Power testing: in two sessions or all at once?

Hi Lee,

First of all, I just wanted to say thanks for the Pump Up the Base programme. It is the first bike related training programme I have done (although i have extensive experience with track and field programmes, predominantly sprinting) and was blown away by the progress I made over the 12 weeks; struggling to manage the 6x3min sets at 250w in the beginning and wondering how i was going to do 10 min let along 15-20 to being able to do the 3x20min reps at a significantly higher power output marginally lower heart rate, but even better is the look on my mates faces as they realise I’ve been waiting at the top of a climb for them for a couple of minutes and that I’m already to continue on down the trail.

Now I am about to start Prepare to Pin It, but I don’t know quite how to approach the testing. The testing in the e-book appears to be broken up over 2 days (sub-max and speed endurance/ max power), however, the blog posts on your own tests appear to have it all on one day (the longer TT also appears be a FTP test rather than the sub-max in the e-book) is this correct and which one would you recommend over the other and why?


Thanks for the great question, and for being a customer.

I’m not just the president of Lee Likes Bikes: I’m also a client. Over the past several years I’ve used both PUTB and P2PI religiously. Thanks to that structure I’ve gotten a lot stronger (and a bit smarter too).

Two sessions

In P2PI expert source Lester Pardoe and I describe a couple tests: one for aerobic fitness and one for high-end power.

In the aerobic test you warm up then see how much power you can maintain for 20 minutes.

In the high-end power test, you warm up then do 3-minute, 1-minute and 30-second tests, followed by max sprints.

From a practical, human perspective, it seems easier for many riders to separate the tests.

Mentally easier to do the endurance work. Easier to spend everything.

Sprinting when you’re fresh. Perhaps easier to achieve higher ego numbers.

Less time on the trainer!

All at once

Lately, I’ve been doing all of the tests at once:

This is how Lester and the other physiologists at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine do it.

It’s a fuller representation of your fitness. How well can you sprint after doing all that other work?

Maybe it’s just me, but I actually think I sprint better when I’m thoroughly warm and maybe even beaten down. I’ve been told there’s less “inhibitory response” among the muscles.

Done once, and it’s over!

The last time I did the full test (End of season power testing Sept. 2014), I was hurting: 20 minutes felt sluggish. 3- and 1-minute were agonizing. After the 30-second I wanted to puke. I was also bummed because my numbers were lower than my previous best. After a few minutes of recovery, I blasted the sprints and — WHOA! — hit a new PR of almost 1,800 watts. Crazy.

Even crazier to think about the warmup at my next BMX race!

Have fun out there,


Pump Up the Base off-season training program >>>
Prepare to Pin It in-season training program >>>

Know more. Have more fun!

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3 replies
  1. Sven says:

    Reminds me it’s time to get my Stages carried over to my Stumpy Evo from its predecessor to get real numbers from my rides. Didn’t you post something about proper BB adapters for installing a Stages on a GXP crankset into a PF30 bottom bracket some time ago? Can’t find it any more. But it should be something like this? http://www.artscyclery.com/Sram_Truvativ_PF30_-_BSA_Bottom_Bracket_Adapter/descpage-SRPF30BSAES.html

    Apart from your observation of still being able to do high power sprints after already having done some heavy work on the bike is something that also amazes me from time to time. It’s mainly a matter of will, ignoring the pain and heaviness in the legs when tackling that short climb on the trail or accelerating out of a corner.
    Yet this is something best trained indoors at first IMO, as it can bring you close to seeing twinkling stars when done with full effort which of course is very bad when on the trail 😉
    That’s another aspect of consequently doing your PUTB und P2PI programms: learning to estimate how far you can go, how much power you can lay down on the cranks for a certain amount of time without getting too much beyond that point where it’s hard to even stay on the bike – bringing even more confidence to all-out Riding (capital R) 😉
    thanks Lee!

  2. leelikesbikes says:


    Heck yes: Bring your Stages to your Stumpy EVO! I believe that’s the right part, but don’t trust me. Call Art’s before your order.

    I hear you about the twinkling stars! That’s why I do my most intense workouts on the trainer or rower — because it’s not safe to ride a bike when I can’t even see straight!

    And another yes: Those programs not only make you stronger, they help you understand how hard you can go, for how long, and how long it takes to recover. You get a bigger engine and a really smart power management system — all the better for Riding!


  3. leelikesbikes says:

    Thanks for your (incredibly fast) answers Lee, they are greatly appreciated.

    I’ve also noticed that performance picks up later in training sessions, particularly when amidst heavy training. I think it has to do with becoming more efficient as the antagonist muscles fatigue. I used to do a session of 3x3x200m on the track with 3min recovery between reps and 8min between sets. On the first two sets i would be relaxed but not comfortable at 23-24s but on the last i would only have to lift slightly to drop low 22s or high 21s. Although, in season when racing you’d have to overcome this and be ready to drop your best effort after only one race or, in a grand prix format, make the first one the fastest. Fortunately, mountain biking doesn’t really work like that and getting faster as the day progresses is only a good thing.

    One other thing that I’ve noticed with getting fitter on the bike is that my skill acquisition has accelerated. I’m not entirely sure why, but i suspect it’s a combination of having the power to attack flat or slightly up hill sections in the same way i previously only attacked down hills and also being fresher throughout the entire ride and being in a better position to develop skills at the end of the ride rather than just holding on for dear life. Have you found this?

    Thanks again for your reply. I’ll keep you posted on how i get on with P2P.



    — — —


    No question: The better your engine, the easier it is to execute and master great skills.

    Have fun out there,



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