Testing will give you an accurate picture of your current fitness.

Testing is a fundamental part of your training plan, with accurate testing you can define your exercise training zones ensuring the effectiveness of your training effort.

If you want to train effectively and safely to achieve your goals from the start whatever you do, test before you start training. 
Knowledge and understanding of your exercise zones will providing the perfect safe starting point for your training and help you pace your efforts more accurately.


You are Unique

Each of us is unique with our own optimal exercise zones.

Your exercise zones cannot be accurately calculated without testing.

Non-test calculated exercise zones are based on age, weight, and averages, but no one is an average. Your maximum heart rate and therefore exercise zones are based on your individual physiology. Figures calculated without testing can be wildly inaccurate and if so would have a major negative impact on your training not to mention your ability to accurately pace yourself in an event.

Your fitness is always changing and so regular testing is vital, not just to measure improvements in performance but more importantly to reassess your exercise zones and therefore allow you to continue to “train smart” by allowing you to accurately target your work intervals therefore safely maximizing your potential gains. This regular testing is an essential element and a fundamental pillar of any effective training plan. With accurate testing, your training will not only be more productive but also safer.

By accurately testing to discover when you reach anaerobic threshold we can calculate exactly where each different exercise zone begins and ends. Threshold moves as you gain or lose fitness and form, not testing or inaccurate testing will result in you not achieving your potential, if your anaerobic threshold is assessed too high it could result in failure to complete training sessions, overreaching leading to overtraining, fatigue and perhaps an injury. If too low or high it will result in ineffective training which will not produce the desired results and adaptations within your body.

Self-testing is open to more variation but with practice and increased understand it can be extremely accurate. However, without the necessary knowledge or equipment, it is easy to draw the wrong conclusions about your strengths and weaknesses which can lead to bad future training decisions. To avoid any question of accuracy you can also test with me Bpm Coaching Ltd or at another independent facility with testing equipment designed to access your exercise zones accurately.


Method of Testing 


Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP)

MAP is a performance marker and can be determined by performing a suitable ramp test to exhaustion. Using a state of the art ergometer you ride in such a manner where resistance (power) is continually increased until you can no longer continue. At the end the last 15-17% of the test is tough and like all fitness tests should only be attempted by healthy subjects, however, it's all over pretty quickly and is no more challenging than a hard hill climb (less than 15-20 minutes).
The MAP testing protocol we use is the same as used by British Cycling - and involves riding on a stationary ergometer, beginning with a target power at the lower end of endurance training and then increasing the resistance by 15, 20 or 25 watts per minute until you can no longer continue to sustain the target power.

From the result of your test, you can accurately calculate your exercise zones for both heart rate and power.

Testing every month or period is the ideal scenario for the dedicated athlete, however, testing every 2/3 months to adjust your exercise or training zones ensuring you stay on track is extremely beneficial. One-off testing every year at the start of a training plan ensures that you commence your training at the correct intensity, is also extremely beneficial and highly recommended.


Self Test

When self-testing try to make the same test at the same point in the training period or month, under as near as possible the same conditions, using the same equipment. Power meters, for example, work to a tolerance of accuracy so if you use two different meters that are perhaps 5% adrift of each other you could be performing sessions in completely the wrong training zone. This will result in not achieving potential, could result in failure to complete sessions and could result in injury. If you use the same meter its accuracy is in many ways immaterial.
Measure your HR and if possible cadence and power and always ensure you are rested before you test. The more you test the better at testing you become and as a result, your sessions will be more productive. There are many protocols to test performance. Some are simple such as perhaps just measuring the distance covered over a fixed time or the time that is taken to cover a fixed distance. However, testing AT or FTP is far more useful as the result can then be used to target further training.


MAP Testing with an ergometer

Below I have listed my preferred test protocol (MAP) with charts to calculate your training exercise zones.
It is important to be rested before your test.
Do not test if you have been ill immediately before or are unwell at the time of the test.
Only test if you are physically fit.
Hydrate well before your test and feed 3 hours before your test.

Do not Test without obtaining professional medical advice if: -
1. A doctor has ever said you have a heart condition and that you should only do physical activity recommended by a doctor.
2. you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity.
3. In the past month, you have had chest pain when you are not doing physical activity.
4. You lose your balance because of dizziness or you have lost consciousness because of physical activity.
5. Your doctor currently prescribing drugs (for example, water pills) for your blood pressure or a heart condition.
6. You have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse strenuous physical activity.
7. You are taking medications that affect your heart rate (If you are uncertain, please consult your doctor).

MAP Test (Ramp Test) on a static trainer with bike computer to record cadence and heart rate.
1. Rotations & then warm up for 8 minutes 100 watts.
2. For the next minute raise your work rate to 120 watts for the men and 115 watts for the women.
3. Dependent on sex, continue to raise target watts by 20 or 15 after every minute until you cannot maintain the target power.
4. At that point stop, recording your maximum heart rate and the average wattage achieved in the last completed 1-minute ramp.
5. Rest for two minutes and then record your heart rate after those two minutes.
6. Cool down for 10 minutes with some easy spinning in exercise Zone 1
7. Finish the test with your stretches.

Exercise zones Based on MAP (Maximal Aerobic Power)
To calculate your exercise zone first take your max MAP result x .75 = AT/FTP
Then use the following percentages of that figure to calculate your exercise zones.
Exercise Zone 1 <55% (AT/FTP) Recovery rides 1 hour
Exercise Zone 2 56-75% Endurance pace 1-6
Exercise Zone 3 76-90% Tempo endurance
Exercise Zone 4 91-105% Sub time trial pace/long intervals
Exercise Zone 5 106-120% Short time trial pace/climbs/intervals
Exercise Zone 6 >121% Maximal aerobic/short climbs/intervals
Exercise Zone 7 N/A High intensity 15-30 seconds

Based on 300 AT/FTP
Exercise Zone 1 <165 Watts
Exercise Zone 2 166-225
Exercise Zone 3 226-270
Exercise Zone 4 271-315
Exercise Zone 5 316-360
Exercise Zone 6 >361
Exercise Zone 7 N/A

For Heart rate-based exercise zones use your computer or record your heart rate at AT/FTP and then use the following percentages:
Exercise Zone 1 <68%
Exercise Zone 2 69-83%
Exercise Zone 3 84-94%
Exercise Zone 4 95-105%
Exercise Zone 5 >106%
Exercise zone 6 N/A
Exercise zone 7 N/A


Threshold Test on the road or on a Static trainer

Your goal in this test is to average the highest watts possible for a 20 minute period of time. When you get to the main effort, make sure to pace yourself so that you don’t tire too quickly. It must also be said that test takes practice and the more you perform them the better you become at producing an accurate result.

1. Start out with a 20-minute warm-up, which means building up to and then just riding along at a moderate pace, at about 65% of your max heart rate (HR) zone 2, which is what we call your endurance pace. (Be sure to do the same warm-up at the same intensity each time you do the test.)

2. Next do three 1 minute fast-pedalling efforts at 100 rpm, with one minute of easy recovery pedalling between each fast pedalling effort. After these three sets of fast pedalling, ride easy for five minutes at endurance pace (65% of max HR) zone 2

Now the real work begins.

3. Make a 30-minute time trial effort. If outdoor try to do this on a road where you can maintain your effort, a steady climb or flat road and allows you to put out a strong pace throughout the test. Use the first 10 minutes to steadily build the effort so that the last 20 minutes is at your best sustainable pace. Don’t start out too hard! Get up to speed and then try to hold that speed as steadily you can, then going as hard as you can at the end. If you’ve never done one of these efforts before, I suggest trying it on a steady climb or into a slight headwind, which forces you to put out a maximum effort for the entire 20 minutes.

4. Finish the ride with 10-15 minutes easy pedalling.

Your goal in the main portion of the test (the 20-minute segment) is to produce the highest average watts possible over the entire time. The test doesn’t work if you start out too hard in the build-up and suddenly run out of energy because you won’t be able to produce your true maximal, steady-state power. It’s always better to start out a little under what you believe to be your FTP, build up along the way, and then ride at your maximum level in the last three minutes.

Now that you’ve done the test and downloaded your data, find your average power and HR from the entire 20-minute effort. Take this number and subtract 5% percent from it. The result is your functional threshold wattage value or FTP (Functional Threshold Power) and FTHR (Functional Threshold Heart Rate). For example, if you averaged 260 watts during the 20-minute time trial, 5% of 260 (260 x 0.05) is 13, and 260 minus 13 is 247. Your FTP is 247 watts. Do the same for your HR. Check your FTHR against your FTP.

The reason for subtracting 5% from your average watts during the 20-minute test is that your FTP is the highest average power you can theoretically maintain for sixty minutes. Most athletes have a hard time putting out maximal effort for sixty minutes, however, and those who can learn very quickly that a sixty-minute time trial is not much fun and extremely fatiguing. Twenty minutes is a more realistic time frame. A shorter time period, however, incorporates more of the athlete’s anaerobic capacity, which skews the wattage data by about 5%. By subtracting that 5%, you end up with a wattage number that should be very close to your true FTP over a sixty-minute effort.

Once you have calculated your FTP or FTHR score, you can calculate your exercise zones as a percentage of FTP or FTHR:


Maximum Heart Rate Test

This is the most basic of tests that will allow you to calculate your heart rate based exercise zones an exercise zone table once you have tested and discovered your maximum exercise heart rate.
Firstly warm up thoroughly for at least 15 minutes. On a long, steady hill or turbo at a moderate resistance start off fairly briskly and increase your effort every minute. Do this seated for at least five minutes until you can’t go any faster. At this point get out of the saddle and sprint as hard as you can for 15 seconds. Stop and get off the bike and immediately check your HR reading. This is your max HR.

Your max HR figure is sport specific so, for example, your maximum on a bike will invariably be much lower than it is when you're running. There are a couple of theories on why. One of those theories is that the bike is taking some of your weight. The other is that cyclists are better at cycling than running and runners are better at running than cycling.


Bespoke Training Plans


Exercise zone calculator showing the upper limit in each exercise zone.

Active Recovery
Very Light
Light - Moderate
Very Hard
V02 Max
Anaerobic Capacity
Maximal Plus




At BPM Coaching for years we provided fitness testing to give clients a complete picture of there current fitness.
We tested to accurately assess our clients exercise zones on state of equipment using two different methods that utilised the best in clinical testing equipment via graded exercise tests where your body is subjected to gradually increasing exercise levels. Using our knowledge on this page and using a modern static trainer and a power recoding online platform its so easy now to test accurately at home.
A test is no more challenging than a short steep climb.