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VO2 Max/FTP Tests: Indoor Trainer or Outdoors?

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VO2 Max/FTP Tests: Indoor Trainer or Outdoors?

Old 06-02-10, 09:57 AM
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VO2 Max/FTP Tests: Indoor Trainer or Outdoors?

I'm comng up on my first serious FTP and VO2 Max power tests. I've been thinking about where to do these, and the following come to mind:

1. Indoor trainer -- Very easy to repeat all the conditions of the test every time you re-test. But, probably pretty difficult to get and keep the effort at VO2 Max for the duration of the test. (Am I right there?)

2. Outdoors -- Find a big hill and the VO2 Max effort will be easy to attain and maintain. But, very difficult -- maybe impossible --to get good repeatability of testing conditions (wind, temperature, traffic, dogs, sun/cloud/radiant heat, etc.).

For those who train with power and who are serious about getting good test data -- how do the plusses and minusses balance out? I like riding outdoors better, but "like" doesn't necessarily get you the best data. If you have a choice, what do you do?
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Old 06-02-10, 10:04 AM
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Personally, I prefer to test outdoors. You're trainging to ride outdoors, so the test should replicate what you're trianing for.

Also for me, my FTP is always higher testing outdoors than in.

Find a good course without traffic control devices, and low traffic, and the various confounders shouldn't be a big issue.
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Old 06-02-10, 10:47 AM
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I test indoors on my rollers because for me it's more critical to get a good comparison between tests. If my ftp shows a little low compared to outside, that is fine as long as it's consistent.
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Old 06-02-10, 10:51 AM
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I did both and my trainer FTP was higher. Don't know why. Maybe because it was easier to focus on my technique whereas outside I also had to pay attention to the environment. GL
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Old 06-02-10, 10:53 AM
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how you gonna measure it outdoors? or indoors for that matter?
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Old 06-02-10, 11:08 AM
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I bought the Carmichael Training System (CTS) progressive Power DVD series to do on the trainer in the winters and he uses an indoor 8 minute FTP test (instead of a 20 min test) to establish the different training zones and to measure progress. This works much better for me on the trainer. It is torture to do a 20 min test on the trainer but 8 minutes is pretty doable.

I have easy to access to very quiet country roads but it still is difficult to find a 20 minute outdoor section of roads without interuptions (stop signs, intersections, wind, no downhill sections, etc.). There are definitely advantages to indoor testing.
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Old 06-02-10, 11:22 AM
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Outdoors. Who wants to sit inside in the summer sweating buckets? As long as you use the same course every time it's accurate enough for an FTP test. 5 or 10 Watts either way is not going to make a significant difference in how you train anyways.

As far as a VO2Max test, I always assumed you needed to do that in a lab.
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Old 06-02-10, 11:30 AM
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Stationary trainer on the back of a pickup truck. Best of both worlds.
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Old 06-02-10, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by colombo357 View Post
Stationary trainer on the back of a pickup truck. Best of both worlds.
Pure awesome.
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Old 06-02-10, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
As far as a VO2Max test, I always assumed you needed to do that in a lab.
yup.
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Old 06-02-10, 12:59 PM
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To get closer to accurate, you do the VO2 Max test in a lab.

To get an approximation, you do a 5-minute puke-your-guts-out, maximum effort test.
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Old 06-02-10, 01:00 PM
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MAP tests on the trainer for me (you need a very controlled environment where training partners can yell at you and tell you when to ramp).

For 20' tests, or any duration tests, it's outside for me. I get consistent results regardless of wind and hills. You should learn to hold power on a descent as long as it's less than ~3%. The only outdoor factor that will really impact results is temperature. God help my power meter if it's raining though, I always fly in the rain.
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Old 06-02-10, 01:00 PM
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MAP tests on the trainer for me (you need a very controlled environment where training partners can yell at you and tell you when to ramp).

For 20' tests, or any duration tests, it's outside for me. I get consistent results regardless of wind and hills. You should learn to hold power on a descent as long as it's less than ~3%. The only outdoor factor that will really impact results is temperature. God help my power meter if it's raining though, I always fly in the rain.
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Old 06-02-10, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Outdoors. Who wants to sit inside in the summer sweating buckets?
Here in TX, it's hitting 95 and humid every day outside vs. 75 in the house with a huge fan blowing on me. Sweating hapening either way, but it's much easier to keep a consistent body temp indoors test to test.

Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
As long as you use the same course every time it's accurate enough for an FTP test. 5 or 10 Watts either way is not going to make a significant difference in how you train anyways.
My struggle is with traffic lights. I can do a 20 minute ftp test and not hit a single light, or I might hit 5+ of them. All that time at zero watts plus the starting and stopping screw me up. I'd argue it could skew results of a 20' test by more than 10 watts (zeros add up quickly). If you have a nice open road, it's probably easier to be consistent.

Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post

As far as a VO2Max test, I always assumed you needed to do that in a lab.
I think OP is referring to VO2 level efforts/intervals, not an actual scientific VO2 test.


The only downside I see to doing tests on a trainer/rollers is that time on my rollers is less fun and mentally harder for me. I'd much rather be riding outside. Also, I can't do effective 1' or 5" tests on my rollers, so I do those outside.
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Old 06-02-10, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
Personally, I prefer to test outdoors. You're trainging to ride outdoors, so the test should replicate what you're trianing for.

Also for me, my FTP is always higher testing outdoors than in.

Find a good course without traffic control devices, and low traffic, and the various confounders shouldn't be a big issue.
+1
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Old 06-02-10, 09:29 PM
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wingate is a good test of cycling power.

for vo2max the protocol is simple. If you are fit start at 100 watts and increase the workload by 50 watts every 3 minutes.


100, 150, 200, 250, 300, ... If you are in shape and a large person you may go higher. If you are less fit or a small person start at 50 watts and go up 50 every 3 minutes. I am assuming you have an electronic ergometer that will allow you to just set the watts and not worry about rpm.


Last edited by RC5AL Rider; 06-02-10 at 09:32 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 06-04-10, 12:24 PM
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is your power higher or lower when you do the test outside?
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Old 06-06-10, 05:14 PM
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Now that I've done my first real tests (outdoors), I think doing the test outdoors was a mistake. Here's why:

1. By looking at my previous power files, I was able to estimate my ftp within one (1) watt of what the test revealed. (In other words, all I gained from my test was a sense of certainty about my estimate, plus some fitness.)

2. Outdoor tests aren't repeatable. For that reason, the amount of valuable information you can gain is very limited. Trends mean little, if anything, from one outdoor test to another -- especially as temperatures, winds, clothing, etc. changes. Indoor, on a trainer, I could control time, temperature, wind direction . . . just about everything. Trends revealed on an indoor trainer mean something. The greatest value in trends shown by outdoor tests would seem to be to reveal how temperature and wind impact my power output. I don't need a test to tell me that.

If I want to know trends with any precision, I will do my ftp tests indoors from now on. I'm pretty certain I can estimate my ftp from power files good enough to avoid doing any more outdoor tests.
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Old 06-06-10, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
2. Outdoor tests aren't repeatable. For that reason, the amount of valuable information you can gain is very limited. Trends mean little, if anything, from one outdoor test to another -- especially as temperatures, winds, clothing, etc. changes. Indoor, on a trainer, I could control time, temperature, wind direction . . . just about everything. Trends revealed on an indoor trainer mean something. The greatest value in trends shown by outdoor tests would seem to be to reveal how temperature and wind impact my power output. I don't need a test to tell me that.
The reason to train with a power meter is that it takes most of this out of the equation. All those variable, other than temperature will affect speed, but they shouldn't affect power significantly. If all the variables were consistent, we could just use speed and wouldn't need a power meter. So forget about trends in your speed or time, and look for trends in your power.

I guess I'm fortunate in that I have a loop slightly over a mile with no traffic and essentially flat, so it makes a good place to test.

Assuming you don't have stop for traffic, orr traffic control devices, I do not see abig problem with testing outside.
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Old 06-06-10, 05:43 PM
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I test indoors because I do my power training indoors.
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Old 06-06-10, 07:38 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
The reason to train with a power meter is that it takes most of this out of the equation. All those variable, other than temperature will affect speed, but they shouldn't affect power significantly. If all the variables were consistent, we could just use speed and wouldn't need a power meter. So forget about trends in your speed or time, and look for trends in your power.

I guess I'm fortunate in that I have a loop slightly over a mile with no traffic and essentially flat, so it makes a good place to test.

Assuming you don't have stop for traffic, orr traffic control devices, I do not see abig problem with testing outside.
this is good advice. later.
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Old 06-06-10, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
The reason to train with a power meter is that it takes most of this out of the equation. All those variable, other than temperature will affect speed, but they shouldn't affect power significantly. If all the variables were consistent, we could just use speed and wouldn't need a power meter. So forget about trends in your speed or time, and look for trends in your power.

I guess I'm fortunate in that I have a loop slightly over a mile with no traffic and essentially flat, so it makes a good place to test.

Assuming you don't have stop for traffic, orr traffic control devices, I do not see abig problem with testing outside.
Merlin, I mean no offense, but you need to study your power readouts more closely. All of the named variables have an impact on power -- and you'd obviously be surprised how much they can impact your power levels on a given ride. There is a big difference between generating power against a 20 mph wind and generating power with a 20 mph wind. It's not just about speed. Temperature and clothing impact your body and, hence, your power level, too. Check it out.
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Old 06-06-10, 08:02 PM
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If you have a mobile VO2 max testing rig that is awesome. I'm sure you don't so best bet is to do your stuff out doors.

Find a road that you can get 20 minutes in uninterrupted. use that, make sure everything is the same, food you eat the morning of, warmup protocol, etc
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Old 06-06-10, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Merlin, I mean no offense, but you need to study your power readouts more closely. All of the named variables have an impact on power -- and you'd obviously be surprised how much they can impact your power levels on a given ride. There is a big difference between generating power against a 20 mph wind and generating power with a 20 mph wind. It's not just about speed. Temperature and clothing impact your body and, hence, your power level, too. Check it out.
you swung and missed. the point that is. power is power. you can test outside no matter the conditions. wind nor rain nor heat nor hill nor mountain, nor whatever.

400 watts is 400 watts. it doesnt matter if you do it into a 20 mph head wind or with the same mph tail wind.

the first time i tested my FTP outside i did it into a head wind. i picked a pretty open and straight stretch section of road and hammered it into a 22 mph head wind. before i knew it the 20 minutes were over and i had a new 20 minute high. avg speed was super low though.

20 minutes inside never goes by fast. later.
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Old 06-06-10, 11:10 PM
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Originally Posted by FlashBazbo View Post
Merlin, I mean no offense, but you need to study your power readouts more closely. All of the named variables have an impact on power -- and you'd obviously be surprised how much they can impact your power levels on a given ride. There is a big difference between generating power against a 20 mph wind and generating power with a 20 mph wind. It's not just about speed. Temperature and clothing impact your body and, hence, your power level, too. Check it out.

Nope Merlin is right.
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