Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fitness level - how does it work?


[Updated 2014-12-11 with an answer at the end of the post]

When setting up my profile at book.com I was asked to take a FTP test, or UPF. Don't ask me what it stands for... I happened to click a link called FTP test on the site, with the hope of reading more and all of a sudden a test was added to my scheduled work outs. I thought I clicked the wrong link so I went back to the same page, and clicked the link again - so now I have two FTP tests in my schedule. And as I have found out before there is no way to delete scheduled sessions...


Anyhow, after having done the test the first time, which was a 20 minutes bike ride, constant 2% climb with the target of having as high power performance as possible throughout the session. If I understand it correct my average power throughout the test determined my fitness level.


I got an average of 219,28 W in my session. I have never used a power-meter on my bike, and this measurement is calculated by the software so I do not know if it is reliable or not. My hope is that it is at least comparable between the sessions that I do. So, my fitness level after the test was set to "Amateur 9". OK, I can see the Amateur-label coming but what does a 9 mean? In my profile page I can read that when I do a new test and outscore 225,89 I will be upgraded.
When I later find my activity log it says:
So I think it is safe to say that the Amateur 9 is not something I would like to share on my Facebook or Twitter feed ;-)

I'm starting to find my way around the Bkool.com site after hunting for information the last week. And I can not find any information about the fitness levels. What steps are there? What should I target and why? Or is it just a pure test of my performance and that I can follow progress over time?

The one thing I have found out is that it does influence what training plans that are available. Which I have written about in my post about setting up plans. 

So, another email to the support to see if they can sort this out! 

Answer to the question - updated 2014-12-11
There are four main levels of your fitness level categories: Amateur, Active, Elite and Pro. These categories come with 10 levels. Amateur 1, Amateur 2 etc. a 2 is better than a 1. The step better than Amateur 10 is obviously Active 1. 

11 comments:

  1. Your answer was exactly what I was looking for. I just hit Amateur 10 last night (275 watts avg. for 30 minutes). Active status is next, at 284 watts. I'm loving this trainer and simulator software. A trainer workout is so much more physically intense than riding on the road. I can cram a hardcore workout into just 40 minutes.

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    1. Cool, glad that I could help. I also like the what it gives me in terms of workout. But not happy about that the product is not delivering everything they promised. So I've stopped using it and sent it back this week.

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    2. It's too bad you're sending it back. I was looking forward to following your detailed blogs about it.

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  2. What are the reasons you decide to return it? And what are you getting instead?

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    1. Hi Fredrik
      There are a few different reasons. The first was that the system did not deliver on the prommises they marketed. E.g. The 3D rendering of any rout in the world. No one of the routs I have uploaded are yet available for 3D view. In the marketing material when I bought the system it was said that the 3d world would be instantaneously rendered when you ride, or something similar. But I'd did not say anything about the not so instantaneously preparation that BKOOL had to do on their side before I could use it. I wanted to use this feature in preperation for races, to be able to pre-ride a race, or sections of a race at home before. This will not be possible.

      Another realisation that was more important was the realisation of how dependant the system was on reliability of BKOOL web services. I.e. Bkool servers have to work when I wanted to use the system. During my first two weeks of usage there were two nights when I could not use the system. This was absolutely not ok for me. I bought the system so I could manage to squeeze in a training session just then and there when I have time to do so. After two times sitting all dressed up for practice, sitting on the bike and realising I could not train I got fed up. I also feared what would happen if a small company like BKOOL would get into trouble, financially or technically. If there servers are not working all I have is an expensive bike stand ;-)

      My plan now is to wait and see until next autumn on what will happen with systems like Zwift and what trainers that supports third party simlulators. If I would by a trainer today I would either buy a Kickr and spend the extra money to get a open platform. Or just by a cheap trainer with manual alteration of resistans. No alternative in between those appeals to me. This winter I instead put my money into buying a skierg to stimulate another training interest, cross count skiing.

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  3. Hi Stefan,

    Thank you for the detailed reply!
    I actually went ahead and ordered a Tacx Vortex Smart instead of a BKOOL. Seems it has "solutions" to at least some of the problems you mention since Tacx does not use any online connection during cycling and also I think Tacx is a bigger company than BKOOL.

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  4. I am new to blogging and may get this wrong....I have been using the trainer for some time but had a few issues which despite emailing the company and some months later i have still not received a reply!! some of these issues have been resolved,not might i add through any help from BKool, i wonder can anyone else no longer select Ghosts when planning a ride? this has stopped from two days ago.

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  5. Does the fitness level function take factors like age and sex into account?

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  6. In case others read this post, I felt I should do Bkool justice by commenting on the 3D route feature. The way it works (at least one way) is that you upload a GPX-file, for example one of your own rides from Gramin or Strava. Once uploaded to Bkool as a new "route", it may take anything from 15 minutes to 2-3 days (usually 15-30 minutes) until a Bkool server has automatically processed it and created the 3D route. A slightly confusing thing is that when saving the route, it's immediately available, but creating the 3D version of the route may take a while, hence it may appear at first that the route is only available as a "map"-route. You receive an e-mail when the 3D creating is done. The option to ride the route in 3D virtual world is then added to the route. I've uploaded files of varying size, from 15k to an 92k MTB ride in the mountains, and the 3D option worked for all of them. Once the 3D route is available you can hop on your trainer and ride it with the 3D "virtual world" on your screen. Clearly, once created, you can re-ride the 3D version at any time.

    The 3D imagery is not great, but it works, and so much better than riding without it. When riding, Bkool will render the 3D "world" using current time-of-day (moonlight in evening, sun at day, etc), and even simulating the current weather (on the virtual ride location). I haven't been out in "rain" yet, so not sure what that would be like. For routes you are familiar with in real life, you can recognize where you are from the curves of the road, climbs etc. There are road signs telling you a climb is ahead, the occasional spectator, etc. I've read that Bkool will attempt to pick features from Google map onto the 3D world, but I can't say how well this works. My "worlds" are usually a road with surrounding hills/trees.

    But.. Here's my big grump with how Bkool controls my trainer (Tacx Neo): When there's a change in route steepness, Bkool instantly changes trainer resistance accordingly. It means that when cruising in 40 kph and hitting a 4% climb, you instantly feel the 4% resistance, while in reality the speed would carry and gradually reduce while resistance would gradually increase, giving you time to adjust gear/cadence. Likewise when hitting the top of a climb, the trainer will instantly adjust to the flat or descent, and suddenly you're at 35 kph speed or more. This lack of "smoothness" and realism is really annoying. And it gets worse if the GPX file you created the route from is "jagged" with occasional GPX inaccuracies. Like if a "flat" section has small sections of say 3% or -3% variations. Due to the instant change in resistance, these variations are largely exaggerated. I've used GPX-smoothing (Google it for online service) to improve the routes. It helps, but doesn't solve the root issue, and there's the issue with deciding how much smoothing to apply.

    Another Bkool annoyance (there are many annoyances with their software..): Once you create something in Bkool, there is no way of deleting. So, creating a 3D route, then wanting to adjust it for whatever reason (e.g. smoothen it), you create a new one and the old one still sits there. No way of deleting it! Sure, you can ignore it. But it's ridiculous. Lastly, I should mention again that I do not use the Bkool trainer - I use Tacx Neo - mostly riding on Zwift, but occasionally using Bkool. It could be the Bkool trainer will perform smoother (?) with Bkool software than the Tacx does. Then again, you'd think that the trainer does what the software tells it, and it should be the software's responsibility to mimic real world physics.

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  7. Hello, the BKOOL Pro automatically ajust, so the speed carries between different % its not super great, but it works ok.. :-)

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