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BE PRO; DON’T FORGET YOUR LACTATE TRAINING.

BE PRO; DON’T FORGET YOUR LACTATE TRAINING.

HOW TO USE THE AIRHUB TO PRODUCE MORE POWER FOR LESS LACTATE

 

THE TRAINING THAT SHOULD NEVER BE OVERLOOKED.

When I was racing as a junior my Lactate curve was terrible. Just riding down the road made lactate seep from my eyeballs. I never knew how any of the older athletes could do it. They would just ride and ride impossibly fast without fatiguing. I would watch them climb after climb ride their bike effortlessly, while I was a slobbering mess. It wasn’t until later in my cycling career that the training techniques of the elites were explained to me. 

It wasn’t a difficult concept to train for, but it was able to provide incredible results rooted in some really solid science.

Lactate training.

Your lactate levels at any chosen power output or speed are going to be a good indicator of how long you will take to fatigue. This is what separates a Professional athlete from an Amateur. 

This is what the difference looks like on paper. And yes, this is real data.

Fig. 1. Comparison of an Amateur and a Professional cyclist’s Lactate curve.”

 

THE DIFFERENCE?

Substrate (fuel) utilisation. Fats, Carbs or Glucose? Lactate is produced when you start to demand more power than you are used to making. The enzyme hardware that chops up the Carbs and Fat in your muscle and blood into something usable by the cells isn’t operating fast enough and your body starts shortcutting the operation. It rips glucose from the blood stream and tries to burn it. (Lactate can only be produced when blood glucose is used). When your body takes these shortcuts a Hydrogen ion is left over (H+). The Hydrogen ion is what causes you all the pain and sore legs; these guys go around wreaking havoc and ultimately stop you from putting down the power. Lactate is the good guy that comes in and neutralises the Hydrogen burn. There is always an equal amount of Lactate and Hydrogen+ ions and that is what makes Lactate the perfect measure of what is going on inside your body.

Fig. 2. “The image above, shows that Muscle triglycerides and Free Fatty Acids (FFA) in the blood are used most at middle intensities; about 65% of Vo2 max. By training your body to produce more power when burning FFA and Muscle Triglycerides you will be able to ride longer and at a higher power output before fatigue sets in.“
THIS IS WHERE LACTATE TRAINING COMES IN. 

To become a better athlete you need to teach your body to use the clean burning fuels, Free Fatty Acids and Muscle Triglycerides, to prevent any excess Hydrogen damage at lower intensities; and to do that you need to increase the hardware available to burn those fuels.

SO HOW DO WE PROPERLY INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF ENERGY PRODUCING HARDWARE? 

It’s all about substrate (fuel) utilisation, and the good thing is that, every ride over 1.5hrs in length is working on your substrate utilisation. You store most of your energy in little batteries called Lipid droplets. If you pinch your waist, these are the little bubbly things under you skin. When these Lipid droplets are exposed to catecholamines, like adrenaline, they drop their bundle of Free Fatty Acids (FFA) into the blood stream. These are then picked up by your mitochondria and chopped up into the right type of energy. You basically have an unlimited supply of FFA; enough for between 60 to 100hrs of continuous riding. This is compared to Muscle glycogen with which you only have about  about 1hrs worth. As with all adaptation you need to stress the system, you need to ride at an intensity that will stress the energy converting hardware but not overload it. The ideal type of stimulus for these energy converting enzymes it to keep them operating at their maximum turnover rate for the longest period of time. You can't just ride harder, because your body will switch over to glucose, so you must ride longer!

The most effective Lactate block I have ever done was prescribed to me by one of the old head coaches at British cycling. What he had me do was ride between 75% and 85% of my max Heart Rate for between 2 and 4 hrs per day, for 10 sessions. This was the program:

Fig.3 “10 Day Lactate Training Program”

The above block is the exact training program he gave me and one I have used ever since. This block gave me a massive boost. The amount of power I could produce for the same amount of Lactate lifted by 30w in 10 days!!

If you are planning on racing any events longer than 2 hrs you need to try something like the above. It is essential that you optimise your substrate utilisation. By teaching your body to burn fuels cleanly you can ride the first half of the race with no fatigue in your legs, saving your batteries for the points in the race when it matters most. 

For the biggest improvements you need to be training at between 75% and 85% of max Heart Rate or 65% of Vo2 max Heart Rate. This heart rate zone is the point where the highest amount of FFA and Muscle Triglycerides are utilised (see Fig. 2). We use heart rate and not power for this prescription because of the length and type of effort it is. Lipid droplets, where you store most of your energy, only release their bundle into the bloodstream in response to catecholamines like Adrenaline. Adrenaline is also what causes your heart rate to increase and liver to start outputting more glucose. By paying close attention to the heart rate, we can tune in and monitor our catecholamines and stop ourselves from burning too much Glucose, and therefore produce Lactate. For the training to have effect it’s essential to keep in the correct zone and not get too excited and push too hard.  Not only that, but once you start training your body to burn fats over blood glucose, the fat mobilising responsiveness to Adrenalin is further enhanced, such that the fat will start to mobilise at a much lower concentration of Adrenaline when compared to a non-endurance trained individual.

Fig. 4 “Comparison of an Amateur and a Professional athlete’s Lactate curves, showing Heart Rate zones." Notice how lactate starts to increase rapidly just after the 85% mark. This shows that 85% is the correct maximum limit for these athletes. 85% is right before the point where too much Glucose starts being used, and fatigue will occur to quickly.

In Figure 4 we see that both athletes start to burn more blood glucose as their heart rate passes 85% of max. The only main difference between the 2 athletes is that the professional athlete is able to utilise a higher amount of Fats when he is riding, allowing him to get to a higher power output before switching to Blood Glucose. The only way to increase your consumption ability is to ride at the target heart rate zone for long uninterrupted periods of time. Your body will respond by up-regulating the enzymes required to chop up the energy. The great thing about training the body to burn fat at ever increasing rates is that it spares your stored carbohydrates which are needed later in the event for operating at higher intensities.
A word of warning: just as quickly as you have gained these massive improvements they can be lost again if you fail to do maintenance sessions.

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A LACTATE SESSION.

While the above training prescription (Fig. 3) was an extreme example, every athlete can benefit by including Lactate training into their program. Building up from 1hr per week of steady state intensity will bring about solid improvements in how you handle your energy.  

The most important part about this type of training is to get comfy. Riding fast and hard at this intensity sucks. While your body will adapt really fast at this intensity, it is a lonely training set. This is where the AIRhub comes in handy. Using the AIRhub you're able to reach these tempo targets easier, more often and at lower speeds. Setting the AIRhub to between 0.1 to 0.2 on CdA mode will give you between 30w and 70w of extra resistance at 30kmh, and reduce your riding speed by between 5kmh and 15kmh. Riding at high speeds makes these efforts really uncomfortable and dangerous depending on where you live, and it doesn’t give you anything more in return. The high speed and safety aspect is one of the main reasons athletes don’t like doing these sessions. Let alone finding a long, inclined road or someone to train with! Adding smart resistance means safer speeds on bike paths and being able to train with a partner even if they're not on the same session as you. Remember this is a metabolic effort not a neuromuscular one, we are working on the whole body - increasing metabolic enzymes, fat utilisation, glycogen storage and a raft of other whole body processes - your bike speed won't impact these outcomes. 

 If you don’t have access to an AIRhub all is not lost. A 2hr to 4hr climb would be perfect for these types of sessions - you need the long duration, coupled with the resistance to lower your speed. And remember, when using the AIRhub, just like on a hill, a reduction in speed will usually give you an extra 10 to 15% increase in power output for the same amount of mental effort.

Fig. 5 “The effect of time on substrate utilisation at 65% of Vo2 MaxNotice how as the duration increases, Free Fatty Acids (FFA) are relied on more heavily for energy. This is why the session must be carried out at an even pace (on the flat, a steady incline, or AIRhub) and for an extended duration of time. The longer the duration, the harder the fat converting enzymes are worked, the more adaptation occurs."
LET’S REPEAT THE KEY POINTS;

Training at 75% to 85% of your max heart rate will increase your energy converting enzymes, make it easier to get the energy to these enzymes, shift your Lactate curve to the right, supply you with an almost endless amount of energy, stop your legs from fatiguing and allow you to sprint to the finish after hours of climbing. 

TO FINISH WITH OUR PRO COMPARISON. 

There are a lot of every day weekend warriors that would beat professional riders in races of 10 seconds to up to 20 minutes. Where the big difference lies is that a professional athlete has spent time improving their ability to use clean burning fuel; improving their ability to mobilise Fats before Carbs or Glucose, which lets them stay fresh after hours of racing and many mountain passes.

 

Some Lactate training sets for you to try:

IAN MCKENZIE / AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF SPORT (AIS):

2x40km team roll throughs.

Building to 2x60km through the 2 week training camp.

GB COACH.

14 day Advance Base Conditioning block. (ABC)

3 day block; 2hrs/4hrs/rest

75% to 85% of max heart rate

To be used as a stepping stone between endurance Km's early in the season and High intensity specific interval sets.

RIC STERN/RST SPORT.

2x45min Medium intensity Endurance Training (MIET)

Wed/Sat. 85% to 90% of FTP

Used right through the season to maintain and build aerobic capacity.

FAST FREDDY/CARMICHAEL

Tempo training. 70-75 rpm

Starting at 20 minutes building to 1hr sets. 2x per week. Used as part of long endurance rides.

TRAINING PEAKS

Tempo; up to 2.5hrs @ 75% to 90% of FTP

Used as part of a balanced training program in the Base and Build phases. 1 to 2x per week.

All rides should have as little interruptions or variability in heart rate and power as possible.

TEMPO TRAINING TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR PROGRAM.

TEMPO TRAINING TO SUPERCHARGE YOUR PROGRAM.

WANT TO RAPIDLY IMPROVE YOUR AEROBIC FITNESS?

TRY INCLUDING THESE TEMPO INTERVALS INTO YOUR NEXT RIDE.

Tempo training is the first type of effort you are most likely to use your AIRhub for. Strategically placing tempo workouts into your training program has many advantages:

·  Improved free fatty acid utilisation, which spares muscle glycogen.

·  Increased mitochondrial development,

·  Improved aerobic efficiency.

·  Increased muscle glycogen storage capacity.

·  Better fuel utilisation during long races or rides.

·  Increased capacity for more intense workouts.

·  Better power and endurance at moderate intensities.

·  Greater comfort while cruising on rolling terrain.

 
HOW TO DO IT? 

Tempo is generally completed with a low pedal speed. Try to maintain a cadence between 75 and 85rpm while staying in the prescribed heart rate intensity. A slow pedal speed helps improve fatigue resistance and strengthens leg muscles. Be sure to stay in the saddle when you hit hills during your tempo workouts. Time spent in this zone will improve your aerobic capacity and supercharge your improvements when you start a high intensity block.  

It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the tempo workout with as few interruptions as possible; tempo workouts should consist of continuous riding at the prescribed intensity to achieve maximum benefit.

WHAT DO I SET THE AIRHUB TO?  

I generally recommend setting the AIRhub to CdA mode when you first start using it. CdA mode provides the most realistic riding feel. It simulates wind drag, so it is a resistance you are already used to. What level in CdA mode? 0.0 is off and 0.20 is full resistance. I recommend starting your new training half way, at a level around 0.1. This is the first time you have ridden with extra resistance so it is going to be a completely new experience for you. Once you progress through your training levels you can upgrade the resistance to the full 0.20. Starting on the maximum is tough, and even seasoned professionals have struggled to get through a 1hr ride with the AIRhub set to max.  

TO START MAKING THE MOST OF YOU TRAINING, INCLUDE SOME OF THESE TEMPO EFFORTS NEXT TIME YOU ARE OUT ON THE BIKE.
SESSION 1

Warm up for 10-15 minutes

3 x 8 minutes Tempo efforts at 75-85rpm

- Riding at 75% to 85% of max heart rate or 76-90% of FTP 

4-minute recoveries

Ride at endurance pace for the remainder of the session.

Cool-down 15min

 

SESSION 2

Warm up for 10 – 15 minutes

35 minutes tempo at 75-85rpm

- Riding at 75% to 85% of max heart rate or 76-90% of FTP

Ride at endurance pace for the remainder of the session.

Cool-down 15min

 

SESSION 3

Warm up for 10 – 15 minutes

15 minutes tempo 90 -95rpm

5 minutes recovery

15 minutes tempo 75 -85rpm

5 minutes recovery

15 minutes tempo 90 -95rpm

- Riding at 75% to 90% ftp or 75% - 85% Max Hr

Ride at endurance pace for the remainder of the session.

Cool-down 15min

 

  • Include between 2 and 3 sets of Tempo training per week during tempo block and base build phases.
  • ‍Continue with 1x per week in threshold and peaking phases to maintain high energy turnover.

ADVANCED TEMPO BLOCKS.

The following programs are designed for athletes using a periodised training program with a specific goal.

The final Tempo cycle is usually included between 4 and 6 weeks out from an event. The remaining weeks into the event are usually planned to include an easier recovery week followed by a Vo2 max or anaerobic block. I have used this periodisation format multiple times in the lead up to winning a World Championship, Commonwealth Games, and several national titles. A targeted Tempo - Vo2/Anaerobic block delivers a 1 - 2 punch of incredibly high performance and targeted results that very few athletes can match. After pulling off your first Periodised peak using these techniques you will have the knowledge and confidence to target any event, world wide.

Intermediate level Athlete Tempo Block

In the intermediate program we are using a slightly more mixed tempo block, it is designed to maintain a medium level of race fitness and speed.  The threshold and high torque efforts will keep your muscle active and shorten the length of the peak phase needed before racing.

Professional level Athlete Tempo Block

The Professional level program is for athletes that have previously completed several tempo builds and know their body well. This large volume of tempo will develop massive amounts of muscle fatigue, slow your leg speed and may reduce your race capacity in the short term. However, as the fatigue builds, metabolic signalling is underway to adapt and harden your legs. Harder legs set the foundation for your Vo2 and Interval sets. It means more sets with less fatigue and you are less likely to breakdown before you reach your goal. Your ability to resist fatigue is what ultimately determines how high you can peak and what type of athlete you will become.

THE 10HR PER WEEK TRAINING PROGRAM.

THE 10HR PER WEEK TRAINING PROGRAM.

10hrs per week training program!

 THE FASTEST WAY TO USE THE AIRHUB TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE.

Time is the eternal killer. "If only i had more time!" you shout "The things i could achieve!"

Here at Terrain Dynamics we understand that time is the final thing that limits your performance. If you had all day to go training then you would not be hanging around in Div.3 with these other old guys.

The biggest thing that separates amateurs and professionals is the amount of hours they do each week.

The performance pyramid looks something like this

1)      Putting your shoes on and riding your bike.

2)      Riding your bike hard

3)      Riding your bike longer than everyone else.

Everyone who races their bike or turns a pedal in anger on the morning bunch ride have the first 2 covered. Yet the guys who consistently win races, or tear apart the local bunch ride are the ones who work on their number 3. Duration.

As we have seen in earlier blog posts, 10% increase in average riding power can double our effective weekly training time. 30w of AIRhub resistance can double your effective weekly training hours and take you to the top of your grade very rapidly.

3 DIFFERENT TYPES OF CORE SESSIONS.

For someone working a busy week i like to prescribe 3 basic sessions. Its good to keep the sessions similar each week. This way the sessions can be effectively implemented on a morning commute and improvements can be monitored from session to session.

2hrs hard endurance - these will build the long term fitness and are the most important set of the week. This is the ride that will ultimately double your fitness. Try sit at a “Hard pace” for the whole 2hrs. Maybe around the 140 to 150bpm mark (75%-85%). This will change with comfort and fatigue. This is not a time trial but you want to feel a strong consistent load in your legs. The AIRhub is perfect for this. These efforts build a strong base of fitness and are what makes the biggest difference to your long term fitness. Anaerobic changes come and go, but these big sessions will keep you fit long term. As you get fitter each week your power output on these rides will continue to increase. Sometimes up to 10 watts per week.

1hr session with 40s hill sprints. 40s on - 30s to 1 min off, 4x reps, 3 sets 10 – 15 min between sets. This session builds muscle power. These are all out efforts – vo2 max style. Try to do them on a steep hill. 40s up, turn around and roll back to your start point, then bang, go again. The aim is to achieve the highest average power for the 4 reps of 40s. These are going to cause the most muscle damage each week but will help drive top end power and allow you to power over the small climbs in the group rides.

2hr Group ride. If you have time, add in a 2hr group ride in there on the weekend for a social, skills and intermittent power aspect.

RACE PREPARATION PHASE;

2hr session with 3x 8min efforts. This session converts the power efforts into longer duration. Try to execute the best set of 3x8 min reps as possible. Use your power meter to gauge your effort and weekly progress. If you want to miss a session, miss this one. Use the AIRhub for this session if you don’t have any consistent climbs.

 

The most important session of the week are the 2hr hard endurance.

Normally riders focus on the High intensity session and forgo the endurance rides. This is fine for a general training program as endurance rides are normally completed at a pace that is so slow it doesn't generate significant adaptations. The above training program pushes the endurance rides into the light as one of the most important sessions on the program. In all physiology literature, exercise competed below 70% max heart rate is considered recovery pace, yet cyclists spend most of their endurance training in this zone. Training with the AIRhub puts you right back into the aerobic zone and every single time you step on the bike you will improve. This This is why we see such massive performance gains as soon as endurance AIRhub riding is included in a training program.

This is an example training week.

Monday: rest

Tuesday: 1hrs with hill sprints

Wednesday: 2hrs hard endurance,  (or 2hrs with 3x8 minute efforts)

Thursday: 2hrs hard endurance

Friday: rest day.

Saturday: Bunch ride or 2hrs endurance

Sunday: 2hr Bunch ride

 

Feel free to customize the above to how you feel. Each person will respond differently to load and how much rest they need. 

Goodluck! If you use this program and have any success stories please be sure to let me know.

Cheers,

Michael Freiberg ,