Is a FTP test the best way to test and track your performance gains? No.
Testing on a course is more effective way to track progress.
In CINCH we call this testing method “The Rocky.”
In the Rocky you are tracking your time WITH your power, speed, cadence, and other factors you get a very accurate picture as to where your cycling development is headed.
So let’s look at what you should be looking at during your Rocky tests in addition to your power.
Pacing Strategy: Each course will have an optimal way to deliver the power to get the fastest time as possible. The only way to truly learn the skill of how to read a course and devise a pacing plan is to test different strategies. By having courses you test on, you will be able to see your strategy savvy increase while your fitness does.
Shifting timing and technique: Just like where you place the power down greatly influences your speed over a specific course, so does where you shift. Practicing and measuring this skill makes the difference, so having a testing course will allow you to see your shifting timing and technique improve resulting in your overall time going down.
Cadence Changing: Using one cadence is slow. Transitioning between high, mid range, and low cadence during your efforts will give you the most speed as possible. Testing on different courses will allow you to apply and test your ability changing the cadence to maximize speed and efficiency.
Mindset Control: A big part of performance is your ability to get in, and stay in, the needed high performance mindset on command. Testing like this is a great way to practice this skill.
Nutrition Plan: Testing your nutrition with your race effort is everything. Test the foods that meet your effort’s macronutrient needs and test the timing of when you eat them to make sure your stomach will work optimally when it counts.
Equipment: What equipment you use matters. This can be anything from different tires and wheels to clothing and helmets. Everyone has a different body shape riding style. Simply reading the reviews is not enough to make the best selection. Testing for each individual is the best strategy if you are able to do it.