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.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Improving Your Times - measuring your "work" to maximize improvement

You have put in your base miles. You are feeling good on the bike. And you have made that personal commitment to improve your speeds and anaerobic threshold. But where next??

What is the best strategy to push your body, maximizing your improvement for the time you are spending on the bike. Your friends talk about heart rate monitors (HRM) and "training zones". You have read about lactate threshold and the theory of pushing your limits using intervals. And in surfing the web you have stumbled across numerous training "systems". But the numbers you read about vary from program to program. Which ones are right - is there some science to call upon as you optimize training to improve?

The very fact that you are riding regularly has already stimulated changes in the cardiovascular system, lungs, and muscle cells which improve your work capacity - for both endurance and sprint activities. Muscle capillaries will increase and the effectiveness of the muscles in extracting oxygen from the blood will improve. In addition,  muscle cell changes will improve the rate at which lactate is metabolized and as a result, the rate of removal of lactate from the blood stream increases. Thus the balance between production and removal is shifted towards removal and lead to better performance before lactic acid inhibits muscle performance.

But your biggest improvements will come with pushing your anaerobic threshold. All the approaches mentioned in the first paragraph are effective, and there is no proven "best one" (at least based on any head to head comparisons I could find). After chasing my personal numbers from day to day (my HR using a HRM, which varied significantly when I compared my HR to my road speeds and how I physically felt), I decided that perceived effort (PE) made more sense for my personal style (more on PE can be found at ). And for the last years, that is how I have trained. I have been much happier with my training, feeling less stressed than when I would miss my day's target, and I find I am just as strong as ever when it comes to my I do.

So in the end, I think this is a personal choice, and after you have a good training base, the real decision lies in the commitment to take that first step to push your comfort limits and stress the cardiovascular system.

Dick Rafoth