Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Boosting Threshold and VO2max to achieve fitness and performance

Here is an article posted Monday by Angie Sturtevant, on CycleOps Power, which pretty much supports what I've been preaching for 12 weeks during the HRC Power Advantage Program. Check out the workout at the bottom of the article..sound familiar? It should, it's one we did during our 12 week training program:

To keep the pedals turning, focus on boosting your threshold power and VO2max. These markers are the major predictors of endurance and performance and needed markers to determine accurate training zones. Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be used by the body for maximal sustained power output. Threshold reflects the balance between lactate production and removal. By raising your Threshold Power and VO2max, you will be able to produce more work and maintain the activity for a greater period of time.

Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) is determined by gas analysis assessment. Oxygen consumption is your ability to extract oxygen from the air, ability to ventilate, ability of heart to pump out blood and ability of tissues to extract oxygen from the blood. The body uses oxygen to convert nutrients into energy. Therefore the more oxygen you can consume, the more energy you can produce (the more power, speed, and work you can do). VO2max is your fitness ceiling, or like a car, it is the size of your engine.

Threshold reflects the balance between lactate production and removal, meaning it is the highest workload at which you can still nourish the muscles with O2 and remove lactate for energy production. In practical terms, it is the highest sustainable effort or the highest amount of work you can sustain before lactate begins to pile up in your blood. Like a car, it is your gas mileage. Your threshold power can easily be determined by taking the Power Test cycleops.com.
By raising your Threshold Power and VO2max, you will be able to produce more work and maintain the activity for a greater period of time. As the diagram shows, VO2max is a ceiling, determined primarily on the size of the left ventricle. Since the volume of the heart chamber doesn’t change drastically, you have a genetic ceiling you can obtain through training. After you have been training for a while, VO2 values may only increase a little (or not at all). However, threshold is quite dynamic and will respond well to appropriate training. Therefore the goal is to boost your threshold as far ‘to the right’ or as close to your peak as possible. In otherwords, VO2max is the puzzle and threshold is the main piece of the puzzle.

To drive those markers to the right, it will require high intensity work to build strength and power PLUS high mileage to build endurance and stamina to carry on the effort. If you want to increase VO2max, you have to train near it. This is very short bouts of your highest power outputs. To boost threshold, you will focus on training around it, and progressively increasing your training volume. By putting “near threshold” time in the saddle you will build powerful, long lasting muscles.

Although there are many workouts to achieve this goal, I can give you one workout that will get it all done at once. This workout focuses on boosting VO2max & threshold power within a 60-70 min period of time. Like a car, you’ll develop the max strength of a dragster engine and sustain the speed like an Indy car. Before doing the following workout, take the Power Test to determine your Threshold Power. You will then need to know 80-90% and 110% of Threshold Power.

After 10:00 warm-up, gradually ramp yourself up to 80% of Threshold power
Sustain 80-90% Threshold Power 10:00 to 20:00 (work your way up to 20:00)
5:00 Easy
3:00-5:00 90-110% Threshold Power - Finish with all out 10-20 sec effort
5:00 Easy
5:00 90-110% Threshold Power - Finish with all out 10-20 sec effort
5:00 Easy
3:00-5:00 90-110% Threshold Power - Finish with all out 10-20 sec effort
Cool Down 10:00

Monday, February 23, 2009

HRC Power Advantage Program

For all of you that attended the High Road Cycles (HRC) Power Advantage Program this Winter..awesome job! I know EVERYONE increased their Functional Threshold Power (FTP)..and that was the purpose of the Program.

I HIGHLY recommend all of you purchase Dr. Andy Coggan's and Hunter Allen's book entitled, "Training and Racing with a Power Meter". Everything that came out of my mouth during the past 12 weeks, can be found in more detail inside the book. There are signed copies (Hunter Allen) available for $20 at HRC.

Speaking of purchases...if you don't have a Power Tap or some other PM, consider buying one. It will help you tremendously for training and racing. Everybody ALWAYS complains about how expensive they are, but yet these SAME PEOPLE are the first to go out and buy the $2,000+ cool looking wheelset. I never understood that.

I also want to stress the importance of having your "bike fit" checked, not only for health and comfort but for maximizing your power output. And, this is the time of the year to get that checked..not in June when somebody notices how out of position you are..or when you're wondering why your knee hurts on every ride.

Don't stop now, keep training..you know the workouts you should be doing. Remember the physiological adaptation chart I showed you? That is the reason why I prescribe the workouts that I did/do..because they work..they make you stronger/faster.

Lastly, if you want to continue working and/or training with Todd Wiley and me..send us an email or stay tuned to this blog for upcoming camps/clinics. Todd and I are both coaches and if you want to get to that NEXT higher level..ask us about our coaching services. I specialize in Power Based Training.

From both of us (Todd and me)...great job..ride strong..ride with power! Coach Rob

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What is Twitter?

Discovered a pretty cool online service called "Twitter". What is Twitter? Twitter is a FREE service for friends, family, etc. to communicate and stay connected. And, not just family & friends, it's pretty cool to get up to date information on your favorite celebs, sports figures, etc. right from their own computer or phone. In fact, just a little while ago I saw this on Lance Armstrong's and Levi Leipheimer's Twitter page. BTW, Team Astana had an awesome day today, controlling the front end of the ToC stage:

Levi_Leipheimer The guys were so solid today. Like a machine on the circuits from twitterrific

lancearmstrong Today's circuits around the Rose Bowl. Hadn't been there since the 2006 Rose Bowl where UT took down USC 41 - 38. Amazing game. Hook 'em. from TwitterBerry

Levi_Leipheimer Finally got to meet Nicky Hayden after some email exchanges. Wish I could handle a bike like him! Really cool guy from twitterrific

Levi_Leipheimer On our way to Rancho Bernardo for the last stage. The crowds at the Rose Bowl were overwhelming! Everyone in the race was talking about it

Ok, so why am I a newbie Twitter fan? I think it would be a great way for us cyclists to stay connected..find out how guys are doing in local races this Spring/Summer...post race results, ...find a riding partner for the day..etc. Anything cycling really! But, I think the best use would be a way to hookup with guys that want to go on a training ride.

For you Blackberry users, they even have Twitterberry. I downloaded it onto my Blackberry and it works well.

Anyway, download Twitter and stay connected. Let everyone know when you're riding, how you make out at races, etc. I think it would be cool to see. Oh, and you can download pictures too..attached is a photo of Lance and Levi at breakfast before today's stage...as Lance would say..it's the sh$t.

Almost forgot, here's my Twitter address: http://twitter.com/robmuller You can always do a search too.

Gustav Larsson's Tour of California TT Power

If you didn't watch the latest Time Trial from the Tour of California, Solvang CA on 2/20/09, you missed one of the most exciting Time Trials I've seen in quite some time. Gustav Larsson, of Sweden, was leading the Time Trial with just a few racers to go: Armstrong, Rogers, Zabriskie and Leipheimer. First, Dave Zabriskie bested his time. Then, the yellow jersey leader, Levi Leipheimer, the last man out of the chute..not only beat Gustav Larsson's time but beat Dave Zabriskie's as well. Levi retains the yellow jersey with just two stages left in the Tour of Cali. That was an AWESOME Time Trial that Levi ran..not to mention the pressure that was on him to do well.

Here is Gustav's power file from the Time Trial. Gustav averaged 486 watts over the 30 minute Time Trial. That's incredible. His Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is somewhere in the neighborhood of 475 ish watts, with nearly a 6w/kg power to weight ratio. (Gustav weighs 80kg). That is WORLD CLASS POWER cycling fans.

I think what is interesting to note was that Gustav was nearly averaging close to his threshold on the downhill portion. Check out the elevation profile in orange..and then look at his corresponding power profile in yellow. Do you know how hard that is to do? Try it sometime when you're out riding..maintaining your FTP on a downhill. What is also interesting to note is how he maxed his Heart Rate out at the top of every ascent.

Good stuff! Cheers Rob

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tour of California Prologue Power

My friends at Training Peaks posted this information from yesterday's Tour of California Prologue: The data is from Gustav Larsson, Team Saxo Bank. (Hmmm, wonder why they didn't post the WINNERS, and fellow teammate, power data...world champ time trialer Fabian Cancellara? I'd love to see his data. Regardless, you get an idea of the Power required to compete on this level. If you compute Gustav's power to weight ratio, you'll see that his Power to Weight Ratio for this 5 minute effort was 6.6 w/kg. That isn't exactly a world class effort but it is a domestic pro effort. I'm guessing short flat Time Trials aren't one of Gustav's specialities. Still, 38th place, and 12 seconds out of the lead is NOT too shabby...when you consider that the Tour of California field is probably one of the strongest in the world. And, if you look at the Power Profile, or better yet watched the Prologue (TT) on TV you'll have seen that this Time Trial was a bit technical with sharp turns where riders had to coast into and or slow down to navigate safely . Regardless, great data to take a look at.

2009 Tour of California - Prologue - Gustav Larsson, Team Saxo Bank
Starting Line: Capitol Mall at 9th St.
Finish Line: L St. at 11th St.Day: Sat, Feb 14Start & Finish: SacramentoMiles: 2.4 KM: 3.9

Results: 1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Team Saxo Bank, 4:32.9092. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Astana, at 00:01.2043. David Zabriskie (USA), Garmin, at 00:02.64838 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank 0.12.6
Gustav Larsson's Summary Data:
Time 4:45
Average watts 529w
Body Weight 80kg

TrainingPeaks member Fabian Cancellara won the opening prologue of the Tour of California for Team Saxo Bank. His teammate Gustav Larsson placed 38th with a time of 4:45 after having averaged 529w.
As you can see within the file viewer post activity comments, Team Saxo Bank's Rider Development Manager Bobby Julich describes Gustav's as being satisfied with his result. However he was a bit tired perhaps from the team's recent training camp in Agoura Hills, CA. Bobby added, "Gustav said that he had a good warmup. A flat time trial like this is not his specialty."

Julich continued to point out that "This being his first race of the season, he is not dissappointed because there could be so many factors for his time. There were many riders who have peaked and tapered for this event and he did not. I think that he has the power to do a good race here and we will see in the days to come how he feels."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Free Beer

Yeah, I knew that'd get your attention. I figure I'd make these blogs fun. Therefore, I'm going to ask a question from time to time and to see if you're paying attention, reading, learning, etc. and if you're THE FIRST PERSON to answer the question correctly..I'll buy you a beer. That's right..a free (12 oz. draft) beer of your choice at a local bar/restaurant (Doylestown area- sorry out of town folks)

Here's the freebie beer question: 2 blogs ago I told you based on the CdA measurements provided you'd have to produce approx. 300 watts to ride in the hoods (or clip-on aero bars) at 25 mph. Why in this last blog did I say it only takes 278 watts (calculated) to ride 25 mph?
Coach Rob

CdA- what it is and why it’s important to cycling!

CdA, otherwise referred to as Coefficient of Drag, is the product of the Drag Coefficient- Cd (dimensionless) and Frontal Area- A (m2). It is a common metric used in the automobile industry where designers try to achieve a low coefficient to improve aerodynamics for maximizing fuel efficiency.

The typical frontal area for a bike/rider is between 0.4-0.7 m2. Let’s say 0.6 m2. And, the typical drag coefficient (Cd) for a bike/rider, riding with hands on the hoods, is 0.6. (BTW, a sphere/ball has a Cd of 0.5). Therefore, the overall CdA= 0.6 x 0.6= 0.36 m2 . Since CdA is a product of Cd x A, in order to reduce the overall CdA (our goal- the lower the better) you can either reduce Cd or A, or optimally- both. How do we do that? And, how do we measure that?

First, let’s answer: how do we reduce both Cd and A. We can reduce the Cd by paying particular attention to our equipment. i.e. TT bike (or road bike w/ aero bars), aero helmet, tight clothes, disc wheels, bottles mounted on frame, etc. And, we can reduce the Frontal Area-A by assuming a more compact/aero position on the bike. Now, how do we “accurately” measure our CdA? Well, falling short of renting time in a wind tunnel, and blowing close to $1000, you can do this with a Power Meter at your local Track (Velodrome), if there is one nearby, or you can buy an iBike Aero from Velocomp Sports and do it on the roads in your neighborhood. The iBike Aero, I like to say, is the poor man’s wind tunnel. It will compute a “snapshot” CdA as you ride. If you also have a Power Meter, like an SRM or Power Tap, with the new ANT+Sport Wireless protocol, you can compute a “continuous” CdA as you ride. Pretty neat huh? For more information on the iBike Aero, go to: http://www.ibikesports.com/ Or, you can email me about it: mullerrj@comcast.net and I’ll tell you more about it. The question I get asked most often about the iBike Aero is: Is it accurate? The answer: Heck yeah..I have the data to show and prove it.
How is CdA used? Here’s a quick example to highlight it’s application/use. The force on an object (cyclist in our case) due to aerodynamic drag can be calculated using:

F= CdAp[v^2/2]

F = aerodynamic drag force [N]
Cd = drag coefficient
A = frontal area [m2]
p = density of fluid [kgm-3]
v = velocity of object relative to fluid [ms-1]

So, you might ask: What is the force on rider if, Cd=0.55 and A=0.6 m2, w/ Air Density= 1.2 kg/m3 and Velocity= 11.2 m/s? (These are typical values for someone riding in the hoods at 25 mph):

Force= 0.55(0.6)(1.2)[(11.2)2/2]= 24.8 Newtons= 5.57 lbf

Alternatively, we know that Power= Force (N) x Velocity( m/s), therefore:

Power (to overcome wind resistance)= 24.8 N x 11.2 m/s= 278 watts


Power Requirement vs. Speed

Ahh..the need for speed. How do you get "speed" on the bike? Easy..pedal faster and harder. How can you tell how fast and hard you're pedaling? Your Power Meter silly. Don't have a Power Meter yet? Why not? I bet you have the latest kit and newest wheel set- don't you?

But, did you ever sit down and think about what's required to go a certain speed? It's really quite simple. All you need to know is how many watts you produce (uh oh, there's the Power Meter thing again) to go the speed that you currently go.

Here's an example: say you did an 8 mile Time Trial in Philly last year in your best aero position and you reviewed your Power Meter data to see that you averaged 24 mph with an average maximum sustained power of 270 watts. Well, ever wonder what the power requirement is to go 25 mph in your same "best aero position"? It's really quite simple to calculate since there are a bunch of Power Calculators on the internet..most FREE. Go to http://www.analyticcycling.com/ In this example, to average 25 mph you'd have to generate (and average) 300 watts. So, that's 30 more watts per 1 mph. (Did you know that you have to double your power requirement to go from 20 mph to 25 mph? Yup..no kiddin) A 30 watt/year increase doesn't sound like much but believe me it is...especially in elite and/or seasoned athletes. If you still don't believe me, ask an elite athlete how much they improved their Functional Threshold Power (FTP) on the bike from last year's peak.

Ok, so maybe increasing your FTP 30 watts from last year to this year is reaching a little too much. There ARE other ways to go faster..than pedaling HARDER and FASTER and that's to get MORE AERO. After all, 90% of the resistance that you're pedaling against is wind resistance. So, instead of trying to "muscle" through the wind (HARDER and FASTER) why not try to "slice" through the wind. Sounds easy..huh? Well, if you're thinking like I am..the next logical question would be: "how do I get more aero"? Do I have to buy a $5000 Time Trial bike to get more aero? I can't say it won't help/work, because it will..but before you blow $5k on a TT bike there are other things that you can do with your road bike + aero bars...and that is reducing your frontal area and drag coefficient..better known as CdA.

CdA will be the topic of the next blog..so stay tuned for more. Coach Rob

Attached is a graph of Power Requirement vs. Speed for the example above.