Why Do A Cycling Fitness Test?

The purpose of cycling fitness testing is to provide information that can be used to both optimise training and enhance performance.

Getting your training intensities correct and working on the right things at the right stage of the year means you aren’t wasting precious training time.

The risks of injury, illness and overtraining can also be reduced as a consequence.

The main physiological variables that impact on performance will vary depending on what you are training for, so getting your training right for your event and also for your current physiological status is important.

In short, a cycling fitness test will help you maximise your training in the time that you have available to train. For more information or to make an appointment for a cycling fitness test please contact us.

Cycling Fitness Test Protocol

The test is in two parts (maximal and submaximal) and includes measures of VO2max, maximal heart rate, maximal aerobic power output and lactate thresholds and corresponding heart rates and power outputs. Testing takes place on an SRM bike. This can be adjusted to be exactly the same set-up as your own bike.

You can download a detailed description of the test protocols here.


After the testing you would receive a written report. The report would include all the data that was collected during your testing session, and an explanation of what it all means.

The tests allow us to determine your strengths and weaknesses, and we explain how these impact on your performance. Your report would give training advice based on your test results, taking into account the training you currently do, your goals, and the time you have available to train.

What Is Measured?

Maximal Aerobic Power Output

This is the power output that you are able to sustain during the last minute of the max test. A good maximal aerobic power output is useful for climbing and sprints. Also the higher it is the more room you have below this to improve your thresholds.

The higher the percentage of your maximal aerobic power output at which your lactate thresholds occur the better.

We express your maximal aerobic power output in absolute terms (in other words, the power output that you actually sustained) as well as relative to body weight (w/kg). Your power output relative to your body weight is particularly relevant if you are going to be doing a lot of climbing. Getting your w/kg as high as possible will be important for you!

Maximal aerobic power output is trainable. The best way to do this for long-term results is through long rides at a relatively low intensity. However more recently research has shown good improvements in this variable through shorter, high intensity training.

Lactate Thresholds

During the submaximal test we measure the concentration of lactate in your blood at the end of each stage. Lactate is produced when your body uses carbohydrate as a fuel. When cycling you will be using a combination of fats and carbohydrates as fuel. lactate threshold testing We have a lot longer lasting supply of fats than carbohydrates in our bodies and therefore the more you can use fats, the longer your energy supplies will last.

Fats supply energy slowly to the working muscles, whilst carbohydrate provides a fast supply. At low exercise intensities, much of the energy will be provided by fats. As exercise intensity increases and energy is required at a higher rate, more of the energy will be supplied by carbohydrates.

What we are looking for during this part of the test is to find when you move from using pretty much mainly fats as a fuel, to including a small proportion of carbohydrates, and then when you shift to using pretty much mainly carbohydrates. These points are usually referred to as lactate thresholds.

These two points tell us how well trained you are aerobically and in short, you want to train to shift these points to occur at higher power outputs.

Maximal Oxygen Uptake

The max test gives a measure of your maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2max. This is the greatest amount of oxygen that your body can take up and use. It is a good indicator of your capacity for endurance, however more important for performance is the percentage of this that you can comfortably sustain.

For the purposes of the lab test we look at what percentage of your VO2max your thresholds lie at. Whilst having your thresholds at a high percentage of your VO2max is good, if they are at a very high percentage then to make further improvements you may have to improve your VO2max or become more economical so that you are using less oxygen at any given power output.

In this way the tests highlight what you need to work on to improve your cycling fitness, and ultimately your race performance.

If you don’t know what is limiting you, then how do you know what training to do to improve? Or what intensity to train at for any given session?

Don’t leave it to chance, contact us to book a cycling fitness assessment!

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