September 12, 2012

Fitness Testing – The Lactate Threshold Test

So the heatwave is over (yes that was it!) and winter is upon us!  Ok ok we want a lifelong summer too but we’re just saying, it’s a bit nippy in the mornings and we’re thinking (only thinking) about our winter training schedule that’s just around the corner!

During September/October it’s worth testing yourself to see if you’re fitter than you were at the beginning of the season and also so that you can see if you come out of the winter better or worse than you went in (No not because of all the parties).

If you are a relative novice or you’re really not into gadgets and gizmos like speedometers, heart rate monitors and power meters then simply ride a course as hard as you can and note the time you took.  Use this course to compare your times (and therefore your fitness) and different times of year.  Bear in mind that your results will depend on the temperature, the wind, your tyre pressure and a whole host of other factors such as traffic but still it’s a simple guide.  Choose a course that takes between 30 and 60 minutes to complete.

Just to keep you out of hospital and us out of the courtroom, always consult your doctor before testing yourself as you will have to work as hard as possible – still keen?!

For anyone who has serious ambition we need our measuring to be more accurate.  We need a lactate threshold test.

Your lactate threshold is the point when your body starts going from aerobic to anaerobic to the point where that burning in your legs becomes so great that you don’t have many more minutes of cycling left in you – you know the feeling.  It is the point where you accumulate acid in the muscles quicker than your body is able to get rid of it – that explains the pain then!

You can go to a lab and on a stationary bike they will increase the resistance every minute and take blood samples (normally via a pin prick in the thumb) to see the acid levels in your blood but this is a bit pricey so here’s how to do it yourself:

In layman’s terms, you are going to ride as hard as you can on a turbo trainer (or a flat/slightly uphill piece of road if you don’t own one) for 30 minutes and record the average heart rate and power (if you can) for the final 20 minutes.  You’ll see that you need at least a heart rate monitor that shows average heart rate for a trip.  Make sure you didn’t ride L’Etape the day before too!

Incidentally, Turbo Trainers have been called “the best kept secret in training” so we’ll be reviewing some soon.  Everyone who we know or have trained who has used one properly has seen fantastic results.  You feel a bit of a wally freewheeling on a turbo trainer!

Now, what do you do with those results.  We’ll first of all nothing as the first time you test yourself you’ll no doubt struggle to pace your effort so it’d worth doing it a second time (give it at least a few days to recover).  Now you have a benchmark to compare with in the future and to set some training plans.

One person who can put it a lot better than us is Joe Friel.  If you only have a heart rate monitor then we like referring to his book “The Cyclist’s Training Bible”.  If you have a power meter (once again we thoroughly recommend you hold fire on shaving 50 grams off your saddle and start saving for one!) then his new book is right up your street “The Power Meter Handbook” is out on 20th September.

Use these books for more details on these tests and how to set great training plans with the results – in fact these tests are great workouts on their own – try one and if you don’t hate us you weren’t trying hard enough!!

 

Cycle Tests And Cycle Training Plans , Cycle Training
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