As a medical doctor I like to see proof that something actually works. Show me the facts. Perform a test on an ergometer bike and show me the numbers. Hard facts. I like it.
Cycling performance tests can provide insightful information about your current fitness level. These tests can be used to evaluate and optimize training programs.
Since my early start as a cycling coach I have tested my riders on ergometer bikes with power outputs or even better on their own bikes equipped with SRM crank systems. Optimized their training programs again and again based on my empiric data stream…
Here are my 5 basic principles that can help you to benefit from cycling performance tests:
Get a power meter or use an ergometer bike. It’s essential to know how many watts you put in the pedals. If you use an ergometer bike, make sure it’s callibrated correctly every time you use it for performance tests. Please note that heart rate is interesting, but definitively not the major concern in a cycling performance test. We want to know the power output in Watts (or even better Watts per Kilogram).
Don’t do physical tests on your own. Have an assistant to guide you through the test. It could be your cycling coach, cycling buddie or just a friend or member of your family.
Make the performance test as specific as possible. There is no test that provide answers to all questions. A performance test must be designed to measure the physical parameter you want to test. If you want to test your anaerobic endurance, perform a test designed for that skill, e.g. 60sec max power. If anaerobic endurance is your major concern, it doesn’t make sense to do tests that are not focused on anaerobic endurance.
4. Test Protocol
Write down (or rather get your assistant to write down) every details about your test. Get all the numbers written down: Body weight, watts, heart rate data etc. Also worth to notice weather conditions if you make outdoor performance tests.
After performing a physical test it’s important to evaluate and discuss your results. Use your results to optimize your training routine and let the performance test inspire you to train even harder.