Wednesday, November 22, 2006



CHALLENGE! A little-appreciated physical ability is efficiency (often
called economy). Efficiency simply means that you're using less oxygen
to sustain a given riding intensity, which lowers your perceived
effort at that wattage output. We'd all like to become more efficient,
but how?

Most riders try to improve efficiency by improving pedaling style,
using one-leg pedaling or a fixed-gear bike. That's still important,
but as I understand the research, the two best methods are to strength
train your core muscles and to do intervals at slightly above your
lactate threshold (LT).


---Cultivate your core. Strength training stabilizes your body's core
so the pedal stroke is more efficient in a mechanical sense. If your
abs and low back are weak, your upper body will flop from side to side
as you pedal. Core strength is needed to hold it steady against the
forces generated by your legs. Added strength means that fewer muscle
fibers are needed to accomplish this task, as well as to pedal at a
given intensity, so your total muscle volume fatigues more slowly.

---Learn to love your LT. Riding at or slightly above your lactate
threshold trains the body to maintain high power output without going
anaerobic. The faster you can go while still staying below your LT --
the point where panting begins -- the more energy you'll have when it
really counts.

---Train at time-trial pace. A good workout, according to the
studies, consists of 10- to 20-minute repeats at your lactate
threshold (around 90% of max heart rate). That's time-trial pace. It's
brutal to do indoors. I find it much easier to ride at that intensity

---Apply the power. If you have a power meter to measure your wattage,
the newest research shows great gains are possible with only two
sessions per week of shorter, harder intervals. Do five repeats of 3
minutes each with 3 minutes of easy spinning between each effort.
Intensity is the key. You need to do the hard efforts at a wattage
equal to the average wattage you can maintain for 6 minutes all-out.
This will produce a heart rate above 90% of max by the end of the 3
minutes. A consistent program will boost your riding efficiency

Remember that the time trial and power workouts are tiring. Include
plenty of rest and easy spinning into your weekly routine or you'll
become tired and weak instead of more efficient.


LT said...

Everybody loves their LT.

KimC said...

I'm not sure if I love my LT but good post w/useful info!

nicol said...

Good article. You're funny, LT!

Oh, and is the pic. below this post LT? That's my guess. When will the answer be revealed? Too much suspense!

KimC said...

That's not LT Nicol-good guess tho!

adrian said...

LT? LT who?

gravy said...

What's Lawrence Taylor got to do with all this?