The 6 key skills of cycling

Health Fitness

When you think about it, training for high-level cycling performance isn’t that complicated. It is about improving six physiological capacities: aerobic resistance, muscular resistance, lactate threshold, aerobic capacity, anaerobic capacity and neuromuscular power. Developing these skills effectively is what allows the best cyclists to ride incredibly far and fast.

endurance aerobics It is the basis of all cycling training. It consists of the body’s ability to use oxygen to produce energy for the muscles over a long period of time. In practical terms, aerobic endurance is Zone 2 capacity (eg, 60% to 70% of maximum heart rate). It allows cyclists to literally spend hours riding their bikes. To successfully complete long rides, cyclists must train their bodies to store large amounts of glycogen and efficiently burn fat as a primary energy source. This is most effectively accomplished through long walks at a comfortable (ie, conversational) pace.

muscle hardening refers to the ability to pedal in relatively large gears, at a moderate cadence (eg, 80-90 rpm), for a prolonged period. This ability allows riders to generate significant power on the bike. While aerobic endurance is directly related to the cardiovascular system, muscular endurance has to do with the development of the musculoskeletal system. This can include both on and off-bike training; however, the most effective way to improve muscular endurance is also the easiest. Climb lots of hills!

lactate threshold (LT) is the main area of ​​development focus for competitive cyclists. It is the best predictor of running performance for many cycling events. Unlike aerobic capacity (VO2 max), lactate threshold is also very trainable, which is one reason training zones are often based on LT. In the simplest terms, the lactate threshold is the highest intensity that a fit cyclist can sustain for 60 minutes. Any increase in intensity beyond this threshold level requires a reduction in effort because the body begins to produce lactic acid faster than it can get rid of it. The higher a cyclist’s lactate threshold, as a percentage of aerobic capacity, the faster he can ride the bike. Lactate threshold is best developed through interval training done at or slightly below the threshold level.

aerobic capacity It is the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can consume during high-intensity exercise. While not a great predictor of cycling performance (for example, you may have a very high VO2 max but a relatively low lactate threshold, which will lead to weak performance), it is a very good predictor of endurance sport potential. . Unfortunately, aerobic capacity is not as trainable as lactate threshold. While some improvement is possible, VO2 max. for an experienced and constantly trained athlete not much will change. However, aerobic fitness training should be a key component of your training regimen and typically consists of very hard Zone 5 intervals (around 90% to 95% of maximum heart rate) lasting 3 to 5 minutes.

anaerobic capacity it is the ability to ride at a very high intensity for a relatively short period. While not a 100% effort, it is more closely related to 60-90 second long runs and very hard efforts on short hills. Anaerobic capacity is important in cycling events that require repeated explosive movements, such as track cycling, as well as road and mountain bike races, where attacks and bridging between groups are common.

neuromuscular power It is the ability to pedal a very large gear, at a very high cadence, for short periods of time (10 to 30 seconds). It’s all about recruiting fast twitch muscle fibers to generate force very quickly. In other words, run full speed. Cyclists who want to ride very fast over short distances must develop neuromuscular power. This is best done with short, maximum effort sprints, lasting 15-30 seconds with the opportunity for a full recovery between intense efforts (3-4 minutes).

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