More and more cyclists in general, and triathletes in particular, are using Zwift to determine their FTP (Functional Threshold Power). Not surprisingly, since Zwift offers four different tests that allow you to determine your FTP pretty accurately. But what exactly are the differences between the four tests and which FTP test on Zwift will give you the most accurate results?
This is the original and thus “standard” FTP test and with it you also have the longest one: 73 minutes the FTP test takes to complete completely. Your FTP is determined by a twenty-minute block of ‘free ride’, in which you push as hard as possible and thus as much wattage as possible. From the average wattage you pedal over those twenty minutes, 95% is taken and that number constitutes your FTP. Before you start the twenty minutes, you first do a (pretty tough) warm-up, including three serious tempo blocks.
This standard FTP test is considered the most strenuous and challenging – twenty minutes of full-on riding is anything but easy – but it also provides the most accurate FTP.
FTP Test (shorter)
This shorter version of the FTP Test takes 45 minutes: the warm-up and cooldown are shorter, but you still need to ride a twenty-minute block at full power to determine your FTP. Again, 95% of the average wattage you ride during these twenty minutes constitutes your final FTP.
The FTP Test (shorter) is suitable for athletes who have just a little less time, but still want the most accurate representation of their FTP.
The Ramp Test is even shorter – about twenty minutes – and starts out simple: at just 100 watts for only one minute. It then ramps up the wattage per minute: twenty watts are added every sixty seconds. This goes on and on until you can no longer sustain the wattage. Therefore, the last few minutes of the Ramp Test can feel deadly.
At the end of the test, 75% of the wattage of the last minute you were able to maintain in completeness is taken: that number constitutes your FTP. The FTP that rolls out of this test might be a little less accurate than with the FTP Test and FTP Test (shorter), mainly because athletes with high explosiveness, might hold out a little longer here compared to athletes who have mostly good endurance power.
Ramp Test Lite
The Ramp Test Lite is mainly intended for the bit more inexperienced cyclists, or athletes lighter than 60 kilo. Like the Ramp Test, the Ramp Test Lite starts easy and the wattage increases every minute: not by twenty watts per minute, but by ten watts per minute. In addition, the starting wattage is also somewhat lower.