The Six Minute Self Test
Not everyone can or wants to
visit us to undertake a fitness test, or as we now like to call them,
But that doesn't mean you
can't carrying out one yourself, in the "comfort" of your own home.
All you need is a turbo a
according to your technical availabilities, one or more of the
speedo in kilometres
Dog's are optional.
Ours always wants to get in on the act as cyclists always have food with
them. At least dog's aren't judgemental. They're always happy to see
you and wag their tail
at the end of your exertions, which always makes you feel as though you did well!
Setting Yourself Up
Before you turn a pedal in anger, you need to ensure that you
eliminate all variables from your calculations. The accuracy of
your results are determined by your levels of attention to detail before
the ride. So give these following paragraphs your full
when I say pressures I mean pressure. We're only interested in the
back wheel. Set it to 100 psi every single time you get on the
turbo. Doesn't matter what you ride on the road, make it 100 psi
when you're on the rack.
sure that when you run subsequent tests, against which you'll compare
your initial results, that you have the same block on the back wheel
and/or the same chainring on the front. Don't think this is being
too picky, because I've seen it done and the results are not always
important also. Try to take subsequent comparator tests on the same bike as
your initial test, Road bike, winter bike or TT bike, it doesn't
matter which as long as it's the same one every time you are comparing
against a baseline.
If, during the season, you
wish to measure your TT power then of course you'll need to take a
baseline test on that bike before measuring improvement. Don't do
the first one on a winter hack, then the second on the TT bike and
expect to get meaningful results.
of the wheel against the roller is also highly important. Note the
number of turns on the knob from initial tyre contact until the wheel stops
spinning under load. Or do a run down test by getting up to 35
kph, holding it for five seconds, then stop pedalling and measure the time
it takes the wheel to come to a complete stop. Make a note of it,
then make sure all other tests are run at the same roller resistance.
Almost. It would be a shame if you went through all the
rigmarole of the above then didn't pay attention to your warm up
routine. Again, find a routine that works for you and stick to it.
Read this factsheet for suggestions on
how to structure a workable routine.
The most relevant end of
season test, in my opinion, is the dreaded six minutes that's the
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.
Okay, we're off.
Everything is set; you've followed the list above and you've warmed up
correctly. Stop the bike and compose yourself. Let your
heart rate come back to a "nice" level, take a sip of your drink, then
start the stop watch and start pedalling towards the flying start.
Once you've started the
stopwatch, build up slowly and take a minute to get to 80% of your
expected six minute effort. Don't go too hard too soon, the test
hasn't started yet.
As the watch heads towards completing 60 seconds, gently build up to hit the 61st second with a
"sustainable effort" flying
start. Then, if you haven't got a fancy turbo trainer for
downloading your results,
hit the trip counter on your speedo.
Ride as smoothly as you can,
constantly evaluating your position and ability to get to the end of the
six minutes with nothing left in the tank. You don't want to end up like example
In the following profiles
the colour codes used are: Green ~ Power;
Brown ~ Heart Rate;
Pink ~ Cadence;
Blue ~ Speed.
Example one is a
perfect ride, almost. They dipped with about 15 seconds to go.
But at least they knew they had nothing left.
Whereas this rider went
out to break the world six minute record and fell Icarus-like, back to
earth. Not a good day at the office!
Notice the heart rate
(brown line) through all of the above shenanigans.
A massive drop off in power (green) but no change in heart rate. A
valuable lesson learned in the art of pacing.
Study these two graphs and
visualise your effort to make it more like the first than the second.
Then, as you get to the end of the
six minutes of effort (seven minutes on the watch); hit your trip counter on your speedo and take at least 5-10 minutes
to cool down. Job done!
If you have a sexy downloadable turbo
programme, or power meter, then you look for your average power output
for the 6 minute effort and that's your wVO2max; the power you put out
at your maximum oxygen consumption.
If you haven't got all that
power gizmo, then check the trip on your speedo and find the average
speed, or distance covered, for that six minute period. You can't
do loads of calculations or extrapolations from this info but it does
give you an idea of how far, or how fast you've travelled in six
Save the information
somewhere safe, go away do your training for a couple of months, then
come back and repeat the test. following your previous preparations to
The difference in speed,
distance or power output is your improvement. It's that simple.
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.