CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS - introduction
CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS
Your "personal best" athletic performance is the sum of:
We have no control over our genetic makeup. These inherited traits include lung
capacity, ratio of muscle fiber types, body habitus, and the mechanical
advantages/disadvantages of limb and muscle lengths. Detailed analysis of family
pedigrees suggests that these performance modifying traits can be traced back for
up to 6 generations.
- your genetic make up (or inherited potential)
- your training program to develop that potential
- minimizing barriers such as poor nutrition and inadequate hydration
The combination of these inherited traits not only set the ceiling or
upper limit for maximal personal performance, but can also determine how quickly we
respond to a training program and achieve our optimum. Two riders, training exactly the same
for an event, will improve at different rates. A study involving 650 subjects demonstrated
that a group of riders following the same endurance training plan, stratified into 5-10%
slow responders, 5-10% rapid responders, and the remainder spread inbetween.
And the improvement in VO2 max varied from 4 to 40%.
But rather than consider this as a limitation, understanding that there are personal
variations can be used to tailor a unique training approach that addresses your strengths
and minimizes frustrations when you see someone else improving at a different rate.
Here are 5 tips.
- BE PERSISTENT - Attitude can be everything. Even
though your maximum performance as measured by anaerobic
threshold (AT) or VO2 max. may be predetermined,
you can calculate and work toward your own personal goals. A cyclist who maximizes his or
her own AT at 93-94% of maximum heart rate will prevail over a genetically endowed
slacker who is trained below their maximum.
- BE PATIENT - Some of us reach our maximum more slowly, sometimes over years - in
fact one study documented a consistent, biopsy proven increase in type I muscle fibers
over a 5 year training program!!
- 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 along 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) means more than winning an easy
criterium with minimal 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.
How can you tell when you've reached your maximum potential? Individual measures such
as AT and VO2 max.
measure physiologic performance and can indicate when certain "body systems",
such as the cardiovascular system, have plateaued. But it is the combination
of several measures that will give you the best indicator of finally reaching your
personal potential. For example, here are three measures that are commonly used:
And it is the combination of multiple performance monitors that
gives you the answer. No single number or test will do the job. That is why there
is an art to designing training programs for cyclists, and success can't be reduced to
a simple mathematical formula.
- a standard time trial run month after month which integrates ALL aspects of your
performance (physical and mental) will level off no matter how much additional
training you put in
- your resting heart rate is at its minimum and will stop dropping
- the percentage of body fat will stabilize
Not to be forgotten are the health benefits of regular riding. Those that ride three
or four times per week are
In fact, the death rate from all causes combined is reduced by more
than 50% for those who participate in regular aerobic exercise.
- 41% less likele to die from heart disease
- 58% less likely to develop diabetes
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Cycling Performance Tips
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