Benchmark Tests to Failure - Assess fitness beyond FTP

@Nate_Pearson

This is longer than I intended. TL;DR version is that I think there’s a lot of value to some more programmed tests (like the ramp test, you test to failure on a progressively harder test until failure). Except these other tests would focus on other aspects of fitness beyond just a power curve. You can use them to help athletes assess their strengths and weaknesses and recommend training plans based on that. TR can also make use of that data internally and to show the athlete their improvement on a relevant benchmark after a training block.

You guys talk a lot about it taking (fitness wise) more than just FTP to win races. For example it takes ability to go hard and recover or ride at threshold. Yet we have no standard way to assess that. So I request TR make a few standards.

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Something that I think most athletes want to know is where their strengths and weaknesses are to figure out what to train if they want to play to their strengths or fix their weaknesses. Today people can look at their power curve and the 5s, 60s, 5min and FTP W/kg charts to see how they compare to others, but that is far from perfect.

The problem with the W/kg chart is the data behind that power curve doesn’t necessarily represent what you are capable of, only what you have done. For example, if you haven’t done long, sustained efforts you won’t have an idea of what your endurance capability really is. You don’t know your true power capability curve, only your power history curve.

Another issue is that chart doesn’t tell you anything about your ability to go hard then recover. Or ability to maintain efforts at / near threshold.

One way to fix that is to do some workouts where you do these things specifically. However, there are a ton of different workouts to choose from and there’s no quantification besides you can complete the workout or had to reduce the intensity. You don’t know if you could have gone 5 or 20 minutes longer. You also don’t know which workout is likely to be too much or what is too easy. And you don’t know how your result stacks up to others.

My proposed solution is to create a few more test workouts (like the ramp test), each tailored to evaluate different aspects of your fitness. The tests would be progressive and test until failure (like the ramp test). For example, a test that does over unders for longer and longer durations until failure could test for my ability to go hard and recover. A test that has the rider ride at FTP until failure could test endurance and accuracy of your FTP setting. A test that does some progressively higher power intervals mightBe useful. I am sure a few other tests that more knowledgeable people can think of.

Then there could be some guidance (it could just be in the workout description of the test or a blog post) to help the user understand what their performance on the test means and how it compares to what is expected / likely possible (at their FTP). You could help people understand where they might be especially gifted (naturally excel). There should also be some guidance to which training blocks / plans are best to improve their performance on that test. There should also be some guidance as to which scenarios / goals improved performance would be helpful for. This would address so many questions that people have over and over.

Another benefit would be for TrainerRoad internally. By having another test that many athletes are periodically doing (even if it’s not part of any plan) and is setup to see how an athlete performs until failure, you have some really valuable data. If you did add the relevant benchmark to the begging and end of a training block, it would help you (and the athlete) see how effective the training was (obviously you would have to account for plan compliance). TR

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i think here is the right place, we talked some days ago:

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Many thanks for this recommendation! It would definitely be beneficial to more accurately measure athlete’s strengths and weaknesses, and tailor plans accordingly!

From an organizational standpoint, there are likely a lot of moving pieces to create these different test rides (and proactively modify plans based upon those results), and I’m not entirely sure that its something TrainerRoad has the ability to accommodate. Nonetheless, I’ve passed it along to our feature development team so that it’s on their radar, should they have the capacity to implement this!

Thanks again for your thoughts and input. Its athletes and discussions like this that help TrainerRoad keep improving! :metal:

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It’s not well advertised but the Allen/Coggan Power Profile Test is a workout you can do to answer this.

You can then take the results, compare to Coggan’s chart to get an idea of where you fall.

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Other “Power Profile” related posts:

I didn’t know about that workout, thanks.

But Cogan’s chart is what I meant when I talked about limitations of the current method. It doesn’t let you know how well you do under dynamic conditions, like over-unders that may tell you a lot more about your ability to do well in a crit. Or the ability to hold threshold for long periods of time for a TT.

How do I find out how long / far above FTP I can ride repeatably? I can try a bunch of OU workouts and see where I fail, but then maybe on the last one I had a bad day. If I am training only 3x per week, I might have to do 2 weeks of OUs to figure out my ability. Instead, TR could make an OU workout that gets progressively harder and nobody can finish. Then I try and see how far into it I can get. Then either the software tells me how far I got before failure or I manually examine the file.

Then of course I need some information to go further and learn what the results mean and what to do about it.

To get something useful together, the software doesn’t have to change. Chad could make the workouts and wrote a blog post about how to interpret the results and what training plan to pick to improve each area. Someone could add more context about why each tire of fitness matters in riding / racing context.

The workouts don’t have to be dynamically generated. They just have to be long and hard enough that nobody with an accurate FTP can finish them.

Picking the failure point can be up to the user. Just look at when you couldn’t hold the prescribed power anymore.

I imagine that the blog post for the over-under workout would say something along the lines of:

if you made it less than 5 minutes into the workout, you have low ability to recover from hard efforts. This will make it hard to keep up on group rides. Crits are not your friend. Consider a sustained power build plan to improve this aspect of your fitness.

If you lasted 5-10 minutes, you have a moderate ability to recover. To improve Consider adding an over under workout in place of a long ride.

If you lasted 10-15 minutes, you have good ability to recover. If you want to improve further, consider workouts X, Y, Z.

If you lasted more than 15 minutes, congratulations! You are a recovery machine. You can use your ability to go crush a hilly course, your local crit, or cyclocross race. Just don’t forget that handling and tactics are important for success.

Plan builder and the workout software don’t have to change.

But, your average user doesn’t know these things. I am probably only half right even in my example. TR’s selling point is mainly that it simplifies the complex science down to help athletes train optimally to reach our goals. I think this request would help people do that.

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That first link about Coggan chart is what I am saying is inadequate. That chart can’t tell me how well I can suffer around and above FTP. It only tells me my short, one-off power ability.

The second link did have a post that linked to a comment from Chad saying something is in the works, but was too vague to really know whether that addresses my request.

Huges84: good proposal!

The Kylie More / Empirical Cycling FTP test is a test to exhaustion, ridden at basically FTP. See the thread Testing protocols for details. So this works as a test of TTE at FTP.

In the same manner, it is easy enough to create the workouts you are looking for. What’s needed is the advice about what to do with the results.

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Is there any evidence that people differ significantly in their ability to recover from varying power above/below FTP? If so, what is the unique mechanism?

You already have the tool — TR’s Workout Creator — to make any kind of workout/test you desire.

:+1:t2:

Dunno… Is repeatability a thing?

Lots of people sure seem to think it is.

I repeat riding my bike every day, so…yes? :man_shrugging:

We hear you. :slightly_smiling_face: :shushing_face:

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Oh shiiii

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whaaaaaaa, oh yeah.

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:grinning: It makes sense to me that something like this is part of your plans. Essentially what we pay for is expertise and guidance on how to use it. More guidance means more value for the money

To the people telling me to just use workout builder, I know that I can make my own workouts to do these things, but then I need enough knowledge to really know what I am doing. Physiology and endurance training are very complex and it’s easy to do counter-productive things. I subscribe to TR to simplify that all for me and help me optimize. Otherwise, I would just grab a pre-built plan for a lot less money and just roll with it.

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