Pacing efforts 5s to 5min

Just for fun (because I like data points, thanks Nate), I’m planning on doing power profile testing next week. Either the “H.A. & A.C. Power Profile Test” or “Power Test - 30s, 2 min and 5 min”

However, before diving in, I have a pacing question for testing power levels at 5s through 5 minutes.

For 30s or less: all out and hang on (seated?)
2min to 5 min: paced like FTP test? As hard as I think I can go, or should I gun it and hang on for dear life?

I’ve got a good gauge on how hard I can push for the 8min, 20min and Ramp test, but these shorter intervals appear to be different beasts.

What is a sensible approach?


0-60s: all out and hang on for dear life

60-120s: hold back just a touch for the first 15s or so, then ramp to max effort

2.5-5mins: get up to speed in the first 10-15s, then hold steady, slow ramp if you can, and gun it in the last 20-30s

If you look at pursuit style efforts, they are generally good examples of pacing:


I left a few watts on the table here towards the end, but it was an all-time PR for 5 minutes and here is what the pacing looked like

And here is a badly paced but all time 3 minute


Good advice above.

From a mental/mindset view I think of it like this;

5 seconds - unbridled violent energy. No pacing, just explode. Your average is going to be largely determined by what you can hit in the first second. This is all about the rate of acceleration from 0 to max.
60 seconds - violent energy but expended in a somewhat controlled manner. You do need to make it to the last 15 seconds holding a power level, not decelerating, to get the best average. A hint of pacing, especially at the beginning.
2.5-5 min - this about control and sucking it up plus having the balls to go big and the brains not to go out too hard. Divide the effort into 4ths. A steady state effort should be paced so it feels like your effort level is increasing for each quarter.


Personally, anything under one minute I’d just go all out. I doubt I’d have the mental capacity to implement much in the way of pacing.

Allen/Cheung’s book (Cutting edge cycling? I think) had a chapter on pacing and mentioned that shorter events did well with a peak and fade approach. If I recall the rationale being too much being held back for a finishing kick and also that any acceleration as you cross the finish line is wasted (in a TT). The latter point wouldn’t apply to a power PR though.

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Excellent advice, thank you so much guys! I look forward to trying these efforts out!

When it comes to 5min its pretty much spot on what stevemz indicated, you start off strong for a while and then settle in (not a pleasant settle, it will hurt :sweat_smile:) and then closer to the end you ramp up as much as you can.

For me personally a 30s and a 1min are no different, you just annihilate yourself full stop from the start. My personal best for 30s was actually a part of my personal best for 1min.

With respect to a 2min effort, I never actually did a dedicated 2min all out but if I would then I would pace the first minute a bit and then for the remaining minute just empty the tank as if you would be doing a 1min all out.

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Another tip is to look at your power curve and identify your current best for each effort length you are testing. It helps to have a target/goal, especial for your first such test. You’ll need to gauge how much better than your current bests to target based on the quality of those efforts (e.g. a race vs a workout, etc)

And don’t underestimate how hard testing short power can/should be. I’ve failed or out right quit my fair share of TR workouts over the years but the only one where I got off the trainer mid workout and laid down on the concrete basement floor was a short power test!