Understanding test results

The testing is one of the most important aspects of the plan and understanding the results gives you real insight into your personal strengths and weaknesses.

When you complete your test, you will be given a set of results, this article explains the scores and how they should be interpreted.

Sprint power and sprint power/weight – This the the PEAK figure that you hit during the 10 second sprint test. Note that it’s not an average taken over the 10 seconds, it’s the highest spike, which you’ll probably hit within a few seconds. This is simply a measurement of you absolute maximal force production. There is an absolute figure for max sprint power (what was the power you hit) and anaerobic power/weight figure (the figure you hit divided by your body weight).

Aerobic power and aerobic power/weight is the last full minute that you achieved on the ramp test. The test increases 20 watts every minute, the last complete minute is your maximal aerobic power. This is shown as an absolute figure called maximal aerobic power and aerobic power/weight (the maximal aerobic power divided by your body weight).

From years of testing, we know that sprint power (maximal force) is important for cycling performance. We know that people with low sprint power, will generally also score low on the maximal aerobic power ramp test. Likewise, those who get the highest scores on the maximal aerobic power test, generally have very high sprint test scores. Therefore, if your sprint power is low, this may inhibit your maximal aerobic test score and your cycling performance in general.

Predicted scores

You will notice on your test results some ‘predicted scores’. We have taken an average of all our tests to calculate these scores. As an example, it may say on the test results that your ‘aerobic p/w ratio is 4’ and underneath it may say ‘predicted p/w from sprint is 5’.

What that means, is that whilst you achieved 4 on the maximal aerobic power, ‘on average, most people who sprinted the same score as you, actually reach 5 on the maximal aerobic power. So based on those averages, your sprint power therefore ranks better than your maximal aerobic power. What does this mean? Your sprint power isn’t the limiting factor, stopping you getting further on the maximal aerobic power test. The sprint power, is already good enough. It’s therefore your aerobic fitness which is the issue.

Conversely, if your maximal aerobic power shows 5 and your ‘predicted p/w from sprint shows 4, then it’s likely that your maximal force is too low and that’s limiting how far you can get on the maximal aerobic power test.

Threshold points

There are 2 thresholds calculated. VT1 / aerobic threshold is the first one and this is the upper limit of zone 1 training zones. VT2 / anaerobic threshold is the 2nd one, this is in the middle of zone 4. The zones are fully explained on your test results. When we do aerobic work, we are largely trying to raise your VT1. The power you can produce or speed you can run at VT1 is probably the single best indicator or Ironman performance from our data.

Economy scores

We’ll refer a lot to economy scores throughout the plan. In simple terms, what was your heart rate, how much oxygen and how many kcal where you using at lower power outputs. If we do a lot of lower intensity training, we are specifically targeting economy scores, so when you are riding at 150-200 watts, a reduction in oxygen and kcal usage is the marker of improvement.

As with VT1, your economy scores are the most important markers of long distance performance. Having a high ‘maximal score’ is great, but if your economy is poor and you’re using a lot of oxygen and kcal at lower intensities, you will be walking the marathon regardless. Once you have a relatively good maximum score, it’s all about enhancing economy to sustain your output for the duration of the event.

Anything else?

There’s a 3 minute power test which is for our data collection purposes and you can estimate FTP (the theoretical power you can hold for 1 hour) from the 3 minute test. It’s fair to assume that a 3 minute test can over-predict FTP. Most people generally do a 20 minute test to predict FTP and that tends to over-predict, so a 3 minute test most certainly will do the same.

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