How to measure changes in your cycling fitness

Monitoring your progress

After every day of training, you’re probably thinking “was this performance better than my previous one?” or maybe “I definitely did better than my last training, but by how much?” or perhaps something in the middle. Perhaps you’ve just finished your local trail and you’re wondering whether your time this time was better than last time or maybe not as good.

Without a doubt, the more you train, you will start to be thinking “i’ve been training a lot recently, surely it’s making a difference”. It’s always a great idea to jot down what you’ve accomplished from your most recent ride, and it’s great to compare your most recent accomplishment to your previous one to see whether you have improved since your last training day.

However, there are so many different things that are measurable when cycling, there is expensive equipment that can do it all for you but in this blog, we will be discussing ways to monitor your fitness without any expensive equipment. A big example of monitoring your progress without any equipment whatsoever is competing in a rate, because mentality you’re comparing yourself to others, but who knows is their form is any relevance to yours?

The simple answer to find out how hard you’ve trained is just take on a trial, time yourself and repeat to see if your times get progressively quicker or slower, but this isn’t exactly monitoring your fitness is it?

Before testing yourself

Before you test yourself and monitor your fitness, make sure you are not suffering with a virus or an infection, most typically something as common as a flu, because these infections will most definitely be a damper your actual performance capabilities. Always make sure you have fully recovered from an infection/virus to get the most accurate results

How to test yourself

Hills are a great way to maintain and record fitness because they push you to your absolute limits in a short period of time depending on the size of the hill, so for the entire time you are climbing this hill, you are pushing yourself and you should realistically notice varied differences every time you climb the same hill. Buy anyway, here are some good guidelines on finding what type of hill to climb.

The hill needs to be long
The hill should be long enough for the ability to make a noticeable difference in your fitness, if the hill is too short, you will never see

The hill should be steep, not comfortably steep, but steep

Make sure that the hill is a challenge and not something you can easily climb up without even breaking a sweat, it helps if the gradient is consistent too, this helps because you can climb up the hill at a consistent and comfortable pace instead of tailoring yourself such as posture and how hard you push if the hill is different shapes and gradients

Look for a hill that is sheltered

This isn’t a big issue, this mostly comes down to where you live and what the weather is like, but if you can, look for a hill which is sheltered, because this way you will never have to worry about climate conditions

Use the same bike each time

A lot of people say “don’t blame the bike, blame the rider” in some instances, yes, this is true, but bikes do make a small difference, this isn’t an opinion either, this is just pure facts. Make sure you use the same bike if you’re measuring yourself, because if the previous bike you used was lighter than the one you are using next time around, it’s most likely going to mean you went a bit faster than this time. To get the most accurate results, use the same bike.

Do the test every few days, allow for recovery

Do not feel the need to test yourself every day, allow for recovery days and allow for the muscles to ease up. Also make sure that you keep a diary of it all to look back at when you hit a milestone of time, such as weekly, monthly and yearly and take a look at all the progress you have achieved.