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Episode Info: One key question we ask ourselves as coaches at FasCat, is if the athlete is responding to the training we have prescribed. Aka, are they getting faster? Our favorite “experiment” to answer this question is a good old fashioned 20 minute power based field test, which is free and can be conducted anywhere and anytime appropriate. Reality Cycling In a former life and career, I conducted hundreds of experiments as a research scientist in biotechnology and academic medical research laboratories designed to answer specific questions about the research projects I was working on. Spinal cord research, cancer, and novel cancer cures to name a few.  At FasCat, we still perform “experiments” designed to evaluate our athletes’ current physiology as it relates to their cycling performance.  Still to this day the most practical, most relevant test of all is a 20 minute power based field test. With the exception of the gold standard, 40k time trial.1463Increase your FTP with our Hill Climb Intervals Training Plan. In the past we have conducted MLSS tests in an exercise physiology lab, but the reality is that cyclists need to test two to three times per year which is cost prohibitive and not practical for many athletes.  Plus indoor power tends to be slightly less that outdoor power.  A properly conducted field test cuts to the core of cycling performance and gives a great physiological assessment of the athlete (1), making it an indispensable tool for our coaches or the self coached athlete. How Do I Conduct a Field Test? In essence, a 20 minute power based field test is riding as fast as hard as you can for exactly 20 minutes.  Just like a 20 minute time trial. Record your average power output and use that number as a benchmark and to determine your wattage based zones*.  When available we’ll recommend a steady grade hill free of stop signs, descents and any section of road that requires the athlete to stop pedalling.  Ideally a 2-3% steady grade hill like this Strava segment.  Steeper climbs tend to bog athletes’ cadence down which skews the test results.  Conversely, some athletes make greater power uphill than they can on the flats. Whichever you choose, it is absolutely imperative that you ensure your test is repeatable, accurate and reliable. Apples – apples. Here’s how: For the road cyclist and mountain biker an all out effort similar to your time trial pace of 20 minutes elicits a physiological response that has been found to be “the single greatest determinant of cycling performance in mass start cycling events” (1).  We have experimented with 60 minute Field Tests and honestly not that many athletes can sustain that sort of mental effort for the full 60 minutes.  If they can its a mental match we don’t want to burn.  On the other hand if we know the athlete can do a 60 minute field test once a year, it is the coaches discretion to prescribe one.   It is especially beneficial to compare 60 minute field test data ...
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