Tests and training zones
Pushing a rider to a level they have not experienced before requires organised, systematic, reliable and consistent evaluation and recording of performance data. Using cutting edge software such as WKO5, Training Peaks and Xert, we can identify your precise physiological markers - ensuring you are training at an intensity which both pushes your limits and avoids burnout.
The pain pays off - tests form a basis to measure improvement and refine targets. A good test really can match that race winning feeling.
Our principle is one of minimal testing, maximal reliable feedback. Whilst it is important, testing should never become the driver of training.
testing aerobic capacity - the map test
Maximum aerobic power (MAP) can be tested both in the lab environment and on the road - using lactate analysis and/or power and heart rate monitoring.
A graduated test effort to exhaustion gives a very good indication of maximum aerobic power and heart rate. This test is carried out on a static bike with ergonomic control and intensity increased in 30w increments every 3 minutes. The additional benefit of this test being static is the ability to measure stabilised blood lactate at the end of each step. We can then build a lactate profile and determine exact markers for glycogen usage of the rider.
A simple but effective field method for estimating a rider’s MAP is a 6-minute test designed to reach the athlete’s maximum sustainable power and heart rate. Across all our data we find this test returns a similar outcome to lab testing and can be done on the road by using a rider's own power meter.
testing functional threshold - the ftp test
Widely seen as the gold standard test due to its simplicity, the Functional Threshold Power (FTP) test is repeatable and reliable. FTP is one of the vital indicators of performance in endurance cycling, and is effective for setting training zones.
The aim is to find the maximum power and heart rate you can sustain for one-hour. However, to minimise interference with the training programme, the FTP test is carried out as a 20-minute effort maximal effort, with the final numbers multiplied by 0.95 to find your true FTP.
Before starting the test, we recommend a 5-minute effort at an intensity slightly above the predicted FTP. This effort will significantly reduce the contribution of the anaerobic systems and produce a more accurate result. FTP must not be mistaken for Anaerobic Threshold: in our experience FTP is often slightly higher than AnT.
Training zones allow us to get specific. They ensure every training session has a focal point for improvement. A properly structured programme is steered by the use of accurate training zones - and every rider can find gains if their schedule combines structure, zone-based sessions and proven training methods.
zone 7 - neuromuscular and atp-pc
zone 6 - anaerobic capacity
zone 5 - aerobic capacity
zone 4 - anaerobic threshold/ftp
zone 3 - tempo
zone 2 - aerobic endurance
% of FTP watts
PERCEIVED RATE OF EXERTION
zone 3 - HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING
zone 2 - TEMPO AND SUB-THRESHOLD
zone 1 - LOW INTENSITY TRAINING
% of V02 max heart rate
The basis for the zones we use are derived from science
The body has three energy systems which can produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) - a chemical that provides the energy to drive muscles. The ATP-PC system (anaerobic phosphagen system), the anaerobic glycolytic system and the aerobic oxidative system are all replenished and fired at different rates depending on the force and intensity of the effort.
The ATP-PC system provides most of the ATP for very high intensity efforts. Fast but inefficient, a small supply means it only functions for around 20 seconds. The ATP-PC system is targeted by training zone 7 power and zone 3 heart rate.
The anaerobic glycolytic system is in action for high intensity activity, ranging from 20 seconds to 2 minutes. This system can use blood glucose and muscle glycogen stores, with its abundance being directly related to how much carbohydrate you have in your diet. It is also inefficient, and is targeted by training zones 4,5 & 6 power, plus zone 3 heart rate.
The aerobic oxidative system is the major source for medium and low intensities, ranging from 2 minutes to more than 3 hours. Similar to the glycolytic system, it has the ability to utilise blood glucose and muscle glycogen with oxygen meaning total ATP yield (more useable energy at the muscle) is higher for a given potential energy. The system’s endurance is prolonged by burning fat in the production of ATP, but is limited by its reduced ability to process energy above a threshold. This system is targeted by training zones 2&3 power and zone 1&2 heart rate.