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Odd Results

Old 02-17-22, 12:16 PM
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Odd Results

I signed up for the free trial of Wahoo's SYSTM, and completed their "Half Monty" test last Friday. This is a somewhat more sophisticated version of a ramp test for FTP. There's a ramp section done in Erg Mode, followed by a 20 minute sub-FTP effort done in Level Mode, where your goal is to maintain your HR in a narrow range they select based on your maximum 1 minute HR from the Ramp. I did a gentle 10 warm up then proceeded with the test, which has its own 10 minute warmup. On the ramp, I crapped out a few seconds into the 333w step, hitting an HR of 170 with a 1 minute max of 169. For the 20 minute effort, I was given a target HR range of 144-150, which I managed with an average power of 171w.

The results were: MAP = 300w, FTP = 228. This was a good 28 w lower than the last Zwift Ramp Test I did. I have been taking it a bit easier over the winter, but not laying off entirely, so that didn't seem right.

So, last night I did the test again. This time, I did the SYSTM "Igniter" warmup, which has a bit more structure and a couple hard efforts. Then I did the Half Monty again. This time I crapped out at the start of 346 w, once again hitting an HR of 170 with the same 1 minute max of 169. I was given the same HR range for the 20 minute effort, but this time I had to put out an average of 199 w to keep my HR in the same range.

The results: MAP = 313 w, FTP = 250. That's much more in line with what I'd gotten from previous FTP tests. But what struck me was the difference in HR relative to effort. Over the ramp, the HR curves look almost identical, but I pushed 13 w higher. That's one thing. But the more dramatic difference is the 20 minute effort, where I produced 28 w higher average power, with the same average HR!

I'm not sure what to make of it. The ramp section 'felt' the same, but the 20 minute effort felt significantly harder the second time - which it should. But the HRs were the same. The 4 days before the first test were pretty light, whereas the 4 days before the test last night included a hard effort on a Tour de Zwift makeup stage, and the next day a 57 mile ride IRL. Anyhow, it seems odd to me.
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Old 02-17-22, 01:27 PM
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It's simple: HR varies. What a weird test - I don't get it. If you want your FTP, hard warm up, do 20' on, 10' easy, 20' on, with the on intervals as hard as you can hold for 20'. Takes practice. Then take 95% of the best 20' average for FTP. Ignore your HR. That's the great thing about power - you're measuring effort not its physiological effect which can vary quite a bit. You could also take the max steady power you can hold for 2 hours, divide by .75. Or you could just ride as hard as you can for an hour and use that. I think it's too easy to get faked into using too high an FTP and thus doing all your workouts at too high a level and crapping out after a couple weeks of that. FTP isn't an ego thing, it's a way to keep you from overdoing it.

If you want to use HR, you need to find your LTHR which will be about at your FTP or ride continuously at what you think your FTP is and see if you go over LTHR and have your legs fail from lactate buildup.
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Old 02-17-22, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
It's simple: HR varies. What a weird test - I don't get it. If you want your FTP, hard warm up, do 20' on, 10' easy, 20' on, with the on intervals as hard as you can hold for 20'. Takes practice. Then take 95% of the best 20' average for FTP. Ignore your HR. That's the great thing about power - you're measuring effort not its physiological effect which can vary quite a bit. You could also take the max steady power you can hold for 2 hours, divide by .75. Or you could just ride as hard as you can for an hour and use that. I think it's too easy to get faked into using too high an FTP and thus doing all your workouts at too high a level and crapping out after a couple weeks of that. FTP isn't an ego thing, it's a way to keep you from overdoing it.

If you want to use HR, you need to find your LTHR which will be about at your FTP or ride continuously at what you think your FTP is and see if you go over LTHR and have your legs fail from lactate buildup.
Ramp tests are widely used for FTP. SYSTM adds the 20 minute subthreshold effort, ostensibly to 'refine' the FTP estimate. I think ramp tests are good for cyclists like me who haven't ever tried to do a 20 minute FTP test, and so have no experience with pacing etc. I used to use HR to train exclusively, till I got a Smart Trainer and started using power, but only on the trainer.

The one thing I'd say is the RPE was pretty much the same for the two ramp tests, both of which I stopped at the same 'feeling', but one was significantly higher power. Anyway, I found it an odd observation, such a difference in power at the same HR, and over a long enough interval to be 'real'.

FTP is also a way to keep you from UNDERdoing it.
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Old 02-17-22, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Ramp tests are widely used for FTP. SYSTM adds the 20 minute subthreshold effort, ostensibly to 'refine' the FTP estimate. I think ramp tests are good for cyclists like me who haven't ever tried to do a 20 minute FTP test, and so have no experience with pacing etc. I used to use HR to train exclusively, till I got a Smart Trainer and started using power, but only on the trainer.

The one thing I'd say is the RPE was pretty much the same for the two ramp tests, both of which I stopped at the same 'feeling', but one was significantly higher power. Anyway, I found it an odd observation, such a difference in power at the same HR, and over a long enough interval to be 'real'.

FTP is also a way to keep you from UNDERdoing it.
They're widely used as the actual tool to measure it is too difficult for most mortals to ever complete......the 40k TT or an hour all out. Since nobody can bear to do that all the time, ramps and estimates.

It's widely used not because it's super super accurate, it's because it's an easy proxy.

The thing about the sweetspot or tempo or whatever effort they do after, that characterization can depend a whole lot on genetics and also on HOW you're routinely riding the bike.

If it works for you good. Just be consistent. That's what matters, consistency.

If not, the best indicator of performance is performance itself.

Either way, with "ftp" and percentage based workouts if you "know" your body you can adjust the workouts as you go and even during the workout.

Too many people accept as gospel the test result then chew bar tape and cuss and swear and miss workout goals and targets that are set too high (or easy).

Try some workouts with either, and adjust a little bit as you go. If a workout goes too easy and you're afraid to adjust mid workout.......add a set. If a workout is too hard, cut some % mid workout OR cut out a set. Then get it right the next try by adjusting the ftp setting by that bit.
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Old 02-17-22, 05:16 PM
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Yeah, I've had the experience of doing workouts with the FTP bias set too low, AND too high. Just last night, during SYSTM's "Igniter" warmup workout, there were segments they were describing as hard that felt pretty darn easy, which I ascribe to SYSTM having set the FTP bias to 228. Based on previous experience, the 250 w number should be about right. My goal is to finish the workouts, but only just, rather than getting to the end and feeling like I have a lot left. I should stagger up the steps from the garage humbled, rather than either leaping up them or having to be helped up them.
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Old 02-17-22, 06:58 PM
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How is a warmup "hard" at all? Nothing of a warmup should be "hard". You might tickle a higher zone than z2 for a bit or add some cadence variability........but the goal is to warmup, not waste time in zone in an inefficient manner.

Also, it isn't just about today's workout. It's about tomorrow's recovery and the repeat on the next one. If you cannot accumulate routine time in zone across workouts, staggering from the bike might not do any favors.

What these systems assume most folks don't actually do, is to actually get into "specificity" around your target events. All this talk of time triallists, climbers, roullers, sprinters, pursuiters.......what % of people subscribing to this are actually dedicated time triallists or pursuiters? If someone cannot specify an event and demands, just target group ride or fondo durations and as much ftp as you can grab.

In your case, no, you shouldn't limp up stairs after a workout. If so, rarely. And likely in a lower volume higher specificity VO2 focus. You ought to be able to do ftp work pretty routinely.
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Old 02-18-22, 02:20 AM
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Gotta disagree with you about the warmup, especially before a big effort, based on my own experience. YMMV, but I'll trust my own experience for my own training.

And, no, of course EVERY workout shouldn't leave you weak in the knees, but if you don't get that from at least SOME of your workouts, you're not going to get any faster.
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Old 02-18-22, 12:01 PM
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I'm not sure what either of you are saying about warm ups. but for me, I don't do them. I just get on the bike and ride. The only thing going really hard in the first five minutes of a ride has done is to keep me from going hard during the second five minutes.

I do find now that I have a PM that I can put out more power for longer intervals IE, 60 second power, after I've been riding for over 90 minutes than I can after only 20 minutes on the bike. And even before getting a PM I was finding that some of my PR's were also after riding for quite a while.

So if warm up is 60 to 90 minutes of riding, then I guess I am doing a warm up.
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Old 02-18-22, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I'm not sure what either of you are saying about warm ups. but for me, I don't do them. I just get on the bike and ride. The only thing going really hard in the first five minutes of a ride has done is to keep me from going hard during the second five minutes.

I do find now that I have a PM that I can put out more power for longer intervals IE, 60 second power, after I've been riding for over 90 minutes than I can after only 20 minutes on the bike. And even before getting a PM I was finding that some of my PR's were also after riding for quite a while.

So if warm up is 60 to 90 minutes of riding, then I guess I am doing a warm up.
This is very much what I'm talking about.

During the week, because of time constraints, I can only ride on the trainer, indoors, and then I have a maximum 90 window. Obviously, I can't really do a 60 minute fitness test with a 60 minute warmup in only 90 minutes. So, the warmup has to accomplish that, what 60 minutes of riding on the road would do for me, in 20 minutes - not just warming up the muscles, but priming the cardiovascular system. The warmup workout I mentioned has brief efforts that ramp up from 50% of FTP to 100% of FTP, a 30 second effort at about 110% of FTP, and a couple 'sprints' at 150% and one at about 200% of FTP, but those are literally 8 second efforts. They get the system warmed and humming along, without burning any matches.

I tried once, doing a ramp test with only 10-15 minutes of light spinning as a warmup, no more than 80% of FTP. In the test, when my HR entered the high 150s, I felt sick. Not like throwing up, just distinctly unwell, and I bailed on the ramp way early. I'd had a similar experience one time, trying to set a new PM on a 5 mile segment with no warmup. I figured I'd warm up within the effort, since the start was flat with a nice little dip after half a mile. I was on pace to beat that PR, when, as my HR entered the high 150s, I had felt that same 'unwell' feeling. I slowed down, missed the PR by a couple seconds. It only took a minute or two for me to feel fine again pedaling at lower power, so I kept on with the ride. Later in the ride, I was pushing hard up a slight gradient where I like to go hard, and ran my HR up to 170 with no problem - going up a similar gradient to the one where I'd felt sick at 150-something.

So, after that experience on the ramp test, the next week, I did a separate warmup of about 20 minutes including some efforts above FTP and a hard, but brief sprint, and I had no problem driving past the 150s. Lesson learned - warmup, for me at least, has to be more than just 20 minutes of spinning below FTP.
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Old 02-18-22, 01:29 PM
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Yeah, I don't know what it is that is important for warming up, if that is what we are going to call it for any type of test of performance measure. Many of the rides I had in the past pre-PM where I had a PR for some segment at the end don't seem to have any rhyme or reason for the level of effort I put out prior to that segment. Some I rode at varying efforts up to that PR and others I rode at a steady but fairly low for me effort. Usually a common factor was that I hadn't ridden in week or more.

It's only since X-mas when I gave myself a PM that I've been noting that similarly to the PR rides that I'll also show my maximum sustained powers later in the ride. Even though it might be a segment I hit hard several times during the same ride.

I did do the garmin FTP test on my Edge 530, it seemed too easy. But maybe it's because it doesn't have enough data for me yet. And certainly for me I've only done a pitiful amount of rides since X-mas so I'm glad it was easy.

If you are doing this on a trainer then I have no way to compare or comprehend that. I still only use a trainer seldom and just to keep my cadence and HR high for a hour or so. Usually with next to nothing for resistance. I don't even turn my Garmin on for them.

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Old 02-18-22, 01:37 PM
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I can ride the same route a couple times a week on the road and not get bored. In fact, at least half of my long Sunday rides in the last 6 months have been on exactly the same 54 mile route. Some parts I dawdle, some parts I push hard, and I don't feel the need to ride with any goals in mind.

BUT, on the trainer, even with something like Zwift, I get bored without goals. So, a structured workout, or a race, or some kind of event - those all give me a goal, so I don't get bored. It makes it enjoyable, but mostly my goal is to avoid the decline in fitness and accompanying increase in fatness that usually happens during the Rainy And Dark Early season here in CA.
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Old 02-18-22, 01:56 PM
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I had been watching cyclocross races on YouTube while I pedal away on the trainer. They seem to last for the amount of time I want to be on a trainer and they seem to be a good distraction to keep my mind from realizing I'm going nowhere!

I suppose zwift or the other cycling simulator stuff would be great, but so far I'm not ready for that. One of my sons is doing zwift.
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Old 02-18-22, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
I had been watching cyclocross races on YouTube while I pedal away on the trainer. They seem to last for the amount of time I want to be on a trainer and they seem to be a good distraction to keep my mind from realizing I'm going nowhere!

I suppose zwift or the other cycling simulator stuff would be great, but so far I'm not ready for that. One of my sons is doing zwift.
The last time I did a ramp test on Zwift, as I got to the higher power levels, I started concentrating on chasing down and dropping other riders on Zwift as a goal/distraction. I have a feeling I could do better on the SYSTM ramp test with that sort of visual, instead of watching the time at a really hard power level tick down till the start of an even harder power level.
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Old 02-18-22, 05:46 PM
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I suspect your different results are due to your differing warm-up routines. If I'm doing an FTP test then I need a good solid 20 mins of progressive warm-up time and I need to be feeling reasonably fresh. The Gold standard test on SYSTM is the "Full Frontal" 4DP test, but it is brutal! I've done both several times and had consistent results between them for FTP. As you might expect, the ramp test has more chance of throwing up an odd result. But it's less painful to perform and you don't need to be quite so fresh. On the SYSTM forum many users report that the ramp test tends to over-estimate their FTP, but for me it has been pretty accurate (relative to the 4DP test).

I presume your room temperature and cooling fans etc were all set up the same for both tests?
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Old 02-18-22, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
I suspect your different results are due to your differing warm-up routines. If I'm doing an FTP test then I need a good solid 20 mins of progressive warm-up time and I need to be feeling reasonably fresh. The Gold standard test on SYSTM is the "Full Frontal" 4DP test, but it is brutal! I've done both several times and had consistent results between them for FTP. As you might expect, the ramp test has more chance of throwing up an odd result. But it's less painful to perform and you don't need to be quite so fresh. On the SYSTM forum many users report that the ramp test tends to over-estimate their FTP, but for me it has been pretty accurate (relative to the 4DP test).
I was thinking of doing the Full Frontal test, but watching a couple videos from much more serious cyclists than me, where they said "This is the worst thing I've ever done!" were a little off-putting. Plus, I have no experience in trying to pace a 20 minute effort, for example. If I decide to stick with SYSTM or go back to it sometime later, I will first spend the time working on executing a 20 minute FTP test, not to mention the 1 and 5 minute 'all out' tests. Just not all in one day. Once I can do EACH of those satisfactorily, I can try doing ALL of them.

I presume your room temperature and cooling fans etc were all set up the same for both tests?
Same bike; freshly spindown calibrated trainer both times; room temp probably within a couple degrees; same time of day; same fan set up, both blowing on high; same attire (jersey pulled off before ramp test started); same old fat guy in the saddle.
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Old 02-19-22, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
I was thinking of doing the Full Frontal test, but watching a couple videos from much more serious cyclists than me, where they said "This is the worst thing I've ever done!" were a little off-putting. Plus, I have no experience in trying to pace a 20 minute effort, for example. If I decide to stick with SYSTM or go back to it sometime later, I will first spend the time working on executing a 20 minute FTP test, not to mention the 1 and 5 minute 'all out' tests. Just not all in one day. Once I can do EACH of those satisfactorily, I can try doing ALL of them.



Same bike; freshly spindown calibrated trainer both times; room temp probably within a couple degrees; same time of day; same fan set up, both blowing on high; same attire (jersey pulled off before ramp test started); same old fat guy in the saddle.
Yeah, the FF test is not something to take on lightly! I've done it 3 times in the last 12 months and that is enough for me. I now just tweak my profile numbers up and down to suit as I've got a good feel for where my numbers lie. I really like SYSTM as a training platform. It makes interval training more entertaining while still providing focused structure. I've been using it as the core of my structured training regime for just over a year now. I keep looking across at TrainerRoad, but I don't think it would be as much fun (or any fun at all!). Although I think their seasonal planning tool is better. With SYSTM you have to build your own season around their canned plans and building blocks, which is okay but involves a bit more thinking. I prefer how TrainerRoad builds a custom plan around all your planned A,B,C events. Before SYSTM I was using plans bought from Training Peaks to fit my events. I found those quite effective, but again not very inspirational. SYSTM are great at making a structured interval session both interesting and engaging.
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Old 02-19-22, 02:36 PM
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Just do a 40-50 minute TT on Zwift. Warm up for 30-40 minutes with one 2 minute threshold effort about 15 minutes before the start of the race. Hold 240 watts for the first 20 minutes. If you feel good, bump it to 250 to the line. Should give you close enough result for government work.
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Old 02-19-22, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Just do a 40-50 minute TT on Zwift. Warm up for 30-40 minutes with one 2 minute threshold effort about 15 minutes before the start of the race. Hold 240 watts for the first 20 minutes. If you feel good, bump it to 250 to the line. Should give you close enough result for government work.
I held 219 for 77 minutes last night on Alpe du Zwift, does that count?
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Old 02-27-22, 10:07 AM
  #19  
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Yeah, I don’t think any of this is odd at all, and Carbonfiberboy summed it up succinctly: HR varies. Further, the essential nature of sports performance is variability. The important thing is not wattage/HR variances between performances, but rather that your training is hard enough to force physiological adaptation and to allow you to recover and be fresh for peak performances when you want to do them. Training is not a straight line between where you were, are, and want to be, not ever.
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Old 02-27-22, 01:21 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by genejockey View Post
Gotta disagree with you about the warmup, especially before a big effort, based on my own experience. YMMV, but I'll trust my own experience for my own training.

And, no, of course EVERY workout shouldn't leave you weak in the knees, but if you don't get that from at least SOME of your workouts, you're not going to get any faster.
It's both personal and specific to what you're warming up for. But I think we agree on some things. Yeah, you do need some "breakthrough" workouts.

I cross race and time trial. The warmup is different for a cross race, for a 10mi TT, and for a 40k TT. By definition a 40k TT is your ftp. So you have to be careful warming up not to eat into what you need for the event. Sure, you'll do something to tickle the legs in a harder zone. But we're not pros doing an 8min long time trial prologue warming up pretty much at threshold. They can repeat those efforts multiple times a day for days on end during races. We cannot.

I guess what I was getting at is I see folks at events absolutely drenched in sweat on the trainer. I did a duathlon and saw a guy running warming up, he ran so hard in the warmup he went and threw up in the trees. Like, WTF. Just no on that "hard" of a warmup.

For a hard threshold workout or a TT longer than 20min, I pretty much do this:

-ramp from 140w to lower Z3 power over the course of about 8 to 10min
-alternate 30s on/off at lower Z2 and lower Z3 power with a "low" and a "high" cadence, for a couple minutes
-couple minutes back in lower z2

For a cross race or 10mi TT, I'll swap out the 30s on/off at low Z2 and low Z3 for low Z2 and upper Z4.

That's not a "hard" warmup. It's just enough to get me going. I'll start to get a little sweat, but it doesn't hurt nor do I soak myself in sweat.

I would say each microcycle of training you should have one "breakthrough" workout if you're in an ftp building or vo2 building mesocycle. So, basically one of your interval workouts per week. You should hit your targets without too much fuss on 'most' of them. But struggle to on one of them. Folks just have a really really bad habit of dream-casting about their ftp they use for training and what %'s they use of that for different workouts. They either use an ftp they "want" after the mesocycle to do workouts, OR they choose the upper % listed for the range for a workout.

Like, if a vo2 workout says 110-120%.......choosing 120% right off. That week do one or two at a % you hit, then make your breakthrough workout of the cycle the one you try to bust a gut on.
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