How to Perform an Indoor Field Test

Performing a 20-minute field test indoors can be a highly effective and repeatable method for establishing your wattage training zones and measuring your improvement. Execution of the test indoors requires details that we'd like to share in this training tip. Because the harder you 'go' the better the test.

Goals: to determine your Power-Based Wattage Training Zones

1. The purpose of this test is to achieve the highest average power for 20 minutes.

TURN OFF ERG MODE so you can go as hard as you can 🙏

By testing and going as hard you will be able to train and achieve precise physiological adaptations from you various sweet spot, tempo, VO2, threshold and anaerobic intervals this indoor cycling season.

2. The easiest way to perform your field test well is to not go too hard in the first 5 minutes. This is called proper pacing. Using your powermeter makes properly pacing your field test a cinch. Most athletes will test in the 200-300 watt range. So starting your test at 400 watts is too hard! We also like for athletes to go by feel, using their wattages as guidelines. For example, “Try going as hard as you feel you can sustain for 20 minutes” without going above 300 watts (for example). Here is the power data from an athlete that went out too hard (top image) and then one that paced their test evenly (lower image).  

Properly Paced Field Test:

After proper pacing nutrition, hydration, air flow and M O T I V A T I O N are 4 essentials to performing an indoor field test properly.

  • Nutrition & Hydration: Eat a healthy carbohydrate meal 3-4 hours before the test. It is important to have your glycogen stores topped off before attempting this workout! Hydrate well beforehand but once the test begins don't worry about needing to drink although you can sip on mix.
  • Air Flow: Use a fan directly on you and ideally test in a room that is 60-68 degrees.
  • M O T I V A T I O N: Be motivated for your test! A 20-minute full gas effort is a mentally challenging task. In order to generate the highest wattage you can achieve you will have to bear down and suffer.

After your test, use your average power to calculate your wattage zones. Here's how in TrainingPeaks. Lastly, train hard, train consistent over the winter and test one more time before your indoor cycling season ends. "Indoor" power tends to be lower than "outdoor" power so when test a second time make sure it is with the same powermeter under the same conditions (indoors). Take what you learn from your first indoor field test and apply it to your second test. If you've been consistent and raised your CTL, most likely you'll be able to measure your improvement in watts. Going from 225 to 250 watts in 12 weeks is a legit 10% improvement. Congrats in advance!

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About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

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