Based on the website WWW.CPTIPS.COM

This blog is based on the scientific content in the website Cycling Performance Tips. Idea about a new topic --forward it to the webmaster for CPTIPS.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Reaching your Personal Best - it's the balance of training, nutrition, recovery

Your "personal best" in any aerobic athletic event or endeavor is ultimately limited by your inherited (or genetic) makeup. But on the practical side, it is really the triad of:

  1. optimum training
  2. nutritional support specific for that training and the event
  3. proactive and adequate recovery
that will decide how much of your genetic potential is realized. In fact, it is not that unusual to see someone of lesser potential beat an athlete with the genetic gifts based on their commitment to a balanced training program.

Your genetics set the limits of your lung capacity, ratio of muscle fiber types, body habitus, and the mechanical aspects (advantages/disadvantages) of the relationship between limb and muscle lengths. Detailed analysis of family pedigrees suggests that both positive and negative genetic factors can be traced back for up to 6 generations.

This combination of inherited traits not only sets the ceiling or upper limit for personal maximal performance, but can also determine how quickly you will respond to a training program to achieve your optimum. Two riders, using exactly the same training program for an event, will improve at differing rates. A study of 650 subjects demonstrated that a group of riders on exactly the same endurance training plan, stratified into 5-10% slow responders, 5-10% rapid responders, with the remainder spread inbetween. And their ultimate improvement in VO2 max varied from 4 to 40%.

Understanding how you respond (compared to others) is just one part of tailoring your unique training approach which will address your strengths and needs to be understood to minimize the expected frustrations when you see someone else improving at a faster rate.

You can gain an edge by understanding these advantages of following a sound training regimen for an event to give you the edge you need. The content of this website, although originally written to minimize the limiting effects of poor pre event and event specific nutrition, will also touch on training theory and tips as well as the third component, a proactive recovery training strategy.

In the series of blogs that will follow, I will comment on all aspects of training, nutrition, and proactive recovery as they relate to developing your own a personal training program. Feel free to add comments or ask questions as they cross your mind.

Here are 5 tips to remember -
  • BE PERSISTENT - Attitude can be everything. Even though your maximum performance as measured by anaerobic threshold (AT) or VO2 max. may be predetermined, you should understand and work toward your personal optimums. A cyclist who maximizes their own AT at 93-94% of maximum heart rate can prevail over a genetically endowed slacker who has trained below their maximum.
  • BE PATIENT - Some of us reach our maximum more slowly, sometimes over years. One study documented a consistent, biopsy proven increase in the ratio of type I muscle fibers (and improvement in performance) over a 5 year training program!!
  • DON'T BE AFRAID TO TRY DIFFERENT TRAINING ROUTINES - When you feel you may have plateaued with your current training program, take a break and try alternatives - intervals, weight training, more rest. Or switch to a different type of ride, from stage races to a long tour for example.
  • BE SMART - Technique (smooth pedal stroke) and tactics are important attributes of a premier rider, along with psychological toughness. It's not all aerobic or anaerobic capacity, so don't sell yourself short. A positive attitude combined with riding smarter can make the difference.
  • SET THE RIGHT GOALS - Set realistic goals that give you the satisfaction of achievement rather than unreasonable ones that lead to disappointment from flailing at the impossible. Breaking your PR (personal record) can mean more than winning an easy criterium with little competition. And maintaining good health along with the camaraderie of a training group add to the satisfaction of training for a personal time or distance goal.
Dick Rafoth


  1. Hi Dick, as always a great article by you :-).
    My question is: how many time a rider can be on his personal best ? And how this can influence on training techniques, in particolar for lesser potential athletes ?

  2. Evening Antonio, you have asked a philosophical question to which there is no absolute answer. But I know that if you apply the above 5 concepts, train smart, and eat/drink appropriately for the ride you have planned, you will more "personal best" performances than if you are inconsistent in those areas.

    Dick Rafoth

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