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How to measure your Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP)
3-2-1-go

Measuring your MAP “at home ”

MAP – the most important determining factor of endurance performance – can only be measured in aerobic activities where real-time feedback on power (watts) is displayed.

To display power on your bike, there are many options :

  • a home trainer (Wahoo Kickr, CycleOps…)
  • a power cranks (SRM, Stages, Quarq…)
  • power pedals (Vector, Look, Garmin…)
  • rear hub (Power Tap)

On a rowing machine, you can use the concept2 Watts Calculator.


The “one-minute incremental” protocol

  • Start the test at a very low intensity (one you’d spontaneously choose to warm up),
  • After every minute, increase the intensity by 10 watts, until you cannot maintain it,
  • The power at the last one-minute increment completed is your MAP.

Possible improvements

With a good training program, a mid-level athlete can generally increase his/her MAP by about 20 to 40 watts in one season. I personally increased my MAP from 380 to 440 watts in less than three months doing 2 to 3 high-intensity interval training workouts per week.

To better gauge your personal results, here are MAP averages of cyclists :

  • the average Joe : usually below 150 watts
  • those who regularly train : 200 and 380 watts (men and women, respectively)
  • elite cyclists : 420 . and 380 watts (men and women, respectively)
  • great champions : 500 and 450 watts (men and women, respectively)

On a hill, weight matters !

On a flat road, cyclist A (80kg and a MAP of 350 watts) will outperform cyclist B (50kg and a MAP of 300 watts). But going up, weight comes into play and the cyclist with the higher MAP/weight ratio will be the ass-kicker !

On a hill, cyclist A (relative MAP of 350 watts/80kg = 4,375 watts/kg) will now lag behind cyclist B (relative MAP of 300 watts/50 kg = 6,0 watts/kg).


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Guy Thibault

Guy Thibault

Docteur en physiologie de l’exercice, Guy est directeur des Sciences du sport de l’Institut national du sport du Québec et professeur associé au Département de kinésiologie de l’Université de Montréal. Ses deux derniers livres sont des succès de librairie : Entraînement cardio, sports d’endurance et performance ; et En pleine forme, conseils pratiques pour s’entraîner et persévérer.

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