Last week I outlined a very simple, yet highly effective, test that triathletes who train with power, can incorporate into their program.

The Critical Power test over 30 minutes (CP30) is designed to determine what the average power output an individual can hold for a 30 minute period is.

The beauty of this test is:

  • it is a very simple test to do on your own
  • you do not require expensive equipment (assuming you have your power meter already)
  • results are simple to evaluate and implement into your training program.
  • it is a fantastic tool for tracking your performance improvements on a regular basis (every 4-8 weeks

Today I will delve deeper into the workings of the test itself and provide you with the steps necessary to complete the test - from warm up to cool down.

Before we get started, have a quick look at this checklist:
  • Make sure you have roughly 90 minutes available to complete this test.
  • Ensure you have fluids and nutrition close at hand.
  • Ensure you are in a well ventilated area.
  • Check your power meter is functioning optimally (if you are using a Computrainer, make sure you calibrate it before starting the test).
  • Have you heart rate monitor close at hand - the more information you can gather the better.

Let's get things rolling.

The warm up:
  • 40 minutes steady riding at an intensity that does not allow for the accumulation of Lactic Acid.
  • 20 minutes steady state riding in the Aero position with 6 X 20 pedal revolutions pick ups at >120rpm
  • 5 minutes easy spinning and recovering, taking on fluids and nutrition.
The test:

Remember: The goal of the test is to maintain as constant a Power output as possible, from the start to finish.

It is better start out slightly more conservatively, than go out to hard an blow yourself up half way through the test.
  • 30 minutes as hard as you can go, at a consistent pace from start to finish.
  • Try to replicate race conditions (Gear selection, cadence and cycling position).
  • Upon completion of the test, record all the relevant information from the test, including:
    1: Average Wattage
    2: Average cadence
    3: Average speed
    4: Average Heart rate
    5: Energy expended
The most important piece of information is your average power output for the 30 minutes. The other pieces are more for comparative purposes, when you repeat the test in a few weeks time.

The cool down:
Take 5 - 10 minutes of easy spinning to flush out the lactic acid, and allow the body to cool down.

Well done on getting through the hard part of the process. Next Thursday I will describe how to use the test data and apply it to your training and racing.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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