Is this the hardest test you can do on a bike? (video)

Despite being only three minutes long, the critical power test could well be the hardest physiological test you can do in cycling – but why should you put yourself through the pain?
Playlist 20 Videos Is this the hardest test you can do on a bike? (video) 02:58 April's Tech of the Month: Canyon Aeroad with SRAM AXS, new Vittoria tyres and Fulcrum wheels 26:29 Watch: Taking on the toughest climbs of the Tour of Flanders 13:52 The Lead Out: April 2019 - Cobbled Classics preview 36:50 The Lead Out: March 2019 - Milan-San Remo preview 34:48 March's Tech of the Month: Pinarello, new Specialized shoes, DT Swiss wheels and Evoc's bike bag 27:06 Watch: Tour of Oman 2019 stage four highlights 05:38 Watch: Tour of Oman 2019 stage three highlights 05:36 Watch: Tour of Oman 2019 stage two highlights 06:33 Watch: Tour of Oman 2019 stage one highlights 05:31 The Lead Out: February 2019 - Sprinter's special, UAE Tour & Omloop Het Nieuwsblaad preview 24:07 February's Tech of the Month: new kit from Castelli, Le Col, Smith and Triban 24:22 Greg Van Avermaet to ride a gold Giant TCR in 2019 (video) 01:00 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage six highlights 05:38 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage five highlights 00:00 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage four highlights 00:00 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage three highlights 05:25 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage two highlights 05:23 Watch: Tour Down Under 2019 stage one highlights 04:49 Watch: Top five Strava cheats (video) 04:41

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.

>>> Watch – Training zones: what are they and why do they matter?

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.