Thursday 26 July 2012

Anaerobic Threshold Myth

Here is some more info on power meters to add to your knowledge on training...

Thanks to Ben Miller for the excellent article on the "Anaerobic Threshold". It brings up some points that have been well know in exercise physiology for several years but we still see these terms bandied around even by exercise physiologists and in sport science journals.

Anaerobic Threshold Myth

With the advent of Power Meters I see a couple of new thresholds being considered. Andy Coggan refers to "Functional Threshold" which is the maximum power one can sustain over a 60min period. He uses this threshold as the basis for the seven levels of training explained in his book "Training and Racing with a Powermeter" and on the Power Meter software "CyclingPeaks".The threshold can be determined from a maximal 60min effort or taking the max one hour power from CyclingPeaks from a race or hard training ride.

The Power 411

The British Cycling Federation go the other extreme and use a ramped test where power is increased every minute and the highest power one can sustain for a minute is called the "Max Min Power". Ric Stern refers to this as "Max Aerobic Power" or MAP. Both Endurance Threshold and MAP could be considered examples of the Critical Power concept where both could be plotted on a graph and used to determine power outputs for other durations.This type of testing is done in the US and Australia over various durations from 5sec to 60min. Some coaches use the data from such testing to plan interval training. Charlie Walsh takes the maximal power for a duration (ie 5min) and plots training accordingly...

Max 5 min Power = 400watts

1st week of training 5min efforts at 336watts (84% of Max)
2nd week of training 5min efforts at 348watts (87% of Max)
3rd week of training 5min efforts at 360watts (90% of Max)
4th week of training 5min efforts at 336watts (unloading week)

All three methods of planning training are useful as they rely on a direct measure of performance as opposed to a measure of intensity (lactate or HR) that could be affected by the weather, stress, fatigue and measurement issues. We can't look at a future goal and say an Olympic Pursuit final will be won at a lactate level of 6.4mmol or the Tour de France in 2010 will be won by the rider who can sustain a HR of 152. We can estimate that to break the Flying 200m WR that it will take a peak power of over 2000watts and ave power of 800watts and plan our training accordingly. Having used a power meter for 5 months now and being able to track my own performance from 5sec to 4hours I can be very precise with the level of overload and very specific with the type of training to prepare my body for the challenges of racing.

Apart from curiosity I wonder if I will ever need to do another Anaerobic Threshold test.


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