A beginner’s guide to cycling testing

Traditionally, cycling testing has been reserved for sport science laboratories where a qualified sport scientist is on hand to tell you every detail about your ride. But what if you’re an amateur cyclist with little opportunity to visit a sport science facility, should you miss out on the information that could help you implement a more effective training plan?

Wattbike don’t think so! They’ve put together this simple beginner’s guide to help you start testing in a safe way, which could ultimately lead to improvements in your performance.

How can testing help?

For the amateur cyclist, testing can open up a new world of measuring and analysing your performance. Testing can help you in the following way:

    1. Testing helps you set training zones so you can train effectively

Undertaking a test at the start of your training plan will provide baseline performance figures – from these you can work out personalised training zones using our online calculator.

Personalised training zones ensure you are working at the exact intensity that’s right for your physiology. They ensure that each and every pedal stroke counts towards achieving your goals.

    2. Testing can help you monitor changes in your fitness

As you progress through your training plan you will expect to see an improvement in your performance. While feeling stronger and having more endurance are good indicators of your fitness improving, testing will provide reliable data for you to analyse so you can truly see the impact of a training plan on your fitness.

Undertaking a test regularly throughout your training can help you identify and evaluate your short, medium and long-term goals.

    3. Testing can help you measure the effectiveness of your training plan

The aim of a training plan is to help you reach a specific goal, for example, completing the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100. However, part way through your training plan, you may not see the expected improvements in performance.

So, what should you do? First thing’s first, you should measure the effectiveness of your training plan by testing at regular intervals, for example each month, or after each phase of training.

If your figures such as heart rate and power output do not improve after each phase of training, it may be time to re-evaluate your training plan. You could try adding in some of the optional amber and red sessions to really push yourself and you should start to see some marginal gains.

How to start testing

Ok, so now you know the benefits of testing, where do you start? Take a look at the tests below to figure out which one you need:

Submaximal ramp test

What is it: The submaximal ramp test is designed to gives a benchmark level of fitness and can be used to estimate maximum minute power and maximum heart rate.

When to use it: If you’ve not tested before, but you’re exercising on a regular basis, this is the first test you should attempt. It will provide all the benchmark figures you need to start analysing your performance.

The three-minute test

What is it: The three-minute test is an aerobic test designed to estimate maximum minute power and maximum heart rate.

When to use it: The three-minute test is the perfect test to undertake at the start of your training plan.

The 10-minute test

What is it: The 10-minute test is a sub-maximal test which is less fatiguing than the three minute test.

When to use it: The 10-minute test is a great mid- training plan test to check your progress.

A Wattbike is the perfect partner for cycling testing because it delivers all the data you need, such as maximum minute power and maximum heart rate, all in one place. To find out more about the Wattbike, visit or visit the Wattbike finder to find a Wattbike near you!