Sub-maximal HR recovery test

Lamberts_submax_testAim of Session

A pre-training session protocol that allows the coach to assess the balance of fatigue and freshness







Session description

6 mins Cycle at 60% of your HR max Select gears that enable you to hold this value +/- 1bpm.
30s Re-calibrate your powermeter
6 mins Cycle at 80% of your HR max Make sure your cadence is similar to the first 6 minute block
3 mins Cycle at 90% of your HR max It might take a short while for you HR to reach this value - be careful not to go too hard. Keep cadence similar to first two stages.
90s Stop pedalling and sit upright, keeping still Ensure your cycle computer is set to record HR even if there is no cadence or power detected (a speed sensor attached to the spinning back wheel should enable data recording to continue for this 90s period)


This test, known as the Lamberts and Lambert submaximal cycle test (LSCT), has been developed with the purpose of monitoring and predicting changes in cycling performance. This test has been shown to be reliable, able to predict cycling performance, and also able to track changes in training status. By asking the rider to cycle at a constant 'stress' (keeping HR the same), the coach is able to look at the power developed for that given stress the body is under. Through this, the LSCT is able to track changes in training status and detect the consequences of sharp increases in training loads which seem to be associated with accumulating fatigue. For example, as you get fitter, heart rate decreases during exercise at a given workload (your power at a set HR will be increasing); However if your body is not well rested and recovered from previous sessions, you may pedal at 80% of your maximum HR, yet develop a power that is substantially lower than 'normal'. Some athletes who have reached a chronic state of fatigue (over-reaching or over-training) may even develop MORE watts for the heart rate target - as HR suppression is commonly seen in this state. The coach will know how to interpret these responses.

Application for the Rider

Monitoring the training load is tricky for the athlete and coach. There is always a temptation to train harder when the watts seem to stagnate or even drop in training or racing. Having an objective measure of 'rested-ness' alongside your training load is a Holy Grail for the sport scientist. The LSCT looks a promising tool in this respect. This test is very easy to incorporate in your training week, as it is only 17 minutes long and acts as a good warm-up to a hard session

Practical tips!

  • Talk through with your coach the best time to do this session - like with most 'monitoring' tests, the more frequent the better. For example, once per week is a great way to build the database on your HR to power responses
  • Do your best to keep the conditions as similar week to week as possible i.e. the time you train, the time between eating and starting the session, caffeine intake, sleep duration. The more you can standardise the conditions, the more confident the coach can be in their interpretation of the data
  • The target HR for each stage should be taken from your most recent ramp test - check this with the coach. When pedalling in each stage, be sure to keep your HR within a bpm or two of the target
  • Be aware that dramatic changes in cadence will affect the power to HR relationship - keep this consistent each stage; and also across each week
  • Trying to hit 90% HR max is a skill. The first time you try this you may find you start too hard. 3 minutes isn't very long for you to hit the target, so do your best to judge the intensity / effort needed - and store this information for the next week
  • Do your best not to fidget in the 90s recovery period and maintain an upright position - gravity affects HR too!