Full Frontal v Ramp Test watt difference

This time last year, ahead of starting my 12 week plan, I did the full frontal and landed up with an FTP of 300w. My 5min effort was around 370w.

6 weeks into my plan, I did the ramp test and my FTP jumped to 320w and 5min to around 395w. I assumed this was the plan working well. I rode to these numbers for workouts the rest of the year and they felt about right. I didn’t do any sustained efforts over 20mins. And while all workouts were doable and my HR matched what I was feeling from them efforts - including base rides at 60-65% of that 320w FTP, I never felt I could hold that 320w for 45-60min if I had to.

Today I took the Full Frontal again. I maxed out on the 5min effort, scoring 386w. I set out to target 320w for the 20min test but felt I’d stick to around 310w the first 5mins then build into it. But after 5mins I was suffering at 310w and by 10mins I was trending below 300w and I couldn’t go on. Had to pack it. Could be simply a bad day, could be not fueling well (test was done somewhat spur of the moment) or could be lack of good sleep lately. But any theories on my seeming inability to top 300w in the 20min test after that 5min effort, but getting 320w for the ramp test, while feeling my workouts are good based around the 320w mark (I do 10 min Z3 efforts and my HR is often still in Z2)? Is it that my efforts in them workouts are based more on MAP and my 320w FTP from the ramp test is just too high as a realistic hour of power number and I should be targeting 300w for my FTP or even a shade lower (though then my 10min Z3 efforts my HR will be lower in HR Z2)? I have a feeling I do well in the ramp test as I can mentally grind out each increasing minute better than I can mentally sit at high effort for 20mins?

Perhaps I will do the ramp test in the coming days and see how it compares. Apologies for the long winded post!


It’s a known and common issue for some. Both test methods are very different, both are estimating numbers based on a protocol, and the whole reason Systm has 4dp, is because everyone’s different in strengths and weaknesses.

If the ramp of HM Works best for you and you can live with the numbers during workouts, then stick with HM.

But that may mean you find certain workouts like High Time with a very long sustained FTP block really challenging. Horses for courses


Yes. The real test of whether ftp is correct is ftp workouts. Shoukd be very achievable at first, hard towards the end.

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Lack of sleep/preparation (including mental) leading up to FF will have had an impact. Also aiming too high and having to drop down. You don’t know what would have happened if you’d started off aiming for 210W. You might have been able to stay there if you hadn’t had 5 mins at 220W.

I’m always tempted to rest and then re-test if you can make it work for your plans.

I had a suboptimal FF 4 weeks ago (wasn’t rested enough and legs threatened to cramp 4 minutes into the 5 minute effort). I did 9 hammers and it wasn’t tough enough so I increased MAP by 2% and FTP by 4% and did several workouts, including AVDP and a few FTP oriented workouts, which were hard but doable. I did HM yesterday and MAP was up 10% and FTP was up 13%, which is unrealistic. I’m an attacker/pursuiter and I think there is data that people who are more anaerobicly inclined get overestimates on ramp tests. I’m going to adjust my numbers to 5% over my FF and see how the next several workouts go and adjust from there.

You nailed it with the mental strength. The full frontal is tough on the brain and body. The Ramp is really a test for riders who can’t complete the FF, because of health issues, or not in very good shape, but need a rough starting point. Also if your ftp is 300w you’re gonna be making minimal gains. The 4 numbers are for training purposes only. Try riding 300w for an hour. I don’t do the Ramp test in a plan, as I know the numbers will give a false improvement.

You’re right about 300w for an hour. I’d be struggling to hold that. Though I’d last longer doing 30-45 at 300w than my previous FTP (from ramp) of 320w. But therein lies my curiosity:

If I did a tempo session today, say 3 x 10 min at 85% FTP - On my 300w FTP, I’d barely get out of Z2 heart-rate until the very back end of those efforts. At my 320w FTP, I’d still spend the first 5min in Z2. I understand there isn’t an exact cross-over from power to HR zones as there’s 7 of one, 5 of the other, and perhaps the truth is, 10 min at 85% shouldn’t be overly taxing, but I feel like I could do them comfortably enough against 320w, never mind 300w. Should they in reality be ‘easier’ than I am assuming?

I’ll likely do a ramp this week to see how it stands up, then do the 4DP again a week later. If there’s still a good 20w discrepancy, I’ll stick with the 4DP number, even if lower.

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Sorry for misrepresenting your 3xxW numbers for 2xxW numbers. Obviously need new specs :eyeglasses: (and must remember there are people much quicker than me)

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haha not a problem. The numbers are just numbers, your point was still well taken.

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The longer efforts are, for some, more mentally challenging than the ramp test.

My understanding is that your anaerobic power can contribute to your ramp result which may inflate the ftp result which is why 4DP makes you do the MAP bit.

I’m quite the opposite with the ramp test vs. the 4DP test.

I did the the much dreaded ramp test on the 3rd and the results were less than the numbers I had been using. I did Full Frontal today (the 7th) and increased all of the numbers with a 13% increase over the ramp test “ftp” result or a 6% increase over the number I had been using.

For me, the ramp test does not work - perhaps its (I’m?)mental but I prefer the 4DP.

Long story short; I’d pick a method and use it consistently.

Good luck.


Yep. FTP is defined as a maximal 1hr effort and any other test that purports to measure FTP is based on comparing the results of that test to actual 1hr tests over some sample of riders. That’s good for the average of the sample, but individual riders will differ. And indviduals that lie outside the characteristics of that sample (age, gender, experience, etc.) will differ more. So, it’s best to “pick a method and use it consistently.”

FWIW, the method I like takes a week. It’s the 7 day test prep plan with a HM on day three and FF on day 7. This gives a consistent lead in to the FF and the HM is used to set suggested targets for the FF on day 7, which makes it much easier to pace. I try to just beat those targets and it’s killer.

And for me, the old 20-minute (not Full Frontal) test I multiplied by 0.92 to arrive at a value I knew would take me a full 59 minute 40K TT effort. Not sure if the Full Frontal result is for 40K these days buy I may give it a go.

For some folks… I abhor the Half Monty; I will always use a longer test; just suits my diesel style. Now, if I could only convince the BMX folks to make it a 10-mile track.

Umm except it’s not 1hr power.
FTP is defined as functional threshold power, that threshold being the second aerobic threshold when lactate concentrations begins to rise rapidly. Time to exhaustion at FTP varies between individuals, can be as little as 30 minutes some may be able to do 70 minutes or more.


Wasn’t life easier though back when 60 min power = ftp? A simpler time!


the simplicity is one thing, but really does it matter? Every estimated measure of what people like to call FTP is just that, an estimate, no mater the test. The key thing is to choose some test and do it exactly the same from time to time and see how things change. At the end of that try to figure out if the change is meaningful, and why? It could be the first time you paced wrong, or some other mistake, another you were tired or fatigued? etc etc etc… after a while you get better at taking the test is that really a physiological change? So it is interesting people put so much faith in an estimate that is probably no better than a good guess. Each test is unique, ramp, half monty, full month, 2x 8 minute 2 x 10 minute, 20 minute, 1 hour TT etc. none are right none are wrong all are just estimates. Choose one and worry less, because FTP is not real it is just a concept.


Yep. But it does have it’s value in the 7 day test prep plan. Rather than think of it as a test, it’s just a workout in prep for the FF, and of course it’s very helpful for the FF in setting the suggested targets to help pace the FF.

True. Very good point. At FTP, lactate level remains constant, and anything above that, it starts to inexorably increase. AFAIK, the 1hr test is still the gold standard in the absence of lactate testing.

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No disagreement here, it has some value.

For me, I’m different. For nobody that has done a test, or those that dont care for long intervals, its a way to calibrate your workouts.

I use the term calibrate for those folks that get “test” anxiety.

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Thats a simple as it gets.

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