Testing

Wattbike for Testing

If you are serious about your performance in any sport, then you need to test yourself regularly.

If you want to improve as an athlete or as a rider then you will need to train.  But how do you know if the training is working?  You may feel quicker or stronger, but how much quicker are you and how much stronger are you?  The way to find out is through regular testing of your abilities and current performance.

Regular testing will give us vital clues about what works for a certain rider and what does not.  Whilst there are many training techniques and approaches, what works for one, may not work for another.  By applying a training stress over a period of 4-8 weeks, recovering and then testing we can get a good indication of how effective that training period was.  Did performance improve dramatically?  If so, let’s continue to use these techniques until testing shows a plateau in progress.  Then we know that we need to change things to continue to get results.

Many people will try and make this over-complicated and full of jargon, which (you may have noticed) is really not my style!  It can be really simple, out riding your bike, or super high tech in a sports lab hooked up to all sorts of machines, with plenty of options in between………

At the simplest end of the scale, you may have a local hill or loop that you ride regularly and you can time yourself on.  Assuming no traffic issues and similar conditions you can get a good idea of increases or decreases in fitness by keeping a log of your times for the climb or loop.  Dare I say it????? Strava could be pretty handy here!

Another simple test to measure increases in explosive power after a period of strength training is the vertical jump test.  It does exactly what you would expect, and the athlete performs a standing jump up against a wall.  The height jumped is recorded.  A rider with better power to weight ratio will jump higher, so it is easy to show progress and you can do this at home on your own.

At the high tech end of our available options are the sports science labs offering VO2 Max tests, lactate tests and all sorts of other analysis.  These provide you with a wealth of information, but without professional help it is hard to make the most of it and to apply it in creating an effective training plan.  The tests can be quite unpleasant and also be rather invasive in some instances.

Then there is the middle ground.  Measuring power output in Watts, either with a power meter on your bike or on a Wattbike is a real world expression of how much work you are able to do and for how long.  It relates directly to your mountain biking performance and is very specific in its cross over.  For this reason, I have just purchased a Wattbike for use with my athletes this season and beyond.  There are several types of testing that I can perform with them depending on whether they are an explosive 4X rider or a marathon XC racer that will enable to me to accurately track their training progress and adjust their programmes accordingly.  It is also very useful for accurately setting up their training zones for use with a heart rate monitor, meaning that the training they do will be accurately targeted at specific physical outcomes rather than guessing how hard they are going.

Finally, the one benefit that I believe is really under-rated about testing is the confidence that it can give an athlete.  If, a week before a big event you are tested and beat your previous scores, you know that you are going into that event fit and strong and that you will have the best possible chance of performing.  Knowing this will help hugely with confidence and a confident rider is a fast rider!

Wattbike testing is also available to riders who are not coached by MTB Strength Factory – just get in touch with Ben.  ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com

Stay Strong

Ben