a fitness signature. If we can get MPA close to your power multiple times (or for an extended period of time), the resulting fitness signature will be much more accurate.

Hope this makes sense! Cheers


Yikes. Things now make a lot more sense. Thanks @ManofSteele.
BTw, I am a “Breakaway” (aka 5 min power) athlete in Xert.

"If you have your athlete type selected as century rider or triathlete (1+ hour focus duration), of course you’re not going to see any recommendations for VO2max/4-min focus workouts, since your athlete type doesn’t demand those types of efforts. "

I get this. BUT isn’t some kind of vo2max work beneficial for all kind of riders? Should you not sparkle in a vo2max workout every now and then in ANY phase? Especially as an amateur who doesn’t do 12+ hours/week during base?
Please don’t tell me “you can do so, if you wish so” :slight_smile:
I wonder, why xata would not recommend a vo2max workout if I’m a “sprint time trialist”, since every science from seiler to ronnestad etc states that vo2max is beneficial to every athlete type.

I don’t mean to be harsh, I really like xert and made the transition from an other program, but I’m a little concerned about the little vo2max, too …

In Joe Friels book “Fast after fifty”, he recommends a vo2max session once every 7 to 9 days all year round for the older athletes.

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If you’re focusing on 20 minute power (Sprint Time Triallist) then you’ll get Sprint Time Triallist workouts in the Peak Phase, building towards these in the Build phase. We don’t call these VO2max since there is no such thing as VO2max in Xert. We don’t inject any biases into the system based on an interpretation of physiology. It’s all based on numbers. If you want to make your 20 minute power go up then we say you should train your 20 minute power. Whether that influences VO2max or various other physiological markers isn’t something we assess or identify.

Similar applies to other athletes. What you recognize though is that even though we say a Century Rider has a 2 hour focus that most rides/races that an athlete will do rarely falls on the 2 hour Focus. There is always a mix of low, high and peak strain in most all rides. Interpreting that relative contribution is something that isn’t simple but the concept of Focus (and Specificity Rating) helps interpret and therefore helps you understand how all workouts you do influence your ability to perform in these events.

Hope this helps.

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