Over the last few weeks we have been looking at recovery and nutrition. The third in this series is during workout recovery:
During Workout Recovery Nutrition
- During the workout you can generally absorb about 1g of carbohydrate per kilo of body weight. There is some recent research (by Jeukendrup) that suggests that this figure can be improved with different combinations (glucose/fructose, caffeine/carbohydrate, maltodextrin/fructose etc).
- Consider a sports drink with a 1:4 ratio of protein to carbohydrate. Research suggests that it increases glcogen synthesis, decrease muscle damage and aids recovery. It may also help endurance during your ride, but this is inconclusive.
- Aim to consume between 500-800ml/hr of a 6-8% carbohydrate drink, depending on heat and sweat loss (up to a litre in extreme conditions). This will mean that you will need to consume about 20-40g of carbohydrate an hour to make up to 1g/kg/hr.
- Drinks should contain between 0.3-0.7g/L of sodium also.
- It is also important to test and trial any food in training that you are planning to use in races. Palatability is also an important consideration.
Think of your efforts as being limited. You only have so many, so ensure you don't waste them. Some people like to view this as burning matches. Each effort you make is a match burned and you only have so many matches in your matchbox. Don't waste them doing unnecessary efforts. Some you will be forced to make, but don't waste energy without reason. Keep out of the wind when you are not on the front and don't be a hero unless it is helping you achieve your goals! There is no point sitting on the front longer than everyone. Save it up for a more strategic opportunity.
When the pace is on keep cadence high (100-110 rpm on the flat and 80-90+rpm on hills (this method was made famous by Lance Armstrong who you could often seen pedalling at 100+ rpm on the final climb of mountain stages in the Tour de France) - this will be something you will need to get used to in training). When the pace is not too hard pedal at a comfortable cadence (90-100rpm).
The simple take away message is to consume 1g/kg/hr of carbohydrate and 5-800ml of fluid on your ride and make your efforts count.
Starting last post we began to take a look at recovery and nutrition. The second in this series is pre workout recovery. What you do before you even begin a workout can make a huge difference to how well you recover after the session.
Pre Workout Recovery
- Warm up well to ensure your aerobic system is running well. 10-15 minutes in a lower aerobic zone (65-70% max HR or 50-60% of AT power). Start at the low end and build up. Include a couple of 1 minute blocks at 120 rpm and an easy gear.
- If racing, you could include 1 or 2 x2mins at 90 % of AT and lengthen the warm up to 20-25 minutes depending on the event. Spin easily for 5mins at the end of the warm up and finish it as close as possible to the start of the event (this is to prevent oxygen uptake from returning to baseline levels).
- Eat the last main meal 3 hours before the event. This should be high in carbohydrates and low in fat.
- Consume a small high carbohydrate snack 1.5 hours before the event. This could be some cereal, sports drink and bar or similar.
- Ensure you are well hydrated in the 24 hours leading to the workout (pee should be a light straw colour).
Obviously you will be apply this more seriously during competition, but the more you can do during training the more you will set yourself up to recover well from each session and therefore get more benefit from training.
Next week: During workout recovery and nutrition.
Over the next few weeks will we take a look at recovery and nutrition. The first in this series is post workout recovery:
Post Workout Recovery• Active warm down (spin easily for 5-15 minutes after each session - the longer the better - 5 minutes is the absolute minimum!)• Take a high carbohydrate drink immediately after a workout to replace fluids and glycogen stores
• Consume a high carb meal, with some quality protein, within 2 hours of the workout (the sooner the better)• After strength, intervals or long endurance sessions consume 0.5g/kg of protein (e.g. a whey protein product or a tin of Salmon etc) within 30-60 minutes• Apply the pro cyclist rule of thumb: Why stand when you can sit, why sit when you can sit with your feet up, why sit with your feet up when you can lie down.• Watch the Fitlab Blog over the next few weeks for more on recovery (including compression garments, hot cold water therapy etc) - We will also take a look at race and training nutrition
More Training Benefit
As yet unpublished research bathed muscle cells in bicarbonate compared to a salt solution (both of these are with no exercise). After three days there was an increase in mitochondrial protein of 50%. The cell also took on characteristics of an endurance trained cell (increased energy consumption at rest, increased glucose transport, increased glucose and lactate transporters).
One note of caution is that it is recommended to decrease salt intake as consuming baking soda also provides sodium to the body. 14g of baking soda provides the same sodium as 9.6g of salt (RDA for salt is 6g/day). Athletes do lose more salt due to sweat loss so there is debate over whether this is a problem over a long time frame. It does make sense though to reduce dietary sodium intake while consuming baking soda on a day to day basis.
Firstly while taking baking soda it is recommended that you reduce salt in your diet to a minimum. Also those whose doctors suggest reduced salt in their diet should avoid baking soda supplementation.
Before high intensity workouts, such as intervals, consume 0.1g/kg of body weight at 90 minutes and again at 30 minutes prior to the activity. The bicarbonate will stay elevated in the muscles for 80 minutes after this so aim to do your efforts by this time. The ideal interval type would be VO2max, AT/LT, big gear etc (efforts of around AT/LT intensity or higher and 3 minutes plus in length. Generally high intensity aerobic workouts).
Using the above dose recommendations can be used during competition also, but it would be prudent to try it during training or a low priority event to test how it effects your gut.
Drop me an email if you want to know more firstname.lastname@example.org
1. J. Appl. Physiol. 1998 85: 627-634
2. J Clin Invest. 1931 9: 601-13
3. J Appl Physiol. 2006 101: 918-25
4. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2007 293: E916-22
Deciding on what supplements to take can be a headache, but here is something that has been shown to improve performance and the effectiveness of your training. And is cheap!
Studies as early as 1931(2) showed the potential for baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to buffer lactic acid in the exercising muscles. This meant that the athlete could sustain a high level of intensity for longer, and could therefore improve performance during competition. Unfortunately the baking soda caused intestinal distress in a lot of subjects and after many other studies lost popularity due to these side effects. Recent research by Dr David Bishop (team sport research group, University of Verona, Italy), the world expert in the effects of bicarb on human performance, shows minimal, if any distress if the baking soda is taken in two doses of 0.1g/kg of body weight at 90 minutes and 30 minutes prior to exercise.
In 2006 a study (3) showed a 9.6% larger improvement in power at lactate threshold (LT/AT/OBLA all terms used to describe the intensity at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood - the best predictor of endurance performance) in subjects who did interval training combined with bicarbonate (baking soda) supplimentation when compared to those who just did the interval training. The bicarbonate/interval group also showed a 41% greater improvement in time to exhaustion (at 100% of VO2max) over the interval group. Another study (4) using rats showed an increase in cell mitochondria (the cells aerobic energy factories) of 7.5% and an increase in MCT4 (a protein responsible for lactate removal). The exciting thing is they only looked at slow twitch muscle fibres and the potential to increase mitochondria is greater in fast twitch muscle. Interestingly too, the number of mitochodria in fast twitch cells is one of the biggest determinants of speed/power at LT.
Part 2 next week will discuss:
- Fitlab recommendations on how to use baking soda in training
- more training effects from new and yet to be published research.
Real world tests can give valuable information on how training is influencing performance. Simple Time trials over a set course will do this, as long as most of the variables are controlled. The weather, wind conditions, temperature, fatigue, time of day, and so on need to be the same for repeat tests, to be sure training status and not a 80knot southerly is the reason for a quicker time. The use of a wind trainer can minimise variations, but also has its drawbacks. As many variables as possible should be recorded such as heart rate, time, distance, speed, power output, equipment and weather. These tests are easy to perform and should be done on a regular basis.
Critical Powers (CP)
Critical Powers are the maximum average power output you can sustain for a set time. They are usually over 5 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes and 20 minutes (CP 5 second, CP1, CP5, CP20). These can be compared to other riders data to see what level and riding suits a particular rider and their current fitness (Hunter Allen and Andy Coggan compiled a list of these for each category of rider). A rider can also use them to prescribe their training and track improvements.
Anaerobic Power can be measured via a Wingate test. This is an all out test lasting 30 seconds. A peak and average power output (gross and power: weight), total work and power drop off (fatigue index) are all measured. This test is especially important to track riders, but is also important for road and mountain bikers where short bursts of power are required. It can also assess the training effect of short, high intensity, intervals (less than one minute), by doing a Wingate tests before and after a short interval training block. Elite track riders can produce upwards of 2000 watts with 60-70 fatigue over the 30 seconds. Elite road riders produce less gross power (eg 1000-1200 watts) but fatigue less over the 30 seconds (20-30%). Elite women produce around 20-40% less power, but show similar figures for fatigue as the men, for both road and track.
Although it is nice to compare test results with elite riders, their greatest benefit comes from monitoring training progress and giving information that can used to determine accurate training intensities. Planning out the season, deciding when to peak, monitoring progress and training effectively with the time that is available is critical to doing well in any sport. Taking time for a little preparation and evaluation will go a long way in fulfilling your season's goals.
This article was written by Andrew Jamieson of FITLAB, a sports testing and coaching company.
Continuing on from Fitlab Blog 1, I will discuss some physiological tests which can be used to help improve our performance, including: VO2 max, Anaerobic Threshold (also known as AT, LT or OBLA) and blood tests.
These tests (described below) are useful in measuring current performance levels, effectiveness of training, physiological changes, and prescribing accurate training intensities.
VO2max describes the maximum amount of oxygen that an athlete is able to extract from the air. As oxygen utilisation is vital to aerobic performance, VO2max indicates potential for endurance sport. To a greater extent VO2max is genetic, and improvements through training only result in increases of about 15-20%. Because of this VO2max does not need regular assessment, and one test, when an athlete is carrying good conditioning would suffice. Elite male cyclists usually have a maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) of 70+ml/kg/min and elite females of 55+ml/kg/min. Greg Lemond, in his day, recorded a VO2max of 97ml/kg/min.
Anaerobic threshold (also called lactate threshold LT or Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation OBLA) is the point of greatest lactic acid production in the muscles that is able to be removed. Above this point lactic acid accumulates in the muscles and eventually requires a reduction in pace. TT or race pace tends to be at or slightly above AT. "The ability to produce and maintain a high power output is the single most important physiological factor in determining the success of endurance cyclists".
To calculate AT an incremental or ramp test is most commonly used (see Fitlab General Assessment). Power output begins at about 90-120 watts and is increased by 25-40 watts every three or four minutes (protocols may vary between labs). The results provide valuable information that can be used to determine training intensities, and monitor the progress, and effectiveness, of a training plan. AT is very sensitive to training and as such should be constantly monitored throughout the season. Professional cyclists have AT power outputs around 4.6 - 4.8 watts/kg.
As the blood is responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients, as well as removing waste products, blood tests can provide insights to an athlete's general well being. Regular tests may help to predict fatigue and overtraining, and show the cause of impaired recovery or reduced performance. Baseline measures in the off season will give a guide to compare future tests with.
MSS or MSPO
Maximum steady state (MSS) is the highest workload (measured in watts and heart rate) that can be maintained over time without an increase in blood lactate levels. After doing an LT test a second test is undertaken at various intensities around LT for nine minutes each workload. For a rider with an LT of 300watts these workloads may be 295,310, 325 watts and so on. Blood lactate is taken every three minutes and a significant rise between any two readings indicates the intensity is above MSS. The results provide valuable feedback for TT and race pacing as well as training intensities. Professional TT specialists can produce over 400watts in long Time trials.
Before I launch into various types of testing, it is important to note why you would want to be tested in the first place. Why would a person suffer through a maximal exercise test, or find out what your body fat is?
There are several reasons, the first, and I believe the most important, is that testing provides current information on the correct intensities to train at. This information is specific for the individual and changes as your fitness changes. To put this into perspective, lets take Lance Armstrong, and a sofa warrior, both aged 33. If we use 220-age to determine max HR then 220-33=187. Now we decide to prescribe both these men with the same endurance training workout of 70-80% of max HR 131-150bpm (beats per minute).This effort for the sofa warrior is likely to be producing a lot more lactic acid, than Lance's effort, as he is going to be working a higher percentage of his AT (Anaerobic Threshold or OBLA-Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation). Lance's huge aerobic fitness means his body produces a lot less Lactic acid and that his AT will occur at a higher HR. The sofa warrior may be over his AT at 150 bpm whereas Lance still has still has a good 28 bpm before he reaches his. This means that at 150 bpm our sofa warrior is at 100% of his AT and Lance is at only 83 %. This is only looking at HR and doesn't show the huge differences between the two in terms of power output. As aerobic fitness increases so to does the amount of power, produced at a given HR.
From this short example we can see that testing will help us know what our current AT, and relative training intensities are, as well as the amount of power we can produce at each. This helps us to track progress, determine if a training block was effective, or even compare ourselves to athletic population data. Most of all though, this information will help give us accurate, personalised, training intensities for our current fitness level. When we use these intensities in our training we train more effectively and make the most of the time we have available.
In the next Fitlab Blog I will discuss some physiological tests which can be used to help improve our performance, including: VO2 max, Anaerobic Threshold (also known as AT, LT or OBLA).