The Conconi Test for Cycling: Calculating Your Anaerobic Threshold

Updated on December 23, 2016
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist as well as being a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

What is the Conconi Test?

The Conconi Test is a relatively simple way for cyclists to test their anaerobic threshold and was developed by the Italian exercise physiologist Francesco Conconi.

The Conconi test is unique in that it does not require taking take blood samples to calculate anaerobic threshold. This means that there is no need for a medical laboratory for adequate testing and any cyclist can test their anaerobic threshold level with the use of items that most cyclists have access to.

  • A Turbo trainer
  • Cycle computer which picks up values from the rear wheel of the bicycle and pedalling cadence.
  • Heart rate monitor watch with strap
  • An assistant/ willing partner to record test values.

Anaerobic Threshold Testing at Home on a Turbo Trainer

You can perform an anaerobic threshold test at home on your turbo trainer
You can perform an anaerobic threshold test at home on your turbo trainer | Source

Benefits for Cyclists of Knowing Their Anaerobic/Lactate Threshold Heart Rate

For a cyclist, knowing your anaerobic threshold can help you choose training to improve your lactate threshold. Lactate threshold can be raised through specific training.

Your lactate threshold heart rate denotes the point at which lactate builds up within the bloodstream at a faster rate than it can be removed. It is widely regarded that a build up of excess lactate within the bloodstream leads to fatigue and exhaustion within cyclists.

By raising lactate threshold it is believed that an athlete can work at higher workloads prior to a build up of lactate and therefore improve their cycling performance.

Be Aware of Your Health Before Participation in Any Performance Test

Please be aware that this test is very strenuous and must only be performed if you are currently in good health. Stop the test at any point if you feel unwell outside of normal exercise conditions. This test will take you exhaustion and you should subsequently allow sufficient time to recover post-exercise before you perform any more workouts.

The Conconi Test for Cyclists

Be aware this test only measures anaerobic threshold for cycling. If you want to know your anaerobic threshold for running you would have to test based on the exercise being running as cycling uses your muscles in completely different ways and puts alternative stress on your cardiovascular system. Triathletes should consider performing the test on separate occasions— one day for running and one day for cycling after adequate rest.

How Your Results Might Look

Speed km/h
Heart rate

Performing the Conconi Test at Home

  1. Warm up for 10- 20 minutes- the longer the better as long as the warm up does not cause you fatigue.
  2. Start by pedalling easily at race cadence (time trial 80-100 rpm and road race 90-110 rpm usually). Your assistance/ partner should make a note of your cadence and speed.
  3. Every minute raise the speed by a chosen speed of 1 mph or 1 kilometre per hour.
  4. Your assistant/ partner must note down your heart rate prior to raising your speed
  5. Keep increasing your speed until you are no longer able to continue the test
  6. Once you can no longer maintain the speed cool down for a period of 10 minutes or more to reduce your heart rate to a normal level.

Graph of the Results Including Deflection Point

Notice the deflection after the 11 minute mark- this denotes that the anaerobic threshold has been reached
Notice the deflection after the 11 minute mark- this denotes that the anaerobic threshold has been reached

How Often Should You Perform a Test of Your Anaerobic Threshold?

Realistically you should consider performing this test every 4-8 weeks. You could integrate it into your easy weeks as part of your training mesocycles. Always ensure you are well rested before performing a Conconi Test of your anaerobic threshold for cycling.

Performing tests monthly or bi-monthly allows the cyclist to compare results on a regular basis and see how their anaerobic threshold rate is adjusting to their training profiles.


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