Athlete profiling. Sounds weird. It kind of is. It’s essentially the compiling of an athletes numbers and data to make them go faster.
There is safety in numbers as the saying goes. This is very much the case in performance sport. It’s a different interpretation however. The safety the numbers provide in this context are the training zones and intensities. The numbers allow for intensity distribution and load management enabling the program to maximize gains in performance and minimize risk of injury or burnout. Athlete profiling is therefore the data recipe for success!
There are an infinite number of test sets and time trials that a coach can give their athletes but the best tests are those that provide the greatest, most relevant data for the least training disruption.
*It must be noted however that the numbers from athlete profiling typically come from test which are often in lab conditions. Therefore not necessarily true indicators of performance. This is especially the case for triathletes who will be tested in each discipline in isolation but do not complete the disciplines in isolation come race day. Therefore use athlete profiling to create a data-driven program but don’t let the numbers dictate the performance level of athletes. It’s the race results not the lab data that count ultimately*
For the bike there are generally two approaches (both using an indoor turbo/watt bike) that I would advocate. One approach is to do both a 3min test and a 20min test. The other option is the 3min Max All Out Test (MAOT)
The 3min MAOT
The 3min MAOT means going max from the gun with no pacing allowed. It will give you a lower average power (than if you judged your effort) but it will give you some very useful data. Notably it will give you a critical power value. This is the essentially the maximal power output that you can sustain without significantly altering physiological conditions. The reason it gives you this is because you completely deplete your reserves very quickly when you sprint all out. It’s hypothesized that after ~150seconds of maximal effort power output will level off and settle if you continue to go all out. Therefore the final 30seconds of this test are believed to provide very useful data. The average power of this last 30seconds is the Critical Power. This value separates power outputs that can be sustained with stable physiological values (muscle phosphocreatine, blood lactate and VO2 etc) from power outputs where these variables change continuously with time. To my mind critical power is not dissimilar to lactate threshold but I’m sure there are physiology boffins out there who would disagree.
3min and 20min tests
Watt bike and British Cycling would call these Maximal Aerobic Power and Functional Threshold Power tests respectively. These tests both generate a wealth of data that on their own are hugely valuable. The real value here however comes from Power Modelling. No it’s nothing to do with power poses, it’s using the work of physiologist named Monod who formulated a means of predicting a cyclists power outputs based on two or (ideally) three average powers. The line of best fit generated from the inputs allows you to accurately predict what power a cyclist will be able to hold for a given duration. It also calculates critical power and can generate training zones.
Both approaches are very useful to generate data that you can implement into the training programs of athletes and fine-tune their training to maximize their progression.
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