There are a number of physiological tests that you can complete on a bike, such as VO2 max, lactate threshold and functional threshold power tests.

These alone are known to send shivers down the spines of most cyclists. However the lesser known critical power test could well be the test that tops them all when it comes to the dread factor.

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At just three minutes in duration it may not seem long at first but if completed correctly those 180 seconds should drag on way longer than is physically comfortable.

The test begins with the participant sprinting to a maximal effort, before attempting to maintain this intensity for the remaining three minutes without pacing. In other words, replicating a three minute sprint.

This test isn’t purely done for sheer torture as the results do possess some useful analysis that can be helped for future performances and training. These include:

  • Defining peak power levels over the range of one minute.
  • Helping predict how long and hard you can ride above your critical power level without significantly affecting your anaerobic work capacity, meaning you can pace much more accurately, which will pay off when it matters most in a race situation.
  • Identifying whether a rider is more suited to sprinting or time trialling or whether they are more efficient at producing power in or out of the saddle.

  • nortonpdj

    Because you will certainly die, I suppose….
    In fact, anyone over 45 would have more sense.

  • Simon Barnes

    Did this test make the rider more successful…? Or just accumulate another layer of questionable data….?

  • Alex Simmons

    Why was my previous comment removed? This test is unreliable as an indicator of CP when performed in isokinetic mode on these trainers.

  • William Evan Thomas

    Wingate tests (30 and 60 second) are designed to test maximal power, mean maximal power and fatigue profile. Usually, the 30 second test is chosen, due to the fact that many can’t complete a 60 second effort. A three minute sprint is not possible without pacing the last few minutes. Believe me, the subject knows they have to last for three minutes…It’s not a blind test after all.

  • George Pym

    Yes, you back off out of necessity. I’m not sure what cross-bridging is, but it sounds like you’re not convinced that the test involves the participatent to go maximal from the start. This is the protocol. Read up on it if you wish.

  • William Evan Thomas

    That is not correct. You can’t propely do a 1-minute Wingate + 2 minutes without pacing. You’d have to back off to finish. The accumulation of protons would shut down cross bridging, if you go maximal from the start. Heck, most can’t even complete a 1-minute Wingate test.

  • J1

    Ain’t nobody holding sprint power for 3 minutes. I think Wattbike have better tests.

  • Jdog

    That guy has great teeth

  • George Pym

    It’s not a 3 minute maximal effort as such; you start as hard as you can, and simply hold on for grim death – there’s no pacing strategy involed. You could think of it as a 1 minute Wingate test + 2 minutes. It’s awful.

  • Chuck6421

    Seems like more drama than useful information.
    Why not treat your audience like grownups?

  • William Evan Thomas

    No, the one minute Wingate is the worst. A three minute maximal effort is approximately 50% aerobic.

  • Simon F

    Why not over 45?

  • Mike Prytherch