Triathlon – Cycling: test your engine!

We can build a Power Profile gradually according to HIIT training sessions, races or long rides. The racing context is special because it is an occasion during which we can sometimes develop powers higher than usual (despite the presence of a peloton).

In training, is it advisable to record maximal powers for each PPR interval time as in a PP Test [1]? Probably not in my opinion but a maximal effort test to obtain the value of Peak Power Output or VO2 max. is a necessary basis for different reasons.

The laboratory incremental cycling test:

The laboratory incremental cycling test is organized in a hospital environment with the assistance of physiological specialists and a cardiologist. The ideal is to be evaluated on your own bike installed on a home trainer and with a powermeter (pedal or HT but well-calibrated). The use of an SRM ergometer also guarantees the quality of the measurements.

The cyclist is equipped with a system for measuring oxygen consumption (the main limiting factor in endurance, VO2 max.): It is a mask fitted with sensors analyzing the inputs and outputs of oxygen, all connected to a computerized measurement system.

In addition, the athlete is equipped with a heart rate monitor for measuring cardiac activity.

During the test, regular measurement of lactatemia (production of blood lactate) is carried out to define the different ventilatory threshold.

This test provides various data:

  • Oxygen consumption by measuring the difference between oxygen inputs and outputs as explained above. Unfortunately, this value does not help the coach when he creates a training program.
  • Rest and maximum heart rates, HR at the 2 respiratory thresholds, recovery capacity: how quickly does the heart rate return to normal?
  • Maximum Aerobic Power, power at the 2 thresholds and PMax, maximum power during a sprint.
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The test takes place in the following form:

  • A 20-minute warm-up,
  • An evaluation of the maximum power with 3 maximal sprints of 7 seconds and 5 minutes of recovery between,
  • The VO2 max test starts at 100 W and the power increases by 30 W every 2 min, keeping the pedaling cadence free until exhausting. A lactate level measurement can be performed at the end of each power level completed.

This test is a necessity for all competitors, men or women. Historically, I only “medically” tested men, but we now know that women, by taking oral contraception, are also regularly prone to cardiovascular disorders. The athlete's health comes first!!

Frédéric HURLIN -

[1] Simulation of a race final for the establishment of a preliminary PPR, Rémy Deutsch - Alexandre Abel - Julien Pinot - Fréderic Grappe

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