Essentially it  is using objective metrics to understand your strengths and weaknesses as a rider.  A way of discovering what your characteristics are as an athlete and what you might want to focus on.

A common methodology is to track what are called your, ‘peak powers’, also known as ‘critical powers’. These are the maximum wattage you are able to put out over specific durations.  How they measure up proportionally to one another, can indicate where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Each of these metrics is reflective of the way your body produces energy and are used to illustrate how well developed these different energy systems are:


Your peak powers reflect metabolic changes in your body as the intensity of exercise changes.  Not only is this important to know when events require efforts of a similar duration but how these peak powers stack up in proportion to one another will tell you a bit about your characteristics as a rider – your ‘phenotype’.

So for instance, if your FTP and V02max power have a much higher categorisation than your anaerobic powers, it would suggest you are stronger when it comes to longer steady-state efforts requiring a big aerobic component (i.e. time trial/triathlon).

Of course there are a number of reasons why some of your peak powers might sit higher than others.  A lack of conditioning for a particular energy system being an obvious one.  The key is to first discover what your current peak powers are, track them over time and depending on your focus, adapt your training so they evolve to align with your objectives.


You’ll note the categorisations used in the profiling questionnaire below, which are from, ‘Training and racing with a power meter’ (Third edition) H Allen, A Coggan and S McGregor 2019.  These categorisations will rank your performances among the entire universe of cycling.  Our goal however, is to create a database that is more directly applicable and hopefully, a competitive component.

By contributing your data, we will be able to produce a ranking system where riders can compare how they fair against their friends and rivals.  Because not everyone likes racing, we think this will create a fantastic new source of training motivation.

Below we have provided sessions to help you discover your peak powers and in the form of our profiling questionnaire, the tools to understand your numbers.  In return, we would be really grateful if you could contribute to our power ranking project.


If you are an experienced athlete, you may already have good data to use.  However, for those in need of a hand, below are 4 FREE workout files for you to upload to your preferred platform and get collecting peak power data.

A few suggestions to help you in collecting data:

  1. Some of the sessions are pretty challenging, so we strongly recommend spacing them out and performing only one per week.
  2. Perform these workouts on an indoor trainer as performing them on the road could be very dangerous.
  3. Make use of user friendly data analysis software such as Training Peaks or Golden Cheetah to extract the key information more easily.

5-second Power

You have a few bites at the cherry but this session is not intended to be super intense. It’s designed to help see what your highest possible power output is over two important peak power durations, 5-seconds and 20-seconds.

If you are using a smart bike/smart trainer, ensure you have ERG mode turned off for the sprint efforts.

1-minute Power

This is not a super intense workout but by obtaining 1-minute power data with the repeat efforts, you should get a sense of your anaerobic repeatability. A key skill for crit and E-racers.

If you are using a smart bike/smart trainer, ensure you have ERG mode turned off for the 1-min efforts.

5-minute Power

These intervals should demonstrate how well developed your V02max is and that even within specific training zones, your body still has ‘gears’ to use.

In short, the longer the interval, the more of an aerobic component there will be. We are looking to see which end of the spectrum your body prefers.

If you are using a smart bike/smart trainer, ensure you have ERG mode turned off for the V02max efforts and definitely for the 5-minute effort.


The classic FTP test. Never fun but always necessary for gauging such a key metric.

Once you have done the assessment, multiply your average power for the 20-min effort by 0.95. This will give you your FTP, which is an estimate of the max power you should be able to sustain for a full hour.

If you are using a smart bike/smart trainer, ensure you have ERG mode turned off for the 20-min assessment.



To fill in the questionnaire and be able to understand your data, you will need to divide your peak power wattage for each timeframe by your current weight to resolve them in watts per kilo (w/kg).

As you work your way through the questionnaire, we provide a lot more information about the relevant energy system and advice you how you might want to adapt your training in response to a particular categorisation.

Because there is so much information and advice provided as part of this questionnaire, we would recommend giving yourself at least 30-minutes to work through it.  It’s well worth it though and should hopefully, give you a really great understanding of the fundamentals of cycling training that you would struggle to find elsewhere for free.


Categorising your peak powers in the way we have, is just the start of how you might be able to learn about your characteristics as a rider.  For instance, peak powers do not tell us about your climbing abilities, speed endurance, pacing skills or your time trialling capabilities.  To achieve this level of understanding, you would need to take the profiling a step further.

At RIAK we have some awesome relationships and resources that can help take this next step.  For example, one of our dedicated coaching relationships in the form of our Tri Squad Membership or Cycling Coaching relationship would not only help you understand your characteristics an athlete more fully, but would also provide you with all the tools to marshal your training to ensure your characteristics align with your objectives or vice versa.

We also have specific on-demand training plans that go beyond just assessing your peak powers.  Our on-demand Discovery Series bike plan and Triathlete Profiling plan are specifically designed to assess your capabilities in a full spectrum approach.  For instance, analysing your climbing abilities, pacing skills, speed endurance and race specific skills.

If you would like to know more about either/both of these resources, hit the links below or you can book a FREE 15-minute coach consultation on the Coaching Page where we can answer any questions and hopefully decide the most appropriate resource for you.




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