Maximum Aerobic Power (MAP), what does it really tell you?

Hi all,

So a ramp test officially measures your maximum aerobic power (MAP) which is the highest one minute of power you put out before failure on the test. FTP is then calculated from this based on the fact that for the majority of people it comes out at 72-78% of MAP. This all makes sense. However…

What I want to know is what does the MAP actually tell me in itself? What can you infer from the MAP? My most recent MAP is 483w - does this mean I should be able to put out 483w for X number of minutes in a maximal effort? Does it represent a physiological level of work above which my body starts responding in a different way? etc. etc. I haven’t done any maximal 1, 3, 5, 8 min efforts to compare but in any case that’s probably just a personal comparison so I’m wondering if there are any general rules/ranges.

Please no answers along the lines of simply ‘it tells you the maximum power you can put out aerobically’ haha :wink:

Cheers,
Henry

MAP is roughly your 5-min power at VO2max, Coach Chad briefly discussed this in the first VO2Max deep dive (podcast 189, starting at 29:30). Notes here:

I’ve heard other coaches say 6-min power, but for myself MAP is a ceiling on 5-min max effort. In other words, I’ve never been able to do MAP for 5-min. My best max effort was ~4-min at MAP. Perhaps that is partly because I’ve only targeted 4 to 4.5 minute max efforts, or 7-9 minute max efforts.

Well that is exactly what it is, plus whatever anaerobic energy reserves you still have available as you approach your limit.

1 Like

:joy:

That’s a good point! 5-minute power might be a good estimate for work rate at VO2max. Maximum Aerobic Power is usually a little bit more than that. To me, if you can hold MAP for 5 minutes that’s really good. I’d say most could probably only hold MAP for 3.5 to 4 minutes.

As far as the original question…what does MAP tell me? Maybe some useful things. We’ve been doing it for so long there is at least a pretty big body of data to compare to. Relative to past efforts it gives me some idea of how training is going. Paired with a time to exhaustion test that last the better part of an hour MAP can inform training decisions. I think maximum aerobic power is well correlated with VO2max so if you want a cheap way to assess that…

And, of course, you can use it to estimate VT2, or mlss, or critical power, or whatever. As to whether it’s the best estimate…welllll…you can make it work, probably. I’d still do that ~hr TTE test, though. You’ll know a lot more about yourself if you know MAP and ~hr TTE work rate.

MAP depends on the protocol of the ramp test. The steeper the ramp the higher value will be obtained for MAP. For example at +25W per minute MAP might be approximately your best 3 or 4 minute power whereas +10W per minute MAP might be approximately your best 5-8 minute power.

1 Like

One thing I can infer right away is that you’re likely to drop me.

And, yeah, I would further infer that you are likely to be able to hold 483W for 3 to 4 minutes.

2 Likes

Fair play haha. What I mean is that on its own that doesn’t give me much info. For instance, ‘aerobic’ suggests a longer effort whereas there is clearly a large anaerobic contribution at those effort levels. I guess my question could be phrased as ‘is MAP an artefact of the ramp test, or is it kind of the other way around’. For me FTP, aerobic capacity, VO2max (to a lesser extent) and anaerobic capacity make sense because I can understand the physiology, but I’m a bit lost with MAP.

In searching this question online I noted that sufferfest equated 5 min max power to MAP and wondered if this is based on specific research, perhaps not… I’m gonna listen to the podcast you mention @bbarrera, should be helpful - thanks!

@Brennus some really interesting info. For sure it will be a useful measure of training progression as I’m basically going solely on ramp tests currently since my only source of power measurement is on the turbo or a wattbike. I haven’t recorded any max efforts since I got into cycling a couple of years ago; my 20 min test ftp from back then is now low tempo :laughing:

as does TR’s Coach Chad in podcast 189 (around 29:30 into the episode), and probably on some other podcasts episodes.

I’ve read it elsewhere, it appears to be widely acknowledged within coaching circles and therefore likely goes back many years.

Nah. He says VO2max is approx 5min power. That’s probably about true.

But MAP is not VO2max. Oxygen consumption plateaus a little bit before MAP…that’s the point that obndy made. In any event, there’s a pretty robust data set demonstrating very, very few trained cyclists can hold MAP for 300 seconds. Go check it out. You’ll enjoy reading the papers! Even 4min @ MAP is pretty good for a trained cyclist.

2 Likes

hmmph. Now who is being pedantic? :slight_smile:

1 Like

LOL, I’ll listen to that part again in case my notes are wrong. Thought he explicitly said last minute of a ramp test (which is MAP), and equating that with 5-min power at vo2max. And there is no “power at vo2max” you have to assign it to a duration, which in this case last minute of ramp is approximately 5-min power at vo2max. :man_shrugging:

I believe you, my best is roughly 3:59 but most bests are around 2:40!!

I’m not a coach ir anything, so this might not work, but…Here’s what I think it could be useful for.

Do a ramp test. Note down your last-minute power (MAP).

Do a long-style FTP test. The longer the better, ie just ride at FTP for as long as you can.

Devide long FTP / MAP. Use the result to help decide in which direction to take your training, ie if it’s time for a vo2 block or for more endurance/sweetspot work.

1 Like

I think this link was another thread recently. Good description from a guy who’s been doing this long before TR, especially under the “misnomer” section. Similar to some of the previous posts, but a good description nonetheless

Doh…

I like this topic because I have often questioned the usefulness of MAP in the past. For a start, the name MAP is completely misleading, it has nothing to do with maximum aerobic power. It should just be called Maximum Ramp Test Power, because that’s all it is. It is a unitless metric which is only good for comparing to previous efforts.

MAP gained a bit more purpose when it started being used as an estimator of FTP, but I have my issues with that as well. As splash said above, comparing your ramp test FTP with your 20 or 30 minute FTP will give you an indication of where your strengths and weaknesses lie. I know for me a MAP estimated FTP is too high, and sweet spot efforts are closer to threshold. Calculating what percentage of MAP my FTP should be by doing a 20 minute test would be handy, but that will change with different phases of training anyway. I should do both tests every time I test and track the changes in performance between the 2, but that sounds horrible…

Why would it be unitless? It’s in watts.

3 Likes

Some really helpful responses, cheers guys.

I listened to AACC podcast 189 last night as per @bbarrera recommendation and this is something they went into and it makes a lot of sense. For me at this stage having only been doing structured training since the end of August I’m going to keep going with MVSSB2 and into build etc as I’m probably in the region of ‘easy gains’ still. Eventually though I’ll start to weigh up the vo2 max vs FTP question and work on the limiting factor.

Checking your link @harrington - looks v useful from a first glance.

1 Like

In the scientific literature, it’s sometimes called MAP because it’s mostly determined by your VO2max - which is also known as maximal aerobic power.

Confusingly, it’s also sometimes called Pmax - even though it isn’t really the maximal power someone can produce during sprinting - or Wmax, with the old-school dot over the W to indicate that it’s a rate, in this case of doing work, otherwise known as power.

Using a fixed percentage of “MAP” will overestimate FTP in some and underestimate it in others for the same reason that using a fixed percentage of 20 minute power does.

What if your performance is much more dependent on one or the other?

For example, if your goal to snag some Strava segment that takes about 5 minutes, shouldn’t you be trying to push up your MAP no matter what?