CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS
Last updated: 2/22/2010
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
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
- optimum training
- nutritional support specific for that training and the event
- proactive and adequate recovery
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.
Here are 5 tips to consider.
- 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.
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 that you are reaching your
personal potential. For example, here are three measures that are commonly
No single number or test will do the job. That is why there is an
art to designing a 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
- 41% less likely to die from heart disease
- 58% less likely to develop diabetes
In the following webpages I will try to help you understand the physiology of
training and nutrition, and provide some practical tips along the way.
(Also discussed on the
Cycling Performance Tips
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