Performance Testing for Cyclists

Carl Avery competing for Great Britain in the European Age Group Duathlon Championships in Spain 2015

Many cyclists are unsure about how to improve their cycling performance and ride their bikes aiming to go further and/or faster but without any structured training. Cycle performance testing is the first step in rectifying this common scenario. By measuring exactly where you are in terms of performance, heart rates and training zones specific to the individual can be identified and used for cycling workouts on the road which are not only more varied and interesting but will significantly improve your performance.


Cycle performance testing is carried out on a Wattbike as used by British Cycling and Team Sky. This is a stationary bike which measures power output in watts.

There are two crucial thresholds which can be estimated from the testing. These are:

Aerobic Threshold. This is the heart rate above which lactate starts to rise i.e. the aerobic system alone can no longer supply the energy required.

Lactate threshold. This is the heart rate above which lactate accumulation exceeds the rate at which it can be metabolised and there is a steep rise in blood lactate concentration. The anaerobic system of energy production predominates and the ability to continue exercising at this intensity is limited before fatigue sets in.

Without blood testing these thresholds cannot be accurately measured but they can be estimated by the Ramp Test and 20 Minute Threshold Tests (see below). Once identified, the aerobic and threshold heart rates are used to set training zones and workouts for optimum improvement in performance. Repeat testing every 2-3 months will objectively measure your progress.

Ramp Test (or Maximum Minute Power MMP)
This test is simple but rather brutal. It lasts about 10-12 minutes and essentially the wattage increases incrementally every minute until the cyclist can no longer maintain that effort so it is a maximal effort test. It will measure/estimate:
• the maximum power in watts that the cyclist can maintain over the final minute of the test (MMP)
• maximum heart rate
• an estimate of VO2max (the maximum oxygen consumption)
• power to mass ratio
• lactate threshold heart rate

20 Minute Threshold Test
After the Ramp Test (and a rest!) the cyclist then cycles for 20 minutes at 75-80% of the MMP. This is again a hard effort and the average heart rate over the 20 minutes of the test will approximate to the lactate threshold heart rate predicted by the Ramp Test. The 20 minute test is a good baseline test of cycling ability and will measure/estimate:
• average power over 20 minutes
• lactate threshold heart rate
• functional threshold power (power sustainable for one hour)

From the data collected we can then provide a detailed written report including:

• results of the Ramp Test and 20 Minute Threshold Test

• heart rates and training zones specific to the individual, including estimated lactate threshold heart rate, aerobic threshold and functional threshold power

• explanation of training zones and physiological adaptations

• explanation of the importance of power to mass ratio

• cycling workout menu of over 20 workouts to choose from out on the road,  specific to the heart rates and training zones of the individual, enabling the cyclist to train for muscular endurance/strength/speed/anaerobic endurance depending on the workout selected.

Carl competing on his time trial bike
Steve Patterson – another Physicality client and Age Group duathlete who represents GB

Performance testing is for experienced and relatively fit cyclists only as the tests require a maximum effort and is not without risk.  The tests will take about an hour and a half in total with a warm up and cool down.

As with Personal Training, you will be asked to sign an informed consent form before the test and asked if you have any medical conditions which may require a GP’s written consent beforehand.


Ramp Test and 20 Minute Threshold Test (initial)          £65

Ramp Test and 20 Minute Threshold Test (repeat)         £45

Please contact us to discuss or arrange a test.