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Performance Evaluation ~ Conconi

Richard Mayne

Richard Mayne ~ Ramp Testing
Which, perversely, he "quite enjoyed".  He's a climber; says it all...

What is it?
The Conconi Ramp Test is a stressful, semi-endurance based test that is carried out to exhaustion. The test duration is obviously variable as the time taken is dependent of the aerobic capacity of the testing athlete, although they rarely last more than twelve minutes.

More Information
To better understand the physiological issues this test addresses please read our VO2max Factsheet.

Why do I need it?
This test is used to determine an athlete's maximum anaerobic power output; from which sustainable power thresholds and VO2max can be extrapolated. High VO2max and sustainable power outputs are vitally important in the quest for race victory. Without a clear indication of what they are, improving them can be a hit and miss affair.

While taking this test we also gather information to determine an athletes maximum heart rate; from which heart rate training zones can be extrapolated. For those using heart rate to measure their effort this is an essential piece of information. Yet many athletes continue to train with heart monitors without undertaking a formal test to validate their assumptions.

Without a clear indication of an athletes maximum heart rate, and their resting heart rate, training for improved performance will obviously be a hit and miss affair.

Please don't use the 220-age formula. I'm 52 years old and my max heart rate is 234. How accurate would my formula calculated estimate be? Not very is the answer, it says I should be 168 bpm! I would suggest anything you've had calculated will be as equally as accurate

The idea of the test is to ride to physiological exhaustion, but before the athlete becomes tired and finishes due to fatigue. This can be best explained by the fact that it would be possible to do a Max Heart Rate Test before a club run. But you wouldn't be able to do a Max Heart Rate test after a club run.

How to Prepare
This is an extreme test to the exhaustion of your physiological capabilities and places an enormous strain on your body. It is vitally important to make sure you:

are fully rested
are fully hydrated
have had no hard rides for at least three days
have not eaten for at least two hours previous
have been of good health for at least four weeks
have good motivation and morale
are mentally prepared for the effort required

The Test
A Conconi Ramp test is not pleasant but the result it provides give an excellent indicator to the physiological capacity and potential power output of an athlete.

ramp test

There is no lactate reading taken in this test as the very nature of it will cause lactate levels to go off the scale!  Although we can track your pedaling action and a shed load of other things...

quadrant analysis

quadrant analysis scatter graph ~ pedal speed/pedal force

Maintaining accurate power outputs and form early in the test is critical to the accuracy of the results. When the end comes, values are extrapolated and calculated to give a power output for the last sixty seconds.


Peter Langdon at test's end
4 metre square room, 1000 yard stare...

The Result
Peer reviewed formulae are used to determine the athletes maximum sustainable power output from their final interval. From this further calculations can be made to provide an accurate VO2max calculation.

The only way to get a more accurate result is through a laboratory and being hooked up to a gas analyser. Five percent more accurate but ten times the cost!

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