How hard is a physiological test for cyclists?
A physiological test or VO2 max test for cyclists are extremely tough but your reward is a wealth of data to help advance your training and performance. It will literally bring you to your knees! Most physiological tests or VO2 max tests are conducted in sports science labs in many locations throughout the UK and Ireland for cyclists. It is a very simple test. Basically, you get on the bike and pedal until you can no longer pedal anyone.
The science bit around a physiological test
For every VO2 max test, you need to arrive rested and well hydrated. If you are not at your best then the numbers will be off and not worth the effort or the money. You will ride a stationary bike with an oxygen mask attached to your face. The effort increases every 3 minutes and in between blood samples are taken. These blood samples provide a reading on your lactate. This lactate threshold number can be very useful to progress your competitive fitness. So in terms of your road cycling training, is it worth putting your cycling fitness to the test in this manner?
All that VO2 max data
The interesting aspect of all riders is the hunger for data. Not what to do with it but how to get it. This test will produce more data than you can shake a stick at. The question to consider is what numbers are you looking for? What do you want to change for next year? Maybe to ride further? Probably to ride faster! And to be more competitive? Loughborough University Sports Science department have a great blog post on “Why do a cycling fitness test?”.
Therefore, it is worth 2 minutes of your time to read the blog post to help make up your mind. Pro tip: For sportive riders, only consider a physiological test, VO2 max test, if you are going to have a coach on your team. And understanding all the numbers and implementing them in training takes coaching knowledge and expertise. In conclusion, if you really want more insight into all the numbers then you must read the blog post by coach Brian Mac. He provides some incredibly useful calculators. Plus his section on Athletes VO2 max scores shows amazing numbers. What is more amazing is that I would have made this list with my recorded VO2 max when I was 18.
Maybe I will release my numbers to show why I never won the Tour de France……