Some may say I”™m all work and no fun. Oh, come on! What can be more fun than final exams?

Although this time of year is loaded with holiday parties and a time to take a well-deserved break from training structure, it is also a great time to determine our conditioning before we begin the upcoming year.

We want to be more than just a weekly class to our riders, but rather part of their overall training and fitness solution. In order to do that, we must be able to give them guidance and suggestions as they set goals for next year. Any good coach or trainer knows that where a person is starting is just as important as what they are trying to achieve. Part of the reason for testing is to set a benchmark so we can track progress.  Also, putting ourselves to the test often reveals our strengths and weaknesses. So bring on the testing, the learning and the fun.

Pick a Test or Take them All

There are four tests I like to throw at my riders at the end of the year.  You can decide to subject them to just one or all 4, just not at the same time.  During the last few weeks of the year, I”™ll announce that the remaining classes are going to be very challenging (they like that), and that we are going to put their aerobic ability, leg speed, muscular strength and sustainable power to the test.

SIDE NOTE: If you were planning on taking a periodized approach to next year (read my earlier article), providing an end of year test is a way of showing your commitment to the plan.  It transforms you from a mere instructor to a coach who knows the correct way to train and prepare people for success.

Create an Event and Have some Fun

Really, you can have some fun with this.  I recommended giving your class at least a week”™s notice that an end-of-year test is coming.  Couple it with a little holiday get-together. Work hard and then have some fun celebrating after class.

Also, make sure you have the tools you need before selecting your test. Obviously you will need bikes that measure watts to conduct a sustainable power challenge. Targeting a consistent power can also be helpful during long muscular strength efforts, but choosing climbs of varying length can also work. Bikes that display cadence are useful for leg speed tests, but music set to specific tempos can also keep riders on track. And finally, heart rate monitors are best when putting one”™s cardiovascular system to the task.

This may prove to be the perfect time to get your riders using a heart rate monitor.  For example, take the time to explain the benefits of using heart rate when riding and training and how it will be a part of your class next year. Give riders a heads-up that you will be conducting a threshold test next week and that a heart rate monitor will help them track their results and allow them to start incorporating training zones.  If your club sells heart rate monitors, even better!  Get some information about the models they sell and ask to have one that you could display during class.

Repeatable Results

Once you created the class profile that will put your riders to the test, don”™t throw it away. Instead, I recommend pulling it out every 5 to 6 weeks to allow your riders to retake the challenge.  It will give them something to train for while providing a way to demonstrate improvement in their fitness.

I need to jump in here and say Thank You Tom! for committing to provide your valuable incites and knowledge through all of 2012! - John 

Originally posted 2011-12-08 16:47:27.

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