Ask The Experts: What is the Half Monty Ramp Test?

In order to reach your goals, you need to have a plan. This plan will be the blueprint that will lead you to your end success. The question is, where do you begin? In order to know how to get where you are going, you need to know where you are starting from. This starting point will be your North Star in any endurance pursuit. This is where you can begin to plan your training starting with both your strengths and weaknesses.

This is where cycling tests come into play. At SYSTM, we offer two different options when it comes to comprehensive bike testing: the 4DP Power Test and our updated Half Monty. While the 4DP is the most comprehensive cycling test to date, there is no secret completing it is a daunting task. If you are not familiar with pacing efforts, especially if you are just starting out, then the 4DP may not be the best fit. This is why the Sports Science team started looking at the “graded fitness test”—or ramp test—as a more approachable alternative.

With the release of Half Monty, we’ve redefined the traditional ramp test. Instead of just a  one-size-fits-all estimate of your sustained power, you now get accurate values for your Functional Threshold Power, Maximal Aerobic Power (power at VO2 Max), and Lactate Threshold Heart Rate.

Why Fix What Isn’t Broken? Or is it?

The inevitable question will arise: what then is wrong with existing ramp tests? To start, most traditional ramp tests only estimate your functional threshold power, or FTP. The problem? If you are a cyclist who isn’t focusing on FTP work, aka sprinters, then you need to find a test that takes into account more than just your sustained aerobic power.

Accuracy is another common issue with most ramp tests as well. Many tests will take 75% of your maximum 1-minute power during the test and refer to this as your FTP. If you find yourself to be more anaerobically gifted than aerobically gifted, this estimate can inflate your FTP making your workouts not as effective as they should be. Another accuracy issue is within the protocol itself: if you pause for even a few seconds during the ramp-to-failure, this can skew the results. With other tests, they do not have a way to verify that you did the test correctly. This in turn, makes the results inaccurate.

The Half Monty

Ramp tests have been used for years by coaches and training apps to help estimate an athlete’s sustained power or FTP.  The idea is simple: after a short warmup, the rider incrementally increases their power output every 60 seconds, working their way up each step of the ramp until they simply can’t hold the power target. Just go until you can’t, then stop.

The Half-Monty Ramp test will provide the following benchmarks:

Functional Threshold Power (FTP)

Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP)

Lactate Threshold Heart Rate (LTHR)

These metrics are then used to personalize the power and heart rate targets in your workouts so you get the most benefit out of the time you have to train.

Accuracy

Half Monty goes beyond a traditional ramp test by combining it with a 20-minute sub-maximal / tempo effort determined by your heart rate. By analyzing the relationship between heart rate and power, Half Monty allows The SYSTM app to calculate your FTP to a much higher degree of accuracy than any other ramp test out there. As stated previously, most other ramp tests take 75% of your peak 1-minute power to calculate your FTP. At SYSTM, we have conducted thousands of Full Frontal 4DP tests that have shown this simple formula does not take into account cyclists who are more anaerobically fit. This oversight results in an FTP that is inaccurate for about 17% of athletes.

So how does the Half Monty combat this? The Half-Monty takes the traditional ramp test and combines it with a 20-minute sub-maximal tempo effort that is governed by your heart rate. Using this analysis of heart rate and power, the SYSTM app is able to calculate your FTP to a higher degree of accuracy.

Precision

How will you know if the test results are valid if you are doing this alone? In a lab, you can have the convenience and reliability of sport scientists that will be able to validate a test, but at home you are alone. SYSTM’s sophisticated compliance algorithm and validation process can do the hard work for you. This validation process can identify whether or not you have performed the test properly. What does this mean? If you do not have a smart trainer that can set you in ERG mode, no problem. Our large set of data from Full Frontal 4DP test results allows us to use: gender, height, weight, and age to further validate and improve your result accuracy. This is even true if you perform the test without a heart rate monitor!

Adaptability

The SYSTM app monitors your performance during every section of the test and displays personalized text prompts on screen to update you on progress. This allows you to ensure that you are performing the tests properly for the most accurate results.

While there may be many imitators, SYSTM’s Half Monty ramp test stands alone as the most accurate ramp test.. By combining a traditional ramp test with a heart rate governed 20 minute sub-maximal tempo, SYSTM is able to analyze your FTP more precisely than any other ramp test on the market. Don’t take our word for it though, try it for yourself and see the difference.


Try the SYSTM Training App Free for 14-Days.


Mac Cassin is the Chief Cycling Physiologist at Wahoo Sports Science. He holds a degree in Integrative Physiology from the University of Colorado-Boulder and has won multiple National Championships. The experience of juggling athletic goals with collegiate and career responsibilities has taught Mac that peak performance is achievable even for those who cannot focus exclusively on training.  While concentrating on exercise physiology in an academic setting, Mac competed at the World Championships, Pan American Championships, and World Cups on both the road and track.

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