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Testing, testing: Your guide to the six-second test

Testing is important to help understand how your training is progressing, and to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Testing equal measurability, and no one test is better than another, but by doing a number of varied tests you will be able to build out your power curve and understand where you have room for improvement. For example, At the UCI World Cycling Centre, trainees complete a power profile test of 2x six-second peak power tests, a 30-second sprint and a 4-minute aerobic test in order to decide whether they are better for sprint or endurance events. Here, we learn more about the six-second peak power test.


What is the six-second peak power test?

If sprinting is your thing, the six-second peak power test will give you an idea of what your peak power is, and how effective your sprint training or interval training is so far. The six-second peak power test measures your highest peak power and cadence, and the peak power metric will help you measure the effectiveness of your training. To perform the test, you would ride as hard as you can for 6 seconds. Your peak power and peak rpm are usually attained within the first few pedal revolutions. The test will also establish the average power and average rpm over the 6 seconds.


When would you use the six-second peak power test?

You would use the six-second power test if your training was focused heavily on sprint work, or your training or sport relies largely on explosive power- for example, road sprinting, bmxing and mass start track cycling events, or sports such as rugby. A test would usually be undertaken at the start of your training block, and then towards the end of your training, however, as the six-second test is less evasive than a number of other tests you could test more regularly. 


How to complete the six-second peak power test,

Before taking on the test you should perform a short warm-up, and familiarise yourself with the recommended resistance settings.

Wattbike Pro/Trainer

The Wattbike Model B Performance Monitor has a pre-programmed six-second power test. Simply follow the instructions below to get started: 

1. From the main menu select workouts/ tests

2. On the test screen, select Peak Power 6” 

3. Input your weight and select enter to start the test

4. The monitor will display a recommended resistance setting, change your resistance manually so it matches what is displayed on screen

5. Once the progress bar has disappeared, you can start your test

6. The live display will show a live graph build up with the peak power achieved and a live countdown to the end of the test. 

 

Wattbike Nucleus

The Wattbike Nucleus has a 6 Second Test built in to its Performance Touchscreen, simply follow these instructions to perform the test:

  1. After performing a warm-up, set your resistance in line with the recommended resistance table
  2. Head to the ‘Tests’ section on the Wattbike Nucleus’s Performance Touchscreen 
  3. Select ‘6 Second Test’
  4. Select your age, weight, gender and fitness level (these will be pre-selected with your Hub profile details if you’re logged in to the Performance Touchscreen)
  5. Click ‘Start’. Once the 5 second countdown has disappeared, you can start your test.


Wattbike AtomX

The Wattbike AtomX has a 6 Second Test built in to its Performance Touchscreen, simply follow these instructions to perform the test:
1. After performing a warm-up, head to the ‘Tests’ section on the Wattbike AtomX’s Performance Touchscreen

2. Select ‘6 Second Test’

3. Select your age, weight, gender and fitness level (these will be pre-selected with your Hub profile details if you’re logged in to the Performance Touchscreen)

4. Click ‘Start’. Once the 5 second countdown has disappeared, you can start your test.


Wattbike Atom

The 6 Second Test is available in the Wattbike Hub app. Simply follow these instructions to perform the test:

  1. After performing a warm-up, head to the ‘Tests’ section in the Wattbike Hub app 
  2. Select ‘6 Second Test’
  3. Check the ‘User Data’ is correct
  4. Press the red ‘Play’ button
  5. Press ‘Start 6 Second Test’. Once the 5 second countdown has disappeared, you can start your test.

How to interpret your results

Following the test, a ‘test summary’ screen will automatically appear which displays metrics including:

  • Power peak
  • Cadence peak 

 About The 6 Second Test Duration

The Wattbike power metric reports full revolutions rather than being time based. Peak power is power over the single highest full revolution. You may notice in your test summary that the actual seconds recorded is fractions less than exactly 6 seconds. This is nothing to be concerned about and occurs when a partial revolution has occurred at the very beginning and/or at the very end of the test and is therefore discounted from the report. Within the data every 100th of a second is captured and all underlying data is retained.


Benefits of the six-second peak power test

As previously mentioned, the six-second peak power test is considerably less invasive than some of the other tests, including the 30 second sprint or wingate test. This means you should be able to perform the test and resume to your normal training pretty easily, and your test result is unlikely to be as affected by factors such as fatigue as a Wingate test would be.

Furthermore, the six second peak power test provides you with a specific result to the question you are asking, so there is less room for error in the interpretation.


Limitations of the six-second peak power test

The test’s specificity is somewhat limiting compared to others (for example, an FTP test would show you each of your training zones) as it only provides you an answer to the question you are asking- what is my peak power? Besides being there to flesh out your power curve, the power metric itself may not be applicable to the typical cyclist who may want to focus more on an endurance test, such as a max ramp test.


The 6 second peak power test assumes a high level of basic fitness and low risk category of cardio vascular events. Consult your Doctor before you commence any of the Wattbike tests or training plans. A pre participation health screen should be completed for all individuals wishing to take part in exercise or an exercise program. The Wattbike tests are not suitable if you are a beginner, have been recently ill or injured. Exercise prescription for minors should only be carried out under supervision of a qualified scientist. Any self exercise prescription participation is done at your own risk. Derived from the ACSM’s exercise/ test participation recommendations. 



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