Newbie Field Test

I’ve a friend who is new to mountain biking and, in fact, new to cycling in general. She wants to start a consistent training regimen and she asked for my advice. Of course I told her about TrainerRoad and how she should get a membership and subscribe to one of the free Training Plans available with a membership.

But, I have a question: How do you ask a Newbie cyclist to do a Field Test when they’ve never known how to froth at the mouth and do an all-out suffer for a Ramp Test, 20 min Test, or 2 x 8 min test??? How do you get a good baseline start to prescribe workouts for someone like this?

FYI: This person is a pretty fit female in her early 40s’.

Thanks for any advice in advance.


Well, she probably won’t push herself 100% the first time around. It doesn’t matter though. She’ll keep getting better at testing.


The ramp test is a lot easier for new riders because it doesn’t require pacing like the 20 & 8 minute ones. Don’t overthink it (and don’t overwhelm her with your overthinking).


No overthinking … just thinking. You know what I’m talking about. Others won’t.

Testing is training. Training is testing.

Experienced or inexperienced we all learn til we die. A new rider may or may not get a “valid” baseline but, they will get a baseline. You have to start somewhere.

One thing that does seem to confuse inexperienced riders new to training is when someone says go “all out” for 20 minutes. They think max sprint from second number one…so just pass on max 20 minute effort is different from a max 5 minute effort which is different from a max 30 second effort etc…


Even if it is not perfectly executed, use that datapoint to train with for a couple of weeks. A kind of intro to structured training.

Re-test after those 2 weeks. She’ll probably be a lot better at conducting the test and score higher. Use this new datapoint going forward,

Last week I finally got my gf to try the home trainer. I told her about the ramp test but she said no.
She tried one day a random 30 min workout and she thought it was too hard. The second time she tried another one and she thought it was too easy. That was when she decided to go for the ramp test.

Ramp test. If you’re untrained you wont push to popping but it wont matter as the next few training phases will be more than they’ve ever done and so they’ll see epic gains regardless :ok_hand:t3: :grin:

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She might actually do better than you think since she won’t know any better to be afraid. :slight_smile:

This is a great point. I have a buddy who is a great rider, but refuses to use any technology to track/measure his rides. It’s just not his thing. However, whenever he asks me about intervals I’m doing, he always asks me in terms of an absolute “percentage” of effort. To him, “100%” or “max effort” is a dead-out, one time sprint. His brain doesn’t think in terms of “max effort for X amount of time,” so I’m always trying to take my understanding of intervals/prescribed time and effort and put it into terms of absolute 1-100%. It ends up being a bit more confusing than I would have thought sometimes.

Thanks to all who’ve replied. I’m thinking Ramp Test might be the way to go for her. The 2 x 8 min test? Maybe. Def not the 20 min for someone with no miles in their legs or experience.

Yes, if you have no long sustained efforts in your legs the 20-min test is ridiculous.

Our gym has Stages stationary bikes with power meters. About 5 years ago the class instructors were required to attend Stages power based training. So it came to pass that many of the mostly middle aged “I’m here for cardio” women in the class did what Sarah asked - a single 8 min test. That was a sight, and most that tried did fine (a sweaty and out of breath mess at the end).

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New TR users and especially new riders should see pretty significant fitness gains in TR even if their initial Ramp Tests under assess their FTP (within reason), because they’re basically coming from nothing. So it’s nothing to lose sleep over.

Knowing how to suffer is a skill that’s learned over time.

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