Cycling Strengths: How To Create Your Rider Power Profile

– What type of cyclist are you? You might be a mountain
biker, or a cyclocross rider, you might be a track rider,
you might be a unicyclist, you could even be a bicycle gymnast. Or you could be, like
most of us, a road rider. – Yeah, but road riding
is a big category, isn’t it? I mean, within that, you’ve got sprinters, and climbers, and
puncheurs, rouleurs, I mean, the list probably goes on, just my French isn’t quite good enough. Question is, though, do you
know where your strength lies? Which one of those are you? To find out is really quite simple. You will need a power meter on your bike and you’ll then need to do a few tests. And it’s not just about finding out what your functional threshold
power or power to weight is because whilst that is a
decent gage of what level of cyclist you are it
certainly doesn’t give the whole story, it’s not
the be all and end all. – No, absolutely not. Mark
Cavendish, prime example, now his FTP is obviously
very high considering the general spectrum of cyclists. But yet his sprint power
is truly exceptional, and that’s what has made him one of the greatest cyclists of all time. – Right then. To find out
what type of cyclist you are, you’re going to need to do four tests to find out your maximum
power over five seconds, one minute, five minutes, and an hour. – I tell you what, mate,
I’ve just remembered, I’ve actually gotta be
somewhere so just, uh, so yeah, you finish this one yourself mate. We know what type of cyclist Richardson is. He is a wimp cyclist. – Aren’t you interesting. – Let’s start, then,
with the shortest test, which is probably the least
painful, your five second test. Now this one is really very simple, all you need to do after a decent warm up is sprint as hard as you possibly can for a little bit more than five seconds and take the highest average
power over five seconds. And make sure you do it
over a range of cadences and also speed and gradients
until you’ve achieved your highest five second power. You got over triple figures, didn’t it? – Try again. – Try again. – Coming up next we’ve
got our one minute test where we will be finding
out the average power we can sustain for 60 seconds. And most people are probably gonna find if you’re doing this on a
climb, particularly a steep one, it’s gonna yield the best results. Now, in terms of technique, you
need to be mentally prepared for this as much as anything. Because it hurts, you’re gonna
need to be totally committed. The last thing you want is
to then at the end of it feel like you need to
do it all over again, ’cause if nothing else you’re gonna have to wait quite a while until you’re in good enough shape. Okay, you ready? Three, two, one, okay! Now the technique is to
go pretty much full gas from the start and then try and hold on for as long as possible. You will fade but that doesn’t matter. – I’m sure you’re all
getting the hang of this now and so it won’t come as a huge
surprise when I inform you that the five minute test
involves putting as much power out as you can over the
course of five minutes. This one, though, does
require a degree of pacing, because if you start out too
fast, you will pay for it and fade significantly, and
therefore you won’t achieve the highest power of
which you are capable. And once again you’ll probably find this test easiest to do on a climb. – Lastly we have the hour. Now you can ride as hard
as you can for an hour, that would definitely give
you the most accurate result, but it’s hard. Like, really hard, psychologically particularly, to actually get a full hour of power. And so we’d recommend that
you cheat a little bit. I’m not really cheating but
there’s a very good estimation that you can do. So instead of an hour, do twenty minutes as hard as you possibly can and then multiply the result
by null point nine five. Now you may find that it
technically overestimates, you may find that it underestimates. But as long as you keep it consistent, test after test, it’s a pretty good gauge. – Now since all of these
tests are so bloomin’ hard, you can’t really do
them all on the same day and expect to get accurate results. – What? Well now you tell me. – Yeah, sorry. Because you
need to be as fresh as possible for each one to put
out your maximum power. So what you might want
to do is your five second and your five minute tests
separated by half an hour so it’ll be you’re riding on one day, and then a day or two later you can do your one minute
and 20 minute tests. – That does sound like a
better idea, doesn’t it? There is a possible
alternative as well, actually. If you have a good amount
of historical training or even racing data, you may
well find that at some point in the last couple of seasons you will have set a record
five seconds, one minute, five minute all-hour power, in
which case you can use that. – Then you just need to put
all of this historical data in some good training software
such as TrainingPeaks, for example, and it will then regurgitate a critical power curve
for you, which gives you a maximum power at all
durations that you want. Now you are probably wondering
how on Earth you decipher what type of rider that
you are from the tests that you have just done.
And we’re about to tell you. Firstly though you will
need to work out your power to weight ratio for each
of those test durations. That is simply the power that you produced divided by your weight. And make sure you’re
honest with your weight. – Heh, yeah. Then you need to
check out the following table. Now you can get ahold of
it on What you will see there is a
rank of power to weight ratios from the very best cyclists in the world to complete novices. More likely you will
find yourself probably in one of the seven
categories between those two. – It’s important to note
actually with that table at the very top line that’s
there in red is for the best in the world at those specific durations. So going back to our
example of Mark Cavendish, although he’s a sprinter he
wouldn’t rank right at the top of the five second chart
because that is the domain of track sprinters or
perhaps even BMX riders who incidentally have produced some of the highest powers ever recorded. – Yeah, and similarly
with the one minute power that is also likely to be a track rider. A kilo rider like Chris Hoy for example who specialises in one minute power. – Now you’ve done the
power-to-weight ratios for each test. So you want to find the
number that is closest to what you’ve worked out
on the chart and circle it. And after you’ve circled it,
draw a line between each one and the shape of that
line is gonna tell you what type of rider you are. – At last we got there. – We finally got there. You’ve probably got a lot of perseverance if you’re still here. – Yeah. Yeah, hello to whoever’s left. Right, first up then, the horizontal line. – Ooo, purely at a guess, Dan, I’d say it’s probably an all-rounder. Somebody who’s rubbish at everything. – It’s reasonably obvious,
his guess was not that good. – Uh, yeah, somebody that
doesn’t have any weaknesses but likewise doesn’t have a
particular speciality either. It is quite rare though to
have that horizontal line mainly because this chart
does include those specialists such as track sprinters or
Tour de France climbers. Right then, next up what do we have in terms of rider if you’ve
got an upwards slope? – Well you are most likely
to be a time trialist or an exceptionally good
steady-state climber because you are not gonna have any neuromuscular sprint power to speak of and you’re not gonna be all that much cop at one minute power either, so this is probably gonna
leave you in road races feeling a little bit frustrated because you will no doubt
feel like you’re stronger than everyone else, you probably are, you just can’t get rid of them because you can’t accelerate for toffee. So that is why you will look forward to the time trial stages
and stage races perhaps, and also anything with
those big, long climbs. – Yeah, the complete
opposite, then of course, is the gradually descending
slope on the chart and that means you’re
a sprinter, in effect. You’ve got a great neuromuscular power, you’re pretty good anaerobically, but you do start to struggle once you get to the longer climbs. You’re an anaerobic monster, really. So in a road race, you
are going to struggle to keep up with the time
trialist and steady climber from before, but if you do
manage to stay on their wheel, you’re easily going to
out-sprint them at the finish. – I’d call those people pesky, yeah. If I’m completely honest. What, then, if you have an
inverse V as your profile? – Ah, well this was my profile actually when I was racing professionally, so I, so my five second power was
at the top end of “very good”. – Was it really? – Yeah. – My one minute power was exceptional and my five minute power was almost, it was almost world class
and it dropped off slightly for the sprint afterwards. So what that meant was that
I was okay at the long climbs but I struggled a bit, I was
pretty good at the short, sharp climbs, and then but a little bit off the pace in sprints. – A little bit off the pace? – Yeah I was, yeah quite a long way off the pace in the sprints. So I was what you could call a puncheur. – Alright then, and if you
are the opposite of that. So you have a genuine V- shape,
well you’re a rare breed. Highly, really. So rare, in
fact, that we would suggest you might just want to
go and retake the test. Because having a great sprint power and a great aerobic engine
but not very much in between doesn’t make a great deal of sense. – Physiologically speaking. – Does it? So why don’t we
just head out the front door and have another pop at it. – I know that our
viewers will want to know what shape your line is
in in this chart though. – Oh, well, I will tell you. It’s not dissimilar to yours, Dan, except annoyingly my sprint
power is even lower than yours. I couldn’t even out-sprint
myself most days. But on the flip side my
FTP was a smidge higher, so I’m kind of an inverted V but with a, you know, more of a plateau. – Yeah, I would be interested
to know what the demographic of GCN viewers is in
terms of type of rider. Let us know what line
shape you came out with in the comment section just down below. The question though, now,
is once you found out what type of rider you are,
what on Earth do you do? – Wow, this is quite a
philosophical question, isn’t it? And we perhaps don’t have time to go into all that much detail right now, but having discussed it
a little bit beforehand, we think that your strength
needs to be a weapon in order to help you win races. So you need to work on that strength until it is a truly
race-winning capability, but then you also need to make sure that your weaknesses don’t hold you back. So if you are a superstrong
sprinter, but you can never get to the finish line with the front group then clearly the important thing is to work on your weaknesses. However if you are a
superstrong time trialist, but you are an absolutely lousy sprinter, then maybe it’s worth developing
that time trialling ability until that becomes your weapon. – Yeah, I think like you say this is quite an in-depth topic, isn’t it? What on Earth do you do
once you’ve found out what type of rider you are? – Oh I know what we need to do, we need to read some philosophy.
Such as the Art of War. – Yeah, and once we have, I think we should revisit
this in a future video. – Yeah. – Right, well that’s the end
of this particular video. If you have enjoyed it,
please give us the thumbs up just down below, and if
you would like to find out what type of rider you are from a psychological point of view, we’ve got that covered
too. Just down here.

63 Replies to “Cycling Strengths: How To Create Your Rider Power Profile”

  1. No power meter needed, I am very bad up hill, yet I can go all day on the flats. Body composition decides this, just to heavy to be a climber….

  2. Very helpful video. It looks like Im a Suffereur or Slackeur or some combination. But, i agree with one of the earlier comments about seeing if there are better clearer data sources on age and its effect on power output, finding good data on age specific power and training effect norms and the effect of age on the power curve.

  3. I think I'm a sprinter but its annoying because i live in a really hilly area 🙁 my 5 second effort is about 20W/kg but my 5 minute effort is 4.6W/kg which isn't too good?

  4. I always think the times by 0.95 is too generous. I think my power would drop off more than that in the hour. I accept it is the convention though and probably flattering, so I wont complain.

  5. My strength is more downhill coasting, particularly with a tail wind. Sadly, that was missing from this analysis. But using your metrics, I'm more of a puncheur as well (though not as high as either of you). That said, I'd love another video on leveraging strengths in a variety of bike races (e.g., crits, stage races, TT, gran fondos, etc).

  6. From my historic 180 day data I'm a V so I guess I need to do a propper test. Not liking that my 1 min power is off the bottom of the graph 🙁

  7. I'm the same weight and height as adam Yates. Ok I'm 1 – 2kg more, but whatever… I just lack the climbing ability of his, but I'll end up a climber when I have ridden for a couple of years. I've only ridden for 2 months.

  8. Damn I got a V-shape, but I think my 1min value is not correct. I guess I will end up with an ascending line.

  9. I haven't taken the tests, but i easely out power my friends on danish hills, but they can follow me on the flat.

  10. Power by definition is related to weight, altitude/elevation change, and inversely related to time. A better bike will be more efficient but for any given bike you have your equation. Bike and rider = 90kg, 100m climb, in 30' will give you 300, so here is your cheap power meter, it doesn't matter what this 300 is in units but you have a measurement to compare. 60 x 50 / 30 = 100, or 1/3 the power. Weigh your self and the bike, have an accurate stop watch, and an altitude meter (most expensive device needed).

    Now sprinting is about acceleration, and that 5" test is about acceleration, change of velocity. Now other than power, any drag racer will tell you this, you need skill and efficient transmission. You make the correct gear changes at the right time and as quickly as they can be done and you maximize acceleration. So, the 5" test to eliminate this variable should be done on one gear. Whether a standing start or a rolling start you have to pick the right gear. Now the 1' should be done on a steady climb.

  11. I'm barely a "Rideur"…I look at speed bumps with dread of the incline let alone any hills or mountains. And the only things i sprint for is cake…and the loo.

  12. I looked over my Golden Cheetah bests which where were all set this summer. I have the V line but I wonder if my five second power is legit. I recorded one one ride a very high power number (not huge definitely a best for me) and then on another ride my PM shows a similar power level held for a bit longer and that set my 5 second power best. My 1 minute power:weight is low but the 5 and hour power:weight numbers level off frise up and then level off — indicating an all – 'rounder.

  13. I have peaked 3300 watts in a rowing machine in two tries once but did only around 1000w in a windgate test on a test bike(peaked 205rpm then hit the resistance at absolute maximum effort and fade, 30 sec at resistance) . It was a bad day in general, and two days after strength training, and the test was done too early in the morning. I could really go on and on about my more or less bad excuses but a professional Swedish American footballer (yeah I know that is wierd), a heavy sprinter, kicked out 1600w in his peak, and then dropped very much. That's a great peak, but I think both of us should have even higher. Does anyone know how rowing and cycling power compares? Is windgate good for testing peaks? The test bike is awful and you stay seated all the time. I weigh the same as Marcel Kittel but have 5-10 kg more fat than him.

  14. Isn't there some way to analyze historical data (using estimates) over different types of rides to get a rough idea of what type of rider you are? A power meter is not something I'm ever likely to have.

  15. Should my profile be obvious from the beginning? I have been commuting for a few years so I rarely spent any time above zone 3. I'm wondering if this affects the fact that my 5min, 1min and 5sec are weak because I never trained them.

  16. According to the sufferfest 4DP test I am currently a PURSUITER. In previous tests ROULEUR came out the test. All done on an Indoor trainer. ON the road, It corresponds to what I can do during club training.

  17. It would be really interesting to hear how these results change with age. I am 56 and my recorded one-hour and five-minute power-to-weight ratios are right in the middle of moderate, but my one minute and five second ratios are down at the bottom of novice one. Anecdotal evidence suggests this is common with the riders I know: as we age, we lose our sprinting capability while retaining a favorable threshold power. I know we still enjoy blowing the doors off of surprised kids half our age, who have no racing background and expected to show grandpa how it is done.

  18. iBeing 51 years old now, I just got back into road riding. I had never paid any attention to any type of riding, just miles and the ride. but lately when i ride for a few miles, i feel my legs come in, for lack of better words. I can spin real good, and then I try some top speeds to see what I can do. but I have to build up to it.

  19. Or just use the Sufferfest training app. Which gives you an easy to understand power profile and rider category via a single 4DP profile test. Its a shame that you didn't give Sufferfest a shout out when its such an obvious callout for this video. Oversight? Or is it just that they don't sponsor the channel and you seemingly only do paid promotions these days? 🙁

  20. “I couldn’t even out-sprint myself”

    British humor is just better than everyone else. It just makes me sad that I’ll never be that humorous.

  21. Ok so fresh with a power meter I tested a 5s peak at 1515w and 5m at 435w. I got nearly a horizontal line. And I am pretty sure that is quite fcked up because 435w is not very good but 1515w on road is damn near world class. Also I have only done proper training for less than a year and I know that 5m power can increase while 1515w is quite stuck.

    Update I found a way to get a 5s 1638w (and also 1620w) before which changes my chart a bit.

  22. None of them… I can put huge watts on the pedal for like 10-15 secs sprints and win them but it´s a whole other issue after 80k or more… when, btw I lost so much time on climbing that my sprint would be worthless, even if i could take it on then…
    I did lots of track and field training in the past and was a 100m runner so sprinting and speed is my love and always will be! ♥ Cycling´s also much better for my knees! When I watch grand tours or races with serious climbs and see the pro´s climbing, I have to admit that this is more than suspicious! Nobody goes up a climb like they do without beeing juiced.

  23. Moses' Moustache! Quite a lot of thought went into this,
    (along with some seemingly embarrassing confessions
    of where you both stand in the cycling echelons). I have noticed, in all of you, actually,
    there's no lack of self-deprecation in the GCN presenters. Very refreshing among intelligent people. Well, done.

  24. Thanks for pointing out the BMX-riders in the short term power output. Seriously all forms of bmx require a stupid amount of explosive short term power 🙂 regards, old BMX-guy

  25. I had a similar profile to the presenters, surprising because I come from a Triathlon background. I thought i'd be more weighted to the hr power.

  26. The power profiles you propose are, in my opinion, only relevant for mountain riding. However, when riding on flat terrain such as on the cycling track this table and profiles will lose any sense. Absolute value counts on the flat and therefore an absolute table should be created. Why? There are two reasons. In the first case, it may turn out that someone has higher watts / kg, and will not win the competition at 1 km on the track. This is because in flat terrain body weight is quite negligible for the achieved speeds. I myself can serve as a second example. Looking at watts / kg body weight it turns out that I'm a good attacker in the mountains. I mean 5 minutes peak power. However, if you transfer the same peak power to the cycling track and start in the competition for 4 km and take into account the absolute power, which is 350 W, it would not be an impressive result and I would not rather take a high place. So I depicted the whole situation and until someone develops a table with absolute powers, all talking about power profiles does not make the slightest sense for most riders.

  27. Need more videos like this! I'm quite surprised by this… I thought I was more of a sprinter, but I'm an inverted V without question, hovering around moderate/good.

  28. I don't have a power meter. If I do these tests on an indoor trainer at a gym, which does have a power meter, will I get proper results? Would the natural setting significantly change results (and especially in proportion to each other)?

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