Norfolk Health & Fitness

This blog is describing the process of the peak power output test

What is the peak power output test?

The peak power output test is a great way to test your client’s level of anaerobic performance/anaerobic capacity.

The purpose of this test is to measure a person’s maximal anaerobic power. In simple terms, this is the maximum amount of power a person can exert in a given time. This can be a great piece of data to have for a client screening.

Original use

This test was originally known as the Wingate anaerobic test or simply the Wingate test, which was first done in 1974. In a lab setting a participant would be hooked up with a mask, so their Vo2 max could be collected. They then would peddle for a set time at their maximum rate. From there they would calculate the peak anaerobic power. This allows the participant to work out their peak mechanical power.

Yet as of today, due to the advancements in technology, this test has become a lot more simple.


Definition of Vo2 max

“the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise, used as a way of measuring a person’s individual aerobic capacity”

Oxford Languages


Todays use

This test can be done on a stationary bike or air bike. Yet the test is most notably done on the Wattbike.

The air bike is a great way to read the results of the peak power output test

The way the data can be measured also varies.

Once the test is done, you can then analyse different datasets on the cycle ergometer (machine).

Measurements include:

  • Wattage (measures relative peak power)
  • Cadence (number of pedals or pedal revolution)
  • Speed

Who would benefit from doing the peak power test?

The Peak power output test would benefit those who take part in any activity which requires explosive power. Sports that require moments when you have to go all out. Anything which requires a person to dip into their creatine phosphate stores. Thus the peak power output test would benefit those who partake in activities such as:

  • Rugby
  • Sprint training
  • Intervals
  • Cycling

So, if you can improve your score on the peak power output, there’s a chance you’re more likely to do better in any sport, which requires you to go full out.

How is the peak power test done today?

The peak power output test would be done at the beginning of someone’s training block. This allows for you or your client to have a baseline to compare your results to within the near future.

After the first result is conducted, the test can be repeated again in 4-6 weeks’ time, to see if the output is higher.

The test can be done in a 30-second interval, just like the video above instructs. The participants will warm themselves up for 10-20 seconds. When instructed they will go full out for 6 seconds. When the 6 seconds are over, they will go back to a steady interval for the remaining time.

Pros and cons

Like every test the peak power output test comes with its benefits and drawbacks.

Pros

The biggest perk of the peak power test is the convenience factor.

Unlike a lot of tests, this test does not require any special equipment or the need for you to be in a lab with an oxygen mask. You can do this test at home or in the gym.

The test is only 6 seconds, thus if you are planning to train afterward. You’re not likely to be too fatigued to continue with your session.

Finally, the test is ultra-specific. What you are looking for, is what you will get. Unlike a lot of other tests, which may come with various data noise, this test will give you what you want due to the short duration.

Cons

Though this test benefits from being very specific, it does come with some drawbacks.

One drawback being is that because it’s so specific, it doesn’t measure other variables which may be useful. For instance, though rugby or cycling requires lots of power, there are times when endurance is required. Thus if you want to do a test to also measure endurance, the peak power test would not be enough.

How to improve peak power output

To improve peak power, you need to work on your initial force. This means when you’re resistance training, you want to be working within the power rep range. Increasing your volume over time within this specific range.

I’ve listed a table below, with the reps, sets and percentage of 1RM required for power, hypertrophy and endurance.

PowerHypertrophyEndurance
Repetitions1-58-1212-15
Sets2-63-52-3
% of 1 rep max85-10075-8560-70

This means lifting within the 1-5 rep range, whilst lifting at 85-95% of your 1 rep max.

When working within this range, you are going to stimulate your type 2 muscle fibres, which are the muscle fibres required for power and exertion.

Final thoughts

If your client partakes in any sport which requires them to exert their lactate threshold, you may be missing out on some critical data, if you don’t regularly have them doing a peak power output test.

This blog was written by Joshua Forster

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