End of Season Test?

We're now entering our eighth year of carrying out physiological testing for athletes and have amassed data from over 330 tests and 94 different athletes. 

To see some of the Power Profiles of local athletes, follow this link.  How do you think you'd compare?

The tests we carry out are described in detail on the individual test pages accessed by clicking this link to the  WWPP page. 

The most relevant end of season test, in my opinion, is the dreaded six minutes that's the wVO2max Test.  This little leg stretcher is used to determine an athlete's minimal wattage at which maximal aerobic capacity is attained

It tells you their sustained wattage output at their maximum oxygen consumption, which is indicated by the term, wVO2max.  Basically, it's the start of the Red Zone which, when racing, should be crossed only when absolutely necessary.

Take a read of this factsheet to get an idea of what's involved.  Follow this link, if you want to know how to conduct your own test.

Start next season as strong as you finished this
How good would it be if you could start next season as fit as when you finished this one?  We all aspire to it, and we all train for it, but how can you quantify your progress towards your aspirations and know when you've reached them? 

Easy, take a test, structure your winter base and emergent training around the results from that test, and retest at an appropriate time before the new season begins.  You'll then have a perfect fitness indicator of where you were at your peak and where you've ended up at the conclusion of your pre-season programme in January. 

You then draw up a training plan to close the gap before the season starts in March.  How easy is that?

2009 Season End
The end of this season has, once again, seen some excellent tests and some dramatic improvements from individual's early and mid-season sessions.  We've seen quite a few Personal Bests and towards the back end of the year we had our first a 5.0 w/kg wVO2max result! 

As always, you know I never give out identifiable client details.  So below I've cut-off loads of data from the files given to athletes in their post-test information pack.  The screen shots below are to give a minimum information, pictorial indication of what a test consists.  Obviously the warm up and cool down are also removed!

A perfect wVO2max profile?
There are many possible strategies available when undertaking a test.  Some people have one, others don't; riding as hard as you can until you blow isn't always the best.  Below are six profiles from athletes who undertook exactly the same test.  How different could they be?

In the following profiles the colour codes used are:  Green ~ Power; Brown ~ Heart Rate;  Pink ~ Cadence;  Blue ~ Speed. 

The profile above shows a measured approach to the test.  This is an indication of a rider that's gone straight to their 6 minute threshold and held it for the duration of the test.  This rider knows their body and capabilities very well.

This profile shows a structured strategy and continued assessment of what the rider believes is available in the time left to completion.  This is a perfect time trial!  This ride brought an all time high power output.

This rider had the same idea as the rider above but chose a seamless transition across the whole six minutes.  Another perfect test.  As they all are.   Because they all brought valuable training and pacing information to the athlete concerned.

Now for the howlers!

This one was mine!  Nice and measured start, a big mid test push and an even bigger back end collapse.  Went for a big one and blew it.  Not my best work!  It did, however, show me exactly where my ultimate power threshold lies.  We all have a genetic ceiling to our capabilities.  I know exactly where mine is.  It's the lump in the middle.

This one was undertaken by the same person that provided the perfect time trial output in the second graph above.  Massive early test push, struggle to hold on as lactate strangles progress and pride forcing a kick up at the end.  Sad thing was, this was when they were really on song and at their peak, which led to a little over-confidence at the beginning!  Still, you can see they learnt  from it, a test is never wasted.

This rider never found their rhythm.  Constant gear changes (pink spikes and troughs) while fighting lactate build up, heat generation and increasing fatigue finally took their toll.  Once more pride kicked in at the end but proved unsustainable.  Notice the heart rate through all of this.  Massive drop off in power but no change in heart rate.  Again, a valuable lesson learned.

How hard can it be?
I'll be honest with you, six minutes at threshold is a lot longer than you would believe and not the most pleasant of experiences.  It's like a three lap attack at Les Quennevais. (The local crit circuit for our continental readers). 

The Message
It works for me and it may work for you.  But unless you take a test you may never find out.  Click here to read the VO2max factsheet for further info. 

I can guarantee this is the best 20 cycling investment you'll ever make.  What have you got to lose?  If you don't want to, or can't visit, then carry out your own test by following these instruction.  Just don't try it on the road.  It won't work.  Trust me.

The Power Profiles menu on the left gives an indication of the type of information you will receive.  The level of advice offered to complement the data is dependent on the take up of a coaching plan.