There are many ways in which athletes test their improvements or their current level of fitness. There is the more commonly known 20-minute FTP test, or there is an 8 minute FTP test as well, or via a RAMP test or maybe the athlete will ride for a complete 60 minutes. The way that I prefer to measure fitness is on what is the power and speed that you can sustain AFTER 90 or 120 minutes or maybe even 6 or 12 hours. The timing will vary depending on the event that the cyclist is preparing for. Normally cross-country races are just a bit longer than 90 minutes and longer races are usually just a bit longer than 120 minutes (or 2 hours). With ultra-endurance events, it might be necessary to measure the fitness level at 6, 8 or 12 hours of riding. For this type of event is not necessary to complete the entire race duration for a fitness test, but at a minimum one with 50% or more of the time of the event.
Why do I believe that a fitness test that measures your power and speed after a certain amount of riding is important? It is not that I do not believe that the power a cyclist outputs during the first 90% of the race is not important to measure and use a guide for training. But in reality, the vast majority of races are decided in the last 10% of the race, this is where the attacks are made and where cyclist bonk or hit the wall. For this reason, I believe that it is important to be able to maintain a high level of fitness all the way until the end of the event, and then after everyone else is not able to go any longer, that it will have the ability to attack and win the event. If one as a coach or athlete measures and tests constantly at this timeframe, it will know that if it is improved that the cyclist will perform better at his target event. On the other hand, if the cyclist only completes an 8-minute test, although it will help him to get a better idea of where his fitness is going it will not give him a complete picture of how prepared he is for the event he is training for.
Testing at just above the time that the athlete needs to perform at can be done periodically, during its overall training plan timeframe. A perfect scenario will have to test the athlete at the start of each mesocycle. However, this is normally not easy to do with athletes normally having a different and busy schedule; if it is not easy to do, a minimum of one fitness test every 3 months is required/recommended in order to get a better idea of how the cyclist is progressing with his training plan. Many times, athletes and coaches forget about this and go months and months without testing, without knowing if he is going in the right direction. With this, they potentially lose months or even years of possible improvement, as not every training plan will provide the same level of adaptation or results on all persons.
If you need help putting together a fitness test that is right for you, send me a message online or contact me at (619) 800 – 2678 and I will be more than happy to help you. I as well offer Coaching Services that will include this test customization, as well as a personalized training plan that will make the most out of your limited time.