How do you test your progress?

What is your preferred way to monitor progress, and what metrics are important to you?

Are you doing a standard FTP test, MAP testing, monitoring sleep, etc.?

Do you test both indoors and outdoors based on the time of year?

Give us some insight into what you measure, and why?

I’ll start off with a few metrics that I measure:

  • Whoop. I started using this late in the summer to explore the metrics provided and see if they help manage my training stress and recovery. I’ve found the HRV and recovery scores to be most helpful so far. One interesting takeaway was that while we are dealing with some up and down air quality conditions, I’ve noticed my performance has dropped, along with sleep quality and HRV, following poor air quality days.
  • Sprint power. I’ve seen that my top end can quickly decay, so try to keep up on the sprinting as regularly as possible. I know that when my 5-10 second power is high, I generally feel very prepared to race or go hard. When it’s not, I know I’ve either been doing a lot of endurance work and neglecting the sprinting, or have just been busier and training consistency has dropped.
  • normalized 60-90 minute power. When I’m feeling very aerobically fit and with good endurance, the 60-90 min NP seems to align well with climbing abilities and sustainability.

Coach Ryan

I have found Xert very useful for following my fitness as it goes up and down. I don’t do testing, just upload all the rides and the software figures out where your FTP stands.

I use HRV4training daily to follow HRV and make some adjustments to my workouts intensities based on the daily reading. I think a very important part of HRV is just knowing what it is and why it is importance. From there you pay a little more attentions to all your stressors (physical/food/drink/emotional/work/sleep etc) and over first bit your HRV score improves just because you are paying attention to your stressors and minimizing them where you can.

I track sleep on my Garmin watch. The tracking devices aren’t all that accurate for the sleep stages, but again, for me the most important thing is that you pay attention to how much sleep you are getting and try to meet your goal of 8-9 hours whatever you decide. That’s where the money is - awareness of the importance and need for sleep!

Hi James, thanks for your thoughts! Yes, so if you are uploading the rides to a platform like Xert and you see that real-time adjustment it can be a great way to track your progress. I haven’t used Xert as much, but Coach @trevor is more familiar with it. I use WKO5 often, and do a mix of testing and “feeding” of data to know where I stand.

HRV has really taken off over the past few years as technology has improved to help with tracking. You nailed it - a big part is just knowing what it is and what it means to you. I agree that it allows you to pay better attention to those other life stressors and adjust accordingly. I use Whoop pretty regularly and have been pleased with the metrics. If nothing else, it gives additional factors to consider and helps to keep awareness of how other practices may improve recovery. For example, it seems as though when meditation is included, my sleep quality shows a small, yet consistent increase. As you said, sleep is where the money is!

Coach Ryan

Thx Coach Ryan,

I have to add an additional plug for HRV. It is one of the few things I recommend for everyone athlete or not. I’ve been a physician for 30 years. We have know for that time that HRV is an indicator of overall health. Kinda the holy grail of health monitoring. It used to cost $5k and require a trip to a lab for a one time measurement. Now it is essentially free, takes 1 minute on your iPhone (or is done passively thru Whoop or Oura ring) you can do it daily.

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I am also trying to move away from the dreaded FTP tests. They are greatly influenced by how I felt the day of the test, what type of test I am doing and how hard I felt I could push myself that day. I am not a fan of the ramp-style test. They don’t seem to work for me. Same with the 20 minute test. I struggle to pace it. I’ve had the ‘best’ results with the 2 x 8 min test.

I am trying Xert this year and am a long-time WKO5 user as well. Generally, I find that the Xert derived FTP number is a little all over the map. It decays too fast and the adjustments you can make to the decay rate seem arbitrary. The WKO5 number seems to work better for me (based on how I perform in interval sessions that use the WKO5 mFTP number).

Other than that, I too track HRV using an Elite CorSense sensor and HRV4Training. I track sleep with my Garmin watch.

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@neptuak @ryan

Now that @ThermalDoc is onboard FastLabs I hope we get a lot of discussion and guidance with Xert. Perhaps it’s own Forum?

More than happy to talk Xert and start a separate forum. Will also be doing articles and live events about it as appropriate.

@neptuak with Xert’s default “Optimal Decay” model the entire point is that the system sets a fairly rapid decay (for all three components of the fitness signature) because it is expecting you to have breakthrough efforts fairly frequently (~2 weeks). BT efforts does NOT have to be any standard tests, they just need to be hard efforts. For example, in non-COVID times, my club has weekly Tuesday races that always end up in a BT for me. Xert thus removes the need for any “traditional” testing such as boring 20 min or 2x8 min efforts, which is why many athletes end up just assuming FTP values from months ago.

During winter or periods where you’re not expecting to do many BT efforts, I set my decay rate to “No Decay.” Here, our model bases your progression on your training done on each of the three components (peak, high, and low strain). So if you do a lot more low strain volume, your TP value will rise. You can still do a BT effort even with the No Decay setting.

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Thanks for the explanation! Yes, I was using the ‘no decay’ setting for a while early last year. I fully realize that Xert needs to see the data to drive its conclusions. It’s just that my training or even riding doesn’t provide the data points it needs in sufficient quantity (unless I just go with a ‘no decay’ model all year round …

I see that Xert is starting (?) to use heart rate in its modeling. I know HR data can be less reliable given how influenced it is by external factors, but I can’t help but think using power and HR is the key to determining aerobic fitness and assessing performance. Then again, what do I know! I’m just a barely-informed amateur! :wink:

I agree with Xert. I love what they are trying to do with the data but I find the values for Threshold and other averages a bit sketchy, especially know my abilities. The numbers tend to make me look better than what I am :slight_smile: I can do really well in the 5-20 minute efforts - probably because I can suffer pretty well for that time frame. I know I cannot come close to the hour number given by formula.

I tend to find a few times a year to gauge certain efforts - 1 minute, 5 minute, and 20 minute - either by themselves or together. Usually I will to them together in the spring and fall and look at each effort and the overall workout that to see how things look. A few times a between I will do 1 and 5 minutes test by themselves and probably fit in a 20 minute test about a 3-6 weeks prior the spring test.

Since most my events are of the longer type, I usually do not do the hour or power, but will do a 2-4 hours ride a few times over the course of the year - maybe one per season - where I will try to do the same power (determined by about 70% of my spring 20 minute test) and check out my heart rate and RPE over the course of the ride and compare to see my fitness improvements.

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I’m trying to nail down a test week protocol. What do folks thing about doing a ramp test the day before a 20 minute test? I’d probably use one minute steps as I’d want to minimize muscular fatigue but get a good idea of p@Vo2 and maximal heart rate. I’m also interested in how long I can hold various medio range wattages. So I’m thinking…

  • Monday - off
  • Tuesday - off
  • Wednesday - easy
  • Thursday - easy w/ cadence builds
  • Friday - long warm up + ramp test
  • Saturday - 20’ test
  • Sunday - long medio effort


I’m currently experimenting with my club mates (8 athletes in total). It will help me grow my experience as a “young” coach, and introduce some of them to structured training where they have been winging it for the last 5-10 years (2 week day sessions and one group ride on the weekend).

Given that we’re in the southern hemisphere, our summer racing ends in mid-April. They’ve all agreed to sacrifice some popular A & B events between now and end-April, and make them all C-events. I’ve given them freedom to ride how they want, but asked them to feed their PDC to ensure they have max efforts across the board for 1s, 5s, 30s, 1m, 3m, 6m, 20m, 30m (LTHR and FTP) as well as riding as hard as they can to exhaustion. LIT and rest is also prescribed, but not forced on them.

Hopefully I’ll have a baseline to start the new season, for each person. Some of them are only starting out using power-based training.

I’ve been training and racing with a PM (quoted intended) since 2016, so I have sufficient data to analyse year-on-year, as well as specific races and training blocks. The table/chart below (WKO5) is what I am trialing at the moment, before I think about getting the 8 club mates to try out before the new season starts. As another member of the 8 has some power data, I’ve asked him to try our the optimized interval targets too, and give me feedback (feel). We’ve been feeding our PDC for the last 90 days, so I’m sure the data is “good enough” to benefit from the suggested values.

My data

His- data

What bothers me is that most of the tests are specific for some physiological aspect and not a general reality, ie ramp vs 2x 8 minute, vs 20 minute vs 4DP etc, etc, etc… As well there are so many factors that go into the test outcome, rest, fueling, caffeine or not, mental state, etc. When people get hung up on test results they have often not taken into account all of the factors and to the best of my knowledge there has been no proof of repeatability of results or even the variance of results. If you do test x and get result y what is the +/- on that result? What is then a meaningful difference… and finally how much of the change is the result of just getting better at taking the test?

I like the idea behind XERT in that though they say no testing they still mean you have to push your limits to failure. The thing is the failure can be in a variety of different situations which may still give different results for their fitness measure(s). Trainer Road is saying they are doing something similar inferring fitness from typical results beyond a test. Of the “tests” I sort of like the 4DP because it makes you go through a lot of different situations not just one. I think the area of testing still has a way to go. All that I infer from any test is did it change and was that change meaningful or just inside the region of noise? I would really love to hear more thoughtful commentary on testing. (I am not referring to physiological testing of lactic acid level, oxygen exchange levels etc where we have very specific measures vs some secondary measure like power or heart rate these are a whole different beast from what I understand.)

I monitor HRV via HRV4Training

During base period (which I’m currently in)

  1. I repeat regular loops below LT1 / VT1 between 1.5 to 2.5 hours that have little traffic, and no traffic lights during the town section. I note average speed, and average HR.
  2. I do a 30 min steady state test (after a 15 min warm up) on the turbo around LT1. I note the power to heart rate ratio.
  3. I note the gears I’m using and how the legs feel during my loops. Are the legs feeling stronger, am I pushing bigger gears for same HR, are the legs strong for the whole duration or fading?
  4. I note the number of hours a week I’m managing and try to increase this up to about 10 hours by March.
  5. I’ll test DFA1 to see if HR is moving upwards

During later periods

  1. I will additionally test ftp
  2. I will test on hills between 4-13 minutes and measure the time to do the climbs at maximal effort
  3. I will do hill repeats till exhaustion or I’m more than 10% slower than my first ascent. I’ll record how many repeats I managed.
  4. I’ll do hill repeats at my LT1 till I run out of time, this may be several hours. I’ll plot my times and speeds. This is measuring fatigue resistance.

I’ll also do a sanity check on my brevets throughout the year. If I’m not getting faster when the ride time exceeds 10 hours or above, or same speed but needing to eat less, and feeling better at the end. Then I’m not making progress.


I monitor power output per hr zone while performing structured training. Last year i never performed a standardized test.
Why: the trend shows my progress and i dont need a ‘demanding’ test that interferes with regular training.

For central fatigue monitoring i use my average hr during the first 4 hours of sleep.
Why: it indicates when i need a rest day: 8 beats above minimum = rest day

This year i intent to add the 3 minute test on the trainer, just for fun of comparing to my usual pattern.


The thing that I think is really cool here is how everyone has their meaningful way to track. From @kjeldbontenbal prioritizing power and HR, @Phil with that standardized loop that brings in leg sensations along with the hard data, @scooter utilizing the 4DP, but also recognizing the areas where these types of tests miss - mental state, fuel intake, rest, etc. And finally @geraldm24 doing some feeding of the WKO+ machine.
I think @fazel1010 that your idea is pretty solid as well - you get the p@VO2 max and max HR while fresh, and still have those next few days as fatigue builds to see what your more sustainable power is like at threshold and sub-threshold intensities.

I’d love to see you go for it and report back on the forum with your feedback!