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The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Cycling Testing

In years gone by, cycling testing has been reserved for sport science laboratories, where a qualified sport scientist is on hand to tell you every single detail about your ride. But, as an amateur cyclist, you may have little opportunity to visit a sport science facility, which means you could be missing out on essential information which could help you implement a more effective training plan.

We’ve put together a beginner's guide to cycling testing to guide you through the maze of different test protocols and get you improving your performance in a safe way.

The benefits of cycling testing

As an amteur cyclist, testing could open up a new world of measuring and analysing performance. Read on to find out how testing can help you:

1.   Train effectively

Undertaking a test at the start of your training plan will provide baseline performance figures, from these you can work out personalised training zones.

Personalised training zones ensure you are working at the exact intensity that’s right for your physiology. They ensure that each and every pedal stroke count towards achieving your goals. All Wattbike training plans work on individual training zones and are a great place to start your training.

2.  Monitor changes in your fitness

As you training plan progresses, you will expect to see an improvement in your performance, good indicators of performance improvement include feeling stronger and having more endurance. However, it’s essential to back up these feelings with evidence, testing will provide reliable, accurate data which you can analyse to see what impact your chosen plan is having on your fitness.

3. Measure the effectiveness of your training plan

Each and every training plan is designed to help you achieve a specific goal, whether that be weight loss, riding a 100 mile sportive or completing a time trial. However, sometimes things don’t happen as you expect and part way through your training plan, you may not see the expected improvements in performance.

So, what should you do? First thing’s first, you should measure the effectiveness of your training plan by testing at regular intervals, for example each month, or after each phase of training.

If your figures such as heart rate and power output do not improve after each phase of training, it may be time to re-evaluate your training plan. If the training plan allows, try adding in some of the optional, more intense, sessions to really push yourself and you should start to see some marginal gains.

Start testing

Ok, so now you know the benefits of testing, where do you start? Take a look at the tests below to figure out which one you need:

Submaximal Ramp Test

What is it: The submaximal ramp test is designed to gives a benchmark level of fitness and can be used to estimate maximum minute power and maximum heart rate.

When to use it: If you’ve not tested before, but you’re exercising on a regular basis, this is the first test you should attempt. It will provide all the benchmark figures you need to start analysing your performance.

The three minute test

What is it: The three minute test is an aerobic test designed to estimate maximum minute power and maximum heart rate.

When to use it: The three minute test is the perfect test to undertake at the start of your training plan.

The 10 minute test

What is it: The 10 minute test is a sub-maximal test which is less fatiguing than the three minute test.

When to use it: The 10 minute test is a great mid- training plan test to check your progress.

A Wattbike is the perfect partner for cycling testing because it delivers all the data you need such as maximum minute power and maximum heart rate all in one place. To find out more about using the Wattbike for different cycling tests, click here.