June 19, 2015

Lactate Threshold Testing

Lactate Threshold Testing

Strangely, many of you have been asking me how to ride faster lately, so today I am going to tempt you with a little ‘treat’ that might just give you the edge over the skinny guy in your club (because after last week I am sure every one of you has joined a cycle club!)

Firstly though, pay attention, here comes the science bit…….

Being able to ride faster might mean different things to different people; If you’re a time triallist then being able to ride faster for say 20 to 60 minutes equates to improving your 10 and 25 mile times.  If you love your sportives and my recent newletters haven’t lured you over to the ‘dark side’ of racing then it might just get you over those climbs quick enough to go from a Silver to a Bronze time (but it’s not a race remember).  If you’re a road racer it means that sitting in the pack will expend less energy for when you really need it.

“All very well Paul but tell me how to ride faster”

Well you need to increase your power at your functional threshold.

There you go.  Not a lot of use without a bit of explaining though so read on…

When you try to ride faster than you’re happy doing you get out of breath and therefore begin to go from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state i.e. you’re no longer breathing in oxygen as quickly as you’re using it.  When this happens your breathing becomes laboured, then deeper and you start feeling a burning in your legs as they become heavier.

When this happens the levels of lactate in your body have increased, your heart rate has increased and you wouldn’t be able to go for many more minutes until having to ease up a bit.  It’s at that point that Bradly bloody Wiggins and his mates cruise past chatting!!!  How are they doing that whilst you’re gasping for breath?  Well, they have trained their bodies, over many years, so that they don’t run out of oxygen as quickly as you.

“Ok Paul I’m getting a teeny weeny bit impatient now, how do I do this?!”

This ‘tipping point’ is often known as your Lactate Threshold and Coaches like me perform tests on their clients to help them calculate this threshold.  In a nutshell we help our clients to know what their heart rate or power is when they reach their lactate threshold.  From here we can help riders to determine accurate and very specific training zones and coach them according to their goals.  With regular work and tweaking things here and there we can improve their power and therefore their speed.


The techniques we use are accurate enough for even the professionals but the ‘gold standard’ test is performed by taking blood samples and measuring the levels of lactate in your blood at different heart rates/power levels.

This is an interesting thing to do and I have a great relationship with a Sports Scientist who can carry out this test amongst other tortures (she’s German) on you for a fee.

Except today.

The lab in question are looking for nutcases I mean volunteers to do some research on.  Part of the testing involves having a full analysis of your lactate profile and recommendations for how this can be used in training.  Normally this costs £190 but if we get you in there quick then it will be FREE.

So, a few more things…you need to be 18-45 years old (so pass this email on Grandad) and you can be male or female or both.

If it’s the same as the test I did they take numerous blood samples from your finger so please be aware:

  1. You will feel a prick, and
  2. You’ll need to put your guitar playing on hold for a week

If you can’t stand the site of blood, have no fingers, don’t want to go back to the people in white coats but you quite like the idea of testing for your training zones then get in touch and we’ll work something out ourselves.

Cycle Training
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