Tip: Listen to your body, pay attention to the signs/signals. Sometimes these signals come from different places.
The other day, I cycled out to meet up with the in-town Atlanta Tuesday night hammer group. As I was riding over, each hill seemed taller and steeper than necessary. I was looking for more gears than the bike has available…. and I started to realiz this was not going to be a hammer night for me. Maybe I’m just not warmed up yet – it has happened before – I feel rough for 10-20 miles, then suddenly the muscles warm-up and are ready to go to work.
As I rode up another climb, I attempted to shift to an easier gear – I was in the easiest…. I peeked at the Heart Rate (HR) monitor and sure enough I was about 15 beats lower for the effort that my body felt like it was at. This was a sign that my HR was not responding to the effort that my body was attempting to put out. Was my central nervous system suppressing the Heart? Or is it that the heart muscle was too fatigued to move the amount of blood that my body normally needs for this effort. Either way, it wasn’t there.
I spun easy for a few more miles and started up another rolling hill – still my HR was reaching the normal numbers, and my legs were grumpy about the strain I was putting them through. So, instead of meeting up with the group, I made the turn to go along the same route ahead of them, and spin much easier.
Your body sends you signals about what is going on, it is your brains job to interpret what those signals mean. For me, I did trail work on Saturday, I did a 5 hour ride on Sunday, Monday was off. My HR wasn’t getting to the upper range (zone 4) like it should have for the effort I was putting out.
The night before I happened to check my HR as I was ‘trying’ to fall asleep and it was about 5-7 beats high.
All of these added up means that I needed another day of rest, and since I was already on the bike, I did an easy, active recovery spin. There is no gain in stressing your body when what it needs to get stronger is recovery.
When you pay attention to the signals that your body is giving you, it becomes much easier to put them together to realize what they all mean.
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Read what it was like for me to go through the TEST
Before I even get off the bike Tony is going over some of the results.
He (again) stated something that I was surprised about – you have a fantastic base – you would be a type of person that would waste their time doing base work. Because of the graph, he could see that I was able to stay very aerobic throughout a lot of the test.
SO, then he says – I bet you hate time trialing, don’t you? Yes. Tony says ‘well guess what you most need to do to see improvements…. tempo work just above your threshold’.
Tony explains to me that the results show that the strength and the aerobic base is there, but my blood system can not keep up with delivering the oxygen and flushing the lactic acid as fast as my muscles are creating it. So, on the trend plot you can see that my Heart Rate stayed above my VO2 for nearly the whole test…. not ideal. My body needs to get used to flushing the lactic acid more efficiently & for that to happen, the body has to be creating it also….. so that means, I have to ride at a high Heart Rate for a duration of time, ala Time-Trialing, or what I like better extended climbs.
Now, we are talking about how/why of genetics, strengths and weakness that I have, how that reflects what the graph shows & and how that will effect the events that I can do well in and the one’s that I will have more trouble with and may just get discouraged with trying to attempt. Which is funny, a good friend once said to me, I’m not built for climbing – once I stopped trying to race all the little climbers and focused on the races that suited my body, I became a much happier bike racer. She ended up placing in US National Crit championships that year.
Train your weakness, race your strength!
Results and REVIEW of MY VO2 Max test is:
So, you can see from the graph that my anaerobic threshold is 166.
My VO2 maxed out at 55. Not bad, not great – and room for Improvement with the proper workouts!
PRO: Very Good aerobic base – again, I’m shocked. But the numbers don’t lie.
Good power at Lactate threshold – over 400 watts.
Needs Improvement: RECOVERY. look at the 2nd chart, the drop off of Heart Rate is too slow. For competitive cycling, you want your recovery rate to be much quicker so that you can attack, recover and attack – repeatedly. My HR took a little too long nearly 2 minutes to get back down from 180 to 120. Although this will easily change with intown group rides and interval training.
The GOAL: More efforts at Threshold. Or I can do more long Hill Repeats, mountain climbs.
It almost like cheating, but not really. I can do the same workout if I go to the North GA mountains where I can do long climbs of 10-20 minutes at my target heart rate.
Knowing where your baseline numbers are is a Huge benefit for cycling. A VO2Max test will show you where your strengths and weakness are, and from that you can find out the workouts that will best benefit your riding and racing! This is the way to train more effectively and more efficiently in less time.
Up Next: My workouts to change my VO2 Max!
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VO2 max is the maximal oxygen uptake or the maximum volume of oxygen that can be utilized in one minute during maximal or exhaustive exercise. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight.
VO2 max or maximal oxygen uptake is one factor that can determine an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. It is generally considered the best indicator of cardio-respiratory endurance and aerobic fitness.
Elite endurance athletes typically have a high VO2 max. And some studies indicate that it is largely due to genetics, although training has been shown to increase VO2 max in untrained athletes up to 15-20 percent, but well-trained athletes are unlikely to realize an increase in VO2max of greater than 3-5 percent. A major goal of most endurance training programs is to increase this number.
Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be used by the body for maximal sustained power output (exercise). Since the body uses oxygen to convert food into energy (ATP), the more oxygen you can consume, the more energy, power, or speed you can produce. VO2max defines an endurance athlete’s performance ceiling, or the size of his or her “engine.” Research has shown that VO2max significantly determines performance in endurance-based events such as cycling, triathlon, running, and Nordic skiing.
Track Elite National Points Champion Daniel Holt getting his VO2 Max Test:
How is VO2 Max measured?
Many endurance athletes already have some idea of what a VO2max test entails: an incremental increase in exercise effort until the participant is unable to continue increasing his or her workload. The athlete can perform the test using any number of exercises: running, cycling, rowing, and even swimming.
Read what I thought of this experience Here
Because VO2max will vary between sports for various individuals, athletes will generally perform the test in his or her preferred sport. Regardless of the testing modality used, all the tests do the same thing. They take a happy-go-lucky individual and turn him or her into a grimacing, suffering, and most importantly, gasping test subject. As exercise intensity increases, a machine calculates oxygen consumption (VO2) by collecting and analyzing the test subject’s inspired and expired air. With each incremental increase in power output by the athlete, more muscle mass is employed and more oxygen consumed. VO2 will thus increase linearly with exercise intensity until the body reaches its maximum ability to consume oxygen. At this point, oxygen consumption will level off, or plateau, when the subject reaches his or her VO2max.
The VO2 max test will nearly pinpoint your lactic threshold, which is the heart rate you will be able to sustain during a timetrial.
A test will also show you exactly where your Heart Rate Zones efforts are for training – this takes the guess work out of estimating your zones!
A great thing about a VO2 Max test is that it gives you a gauge of specifically where your body is at and where your efforts will give you the best results. For instance, some people go anaerobic quickly and thus, need to do more base (Long Slow Distance) miles.
Or maybe you have a good base and need more hill repeats, or maybe you need more high intensity intervals.
Some people have good lung capacity, but not enough leg strength while others have great leg strength, but not enough lung capacity to supply the necessary oxygen to those legs and need to do Time-trial efforts.
The VO2 max results will give you a graph of evidence where you are doing well and where you could improve with the proper intervals.
Just send an email via the contact page to get an appointment!
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