At this time of year most competitive cyclists are getting stuck into their training for the coming season.
In order to be able to train to your best potential it is important to know where you are – and even more importantly – your training zones.
Whilst there are formulas that can be used to make a fair guess at your heart rate zones the best way is to undertake a fitness test.
I visited Koolstof and put myself up for a twenty minute threshold test which would allow us to figure out my stats.
Whilst I was doing the test JJ also ran a spin scan – which meant we could look at the efficiency of my pedalling. This was the most exciting part of the session to me and I had fun trying to make different shapes by changing my pedalling style.
A spin scan allows you to analyse the efficiency of your pedaling based on torque, the balance of power between left and right, and the balance of power between pushing and pulling on the pedal stroke.
The three main readings you can take from this are;
- Your overall spin scan number for both legs and your overall spin scan for each leg
- This is the average torque you produce throughout the pedal stroke
- If your numbers are between 60-70 you push more than you pull
- Between 70-80 you push slightly more than you pull
- Between 80-90 pat yourself on the back – you’re a pro
- Your average torque angle for each leg
- This refers to the location in the pedal stroke where force is applied
- Ideally your power would peak somewhere around 90-100 degrees from top dead centre
- Otherwise you miss the opportunity to apply maximum force when it counts the most
- The power split between your left and right legs
- This reading indicates any power imbalances and which leg is dominant
- This may be due to imbalances in strength or leg lengths, or an improper bike fit.
This information proves useful to confirm that a bike is properly fitted (or not), to identify imbalances in strength between legs, or to determine areas of weakness within the pedal stroke. Using this feedback you can work to maximize efficiency and force.
Halfway through my fitness test my spin scan looked like this ↑ .
From looking at the peanut shape and the overall spin scan numbers you can see that I push more than I pull. I can work on this by practicing my pedalling technique and focusing on utilizing the entire pedal stroke.
The graph and table also show that I have a very good symmetry in my technique and both legs are very balanced. This indicates that I have a very good bike fit (thanks to CycleFit) which means I can utilize all of my muscles and body properly.
In summary of the spin scan: I have an excuse to buy a fixie! <- due to the fixed gear you are forced to practice good pedalling technique.
Back to the fitness test.
After the threshold test (where I quite simply rode a 20 minute time trial on the compu trainer) JJ got lots of numbers and watts and other unintelligable facts from the software. When I understand all the figures and what they mean I will write a bit more….all I can tell you is I thought I was going to be sick and my face went very red.
(I’ll write some more when I understand it a bit better)
In reality JJ will tell me what those numbers where and from there he will be able to tell me what zones I should be training in. Exciting!
With reference to this article by Maria Simone regarding spin scans