posted May 29, 2012, 6:09 PM by Andrew Jamieson

Performance Tests

Time Trials & FTP

Real world tests can give valuable information on how training is influencing performance. Simple Time trials over a set course (or time, as with Functional Threshold Power or FTP tests) will do this, as long as most of the variables are controlled. The weather, wind conditions, temperature, fatigue, time of day, and so on need to be the same for repeat tests, to be sure training status and not a 80knot southerly is the reason for a quicker time. The use of a wind trainer can minimise variations, but also has its drawbacks. As many variables as possible should be recorded such as heart rate, time, distance, speed, power output, equipment and weather. These tests are easy to perform and should be done on a regular basis.

Critical Powers (CP)

Critical Powers are the maximum average power output you can sustain for a set time. They are usually over 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes and 20 minutes (CP 5 second, CP1, CP5, CP20). These can be compared to other riders data to see what level and riding suits a particular rider and their current fitness (Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan compiled a list of these for each category of rider, they also use 5 and 20min power to calculate FTP). A rider can also use them to prescribe their training and track improvements.


Anaerobic Power can be measured via a Wingate test. This is an all out test lasting 30 seconds. A peak and average power output (gross and power: weight), total work and power drop off (fatigue index) are all measured. This test is especially important to track riders, but is also important for road and mountain bikers where short bursts of power are required. It can also assess the training effect of short, high intensity, intervals (less than one minute), by doing a Wingate tests before and after a short interval training block. Elite track riders can produce upwards of 2000 watts with 60-70 fatigue over the 30 seconds. Elite road riders produce less gross power (eg 1000-1200 watts) but fatigue less over the 30 seconds (20-30%). Elite women produce around 20-40% less power, but show similar figures for fatigue as the men, for both road and track.
Although it is nice to compare test results with elite riders, their greatest benefit comes from monitoring training progress and giving information that can used to determine accurate training intensities. Planning out the season, deciding when to peak, monitoring progress and training effectively with the time that is available is critical to doing well in any sport. Taking time for a little preparation and evaluation will go a long way in fulfilling your season’s goals.

This article was written by Andrew Jamieson of FITLAB, a sports testing and coaching company.

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