It’s been since last October that I’ve done an fitness or FTP test. After a good warmup you go as hard as possible for 20 minutes. Then use a calculator to figure out what your heart rate or power meter zones should be for training. This personalizes you training zones not just to your body but to your body at this time.
As we improve our fitness our muscles get stronger and more efficient. This applies to the heart as much as the bicep or hamstring. In aerobic training the focus is one getting the heart to maintain a high level of output while being as efficient as possible. Science has shown that training the heart at a percentage below maximum is best for improving the hearts capabilities.
If you are interested in this stuff I recommend researching Joe Friel. He wrote the book on this stuff and is a very successful athlete and coach. He created TrainingPeaks.com which is software for compiling your workout data and then analyzing it.
Personally I’m touch and go with this level of training. It has the ability to wipe out all the fun of bike riding. It also has the ability to make you into a jerk. Currently I’m back on the wagon because we have a house being built and this will help distract me from thinking about that too much. There are also going to be bike races this year and I’m thinking of doing some of them.
That said while I’m going to be following my workout routine I’m not going to be obsessed with it. I’m going to do my best to get all the workouts done first. Then I’ll try to hit the goals of each one.
One big change this year is that I’m using Apple Fitness+ to help me with the strength workouts. Last year I was using my body weight workout routine which works great but it’s too cold outside to do that just now. Instead I’ve started using the Functional Strength workouts in Fitness+ and let me say this: ouch.
I did my first class yesterday and I’m still sore. Turns out that you need to keep doing squats and deadlifts in order to be able to keep doing them. I was so sore this morning I was a little worried about being able to do the ride.
The good news is that once I was on my bike the magic kicked into gear. Sure it was 30F and I had pretty much all my cycling gear on but I was grinning ear to ear the whole ride. One thing I was taught years ago in sports was to smile. It throws your competitors off but also gives you a psychological boost. If you can smile then it can’t be that bad.
It is recommended that you try to do your fitness tests on the same route to reduce variations and try to keep the results neutral. My route starts on road 40. It’s about 4 miles from my house and gives me a nice warmup to get to it. Then I use road 40 to push myself as hard as possible.
It’s a nice route because it doesn’t have a lot of traffic and it is uphill. Another recommendation is to have a route that climbs a little so that the challenge is more consistent. There are a few sections you may call steep but in Colorado that’s just a hill!😂
At the top of my route you take a right into the Nordic Center parking lot and then onto the roads and trails of the Nordic Center. Unfortunately there is still snow in the Nordic Center so the top end of my route is not yet rideable.
So today when I got to road 40 I kept going on by. This gave me a nice downhill to spin my legs out on and further my warm up. A couple miles down is the turnoff for road 41. I turned around there and started my test from there. This gave me a few miles on pavement before hitting the dirt on road 40. It was a perfect call as I hit 20 minutes about half a mile before the Nordic center and had a solid effort.
Some instructions for a good fitness test is to go hard in the first 10 minutes but keep it back just a touch from full effort. Once you hit 10 minutes you reassess how things are going. Do you feel good or are you starting to wane?
If you feel good then you should continue what you have going and consider stepping things up a bit. Remember there’s still 10 minutes left so you have to do what you just did. You want to finish the test strong.
If you are starting to wane then consider pulling back a little. Give it a minute or two and reassess how that feels. Again the goal is to finish strong not spent. It’s only a 20 minute test so you should not be collapsing before the finish. After the finish?