Fitness Tests for Triathletes and Cyclists

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Got back on the bike this morning for the first time in 2012. I actually felt really good. Now in the past I have shared the specs of my rides, and I love the accountability that it provides. All I can say about my performance this morning is be gentle — it was the first ride in a while. I did ride on my CycleOps Pro 300PT, so I have power data from the integrated PowerTap.

Distance: 20.5 miles
Time: 0:59:57
Average Watts: 148 watts
Normative Power: 144 watts
Average Heart Rate: 151 bpm
Total Work: 591 kJ
Average Speed: 19.3 mph

Not a great workout if you just take it for the numbers. In context, it was a decent ride. I stretched my legs out and just kept a steady pace. I did watch a little Arrested Development, so it wasn’t a total loss. Man I do love that show.

Housekeeping

I was recently contacted by the marketing folks at PureFit Nutrition Bars (click here to check out their site) to sample their product and write a review. Just so you know Emily, I got them today and I will be reviewing them later in the week. You guys know I am a die-hard ProBar fan — they set a pretty high bar. But I will be happy to use the product while riding or running this week and then write up my thoughts. Their nutrition bars contain no wheat, are gluten-free, and are dairy free. They also produce bars that are vegan — I think this will be an interesting product for sure.

Fitness Tests for Triathletes and Cyclists

www.26.2ismycooldown.comI can see some of you now rolling your eyes — the only fitness test I need is what the stopwatch says at the end of 6.2 miles while running or after a 26 mile time trial on my bike. Let me respectfully disagree. In the industry that I am in, it is generally accepted that there are five components of fitness: muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and body composition. As cyclists, runners, and triathletes I think we have the muscular endurance on lock-down (thank you gal who played Dorcas at the Jackson Hole Theater production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 2011 for that one). But many of us seem to fail when it comes to muscular strength and flexibility.

To combat that I am lifting weights during this winter. I am trying really hard to improve my core strength specifically by working out with my buddy Danny. That does mean I am riding my bike in the early a.m. and then lifting at night. It is a tough schedule, but I think the results will be worth it when the season rolls around.

To monitor our progress and improvements running we may measure our performance on a preferred course. On the bike, we may do the same. Personally, I like to test my running on a track and my biking riding up a local favorite hill, like Suncrest. But to put the rest of the components of fitness to the test, we need to use a different protocol.

One of my good friends is a strength and conditioning coach in Kentucky and he passed on a test called the “300 Test” after the movie by the same title. The protocol is pretty simple — you do as many sets in order of the following exercises as you can in 20 minutes. Here they are:

5 Pull-Ups
20 Push-Ups
20 Full Sit-Ups
20 Deep Squats with quads parallel to ground using 45# bar

As part of the test, there are three things that can make you fail — running out of time, failing to complete a set, and using poor form. To count as one revolution, you need to complete all the required reps of all four exercises. If you cannot complete one of the exercises, you cannot move on to something else and then come back after resting that muscle group. The squats are much deeper than most people do. You have to get the top of your quads parallel to the ground.

I tried it on Saturday and I will tell you, it was rough. There wasn’t one area where I had muscle failure, but from the beginning I noticed my lack of cardio fitness. My legs did get tired in the middle of the third set, but I suspect that the deep squats were much further and deeped than I am used to going either when running or biking.

I got six sets in. While not bad, I was shooting for eight. I think I have ten inside of me. My goal will be to pump out 10 sets by Valentine’s Day.

The reason I like this fitness assessment is it uses mostly body weight for resistance. I use weights in my workouts, but this test really gets down to the core of our fitness levels as endurance athletes.

What do you use to measure your fitness levels? Do you have a protocol you like to use?

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...