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.

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.

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.


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.

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Cycling Performance Tips
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