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  1. #1
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    My anaerobic threshold: The Shocking Truth

    After 26 years of running and three years of cycling, I finally took a perfomance diagnostic test with calculation of my anaerobic threshold. I thought I was in shape...

    I am planning a 7-day alp crossing on my road bike this summer (Transalp Challenge 2005) and want to maximize the effectiveness of my limited training time. It turns out I have been training primarily over the threshold and therefore not building up any real endurance. Time to take the oft-repeated and seldom heeded advice: long and slow.

    I already set my pulse monitor limits back by 15 bpm and will try to train religiously below my AT for at least 80% of the time.

    For those of you who were about to ask:
    Reality: AT 4.95 m/l at around 170 watts & 135 bpm
    What I expected: AT at around 225-250 watts and 150 bpm
    Chris in Charleston, SC (formerly Bamberg)

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  2. #2
    Brick Snotshoulders
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    The clinical AT (probably determined by onset of blood lactate? how did they determine it) is different from what bicyclers have been calling their AT for years. What we're used to calling AT we usually determine by timetrialing for some distance or time (often around 30 minutes ala Friel) and using an average HR. This is liable to be above the clinical heart rates.

    Here's a link to a helpful thread on another board. Note that the informative poster is a professional cycle coach. The RST folks post often in that forum, but you've got to wade through a lot of lame polls (not to mention uninformed speculation and magical thinking - the bane of the internet forum) to get to anything really informative.

    You might also want to read through some of the articles and Q/A here. The folks answering questions at cyclingnews are coaches and doctors with an understanding of both physiology and endurance training. I've learned a lot there, including that a lot of what I thought I knew was wrong. Not to mention that biochemistry is complex and not completely understood.

  3. #3
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    Anaerobic threshold and lactate threshold are interchangeable terms.

    If someone took a clinical, diagnostic test to determine lactate threshold, it is CERTAINLY accurate. Just because they don't call it a term you deem appropriate, doesn't mean the results are incorrect.

    Knowing that the kinesiology/physiology field uses those terms interchangeably (and there are at least 10 different terms that all describe the same phenomenon) really help you to understand the significance of the test.

    For the record, there are MANY ways to determine lactate threshold. There is no "ONLY" way to determine lactate threshold. It is not USUALLY determined by timetrialling. If that were the case, performance labs across the country would be out of business. A true test is performed in a lab setting where conditions are rigorously monitored to ensure that environmental and other conditions do not affect the results.

    Bamberg, the good thing is that you now know your results. You should be able to train those numbers to increase your performance. Find a coach and get started. Good luck!

    Koffee

  4. #4
    Brick Snotshoulders
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Anaerobic threshold and lactate threshold are interchangeable terms.

    If someone took a clinical, diagnostic test to determine lactate threshold, it is CERTAINLY accurate. Just because they don't call it a term you deem appropriate, doesn't mean the results are incorrect.
    My point wasn't on the 'appropriateness' of the term, it was that bicyclists often say 'AT' or 'LT' to mean a higher threshold than the clinical definition. Sorry if my statement came across as arrogant - I was trying to point out that lay usage of the term might be misleading him - his earlier thresholds may have been correct (more accurately 'workable for training purposes'), even though they were based not on his true AT heart rate but on a non-clinical measure.

    (edited because I had time and inclination to find the following references)
    If you look at Ric Stern's answer here You'll find the following statement:
    "Generally, within the scientific literature, LT is the workload that elicits a 1 mmol/L increase in lactate over exercise baseline levels (this would give you a lactate of ~ 2.xx mmol/L). The other main definition is a workload that elicits a lactate of 2.5 mmol/L. In both cases, this level of intensity is quite low, and is around 10 to 20 percent less power than that, that can be maintained for ~1-hr TT. In other words, this intensity (LT) can be sustained for up to 3+ hrs."

    Further, Eddie Monier says:
    "I wanted to point out that while Ric and I differ in our opinions as to whether or not there are two (or even three) "widely accepted" definitions for Lactate Threshold among the scientific literature, we both agree that the term as usually used by exercise scientists refers to an intensity which can be sustained several hours."

    This is the basis for my position that the heart rates/power levels that cyclists determine from time trials for the purpose of establishing training zones (ala Friel), tend to be higher than clinical LT heart rates/power levels. The implication is that (assuming the test was to determine LT (the clinical value) and not specifically to determine training zones) he should not change his training zones as a knee-jerk reaction: he should talk to a coach who can help him interpret the results in the context of what he needs to do on the bike.

    Knowing that the kinesiology/physiology field uses those terms interchangeably (and there are at least 10 different terms that all describe the same phenomenon) really help you to understand the significance of the test.

    For the record, there are MANY ways to determine lactate threshold. There is no "ONLY" way to determine lactate threshold. It is not USUALLY determined by timetrialling. If that were the case, performance labs across the country would be out of business. A true test is performed in a lab setting where conditions are rigorously monitored to ensure that environmental and other conditions do not affect the results.
    That was actually my point - that the timetrial that is often used to find a 'threshold' heart rate isn't clinical, and that that 'threshold' heart rate is generally higher than the clinical LT heart rate.

    Bamberg, the good thing is that you now know your results. You should be able to train those numbers to increase your performance. Find a coach and get started. Good luck!

    Koffee
    My purpose in providing links to further information, provided by cycling coaches, was to help him make use of the data he now has. I certainly agree that the best way for him to do that is to find a real coach and stop listening to internet know-it-alls like me!
    Last edited by danch; 12-18-04 at 06:54 PM.

  5. #5
    Brick Snotshoulders
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    There is no "ONLY" way to determine lactate threshold. It is not USUALLY determined by timetrialling.
    Did I say 'ONLY'? And again, it wasn't my intention to say that timetrialing would tell you anything about LT, only that it is used by coaches to establish training zones, and that it is usually higher than LT - hence the statement "What we're used to calling AT we usually determine by timetrialing."
    Last edited by danch; 12-18-04 at 07:02 PM.

  6. #6
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    Koffee and danch,
    Thanks for the advice and words of encouragement. Since there is a lot of debate on the subject of performance testing, I'll add a little data to the discussion. The test was performed as follows:

    Ergometer with constant watt resistances.
    Wattage increased in the following steps:
    90 - 130 - 170 - 210 - 250 - 290

    Four minutes at each wattage, with a 45 second interruption to get my ear pricked. As stated in my original post, I had a blood concentration of 4.95 at around 170 watts and 135 bpm. At 290 watts I only managed 2 minutes and had to quit. That's all I had in me. At that point I was at over 12.

    The calculation algorithm was called the "Freiburg model", for what it's worth. Apparently it is one of many algorithms. One item that probably messed up my results was that I sprinted from work to the club right before my test. It's barely over a mile, and I had no idea that would have any influence. Anyway, my "resting" level was already at 2.9, and should have probably been around 1.5 - 1.8 for the amount of training I do. The curve remained nearly level at around 3.0-3.2 until the 170 watt mark.

    The advice I received with the evaluation consisted of 5 training zones: recovery, basic endurance 1,2,and 3, and intensive training (intervals) beyond the threshold. They recommended a percentage of total training time in each zone, with about 80% being in zones 1-2. This seems like plausible advice and fits with most of the literature I've read. On a positive note, the trainer said that my levels indicate a pretty high tolerance for lactate concentration, which to the best of my interpretation means that if I push a little beyond the threshold on a long climb, I can still maange to recover and complete the ride.

    In any case, since I got the results Friday, I have done 2.5 hours split between the roller (keep it up Koffee!) and jogging, all down in the first two zones. I will concentrate on power intervals and climbing after I kill off the worst of the winter months with basic endurance.

    Merry Christmas. I hope Santa brings y'all new bikes.
    Chris in Charleston, SC (formerly Bamberg)

    - Red Bull Pro SL /Dura Ace/Ksyrium Elite/Flight Deck
    - Hercules Team Alu/Tiagra/Mavic CXP33
    - Hercules Trekking/Deore
    - Koga Miata tandem/LX/Magura Julie hydraulic discs
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  7. #7
    Stegosaurus Crunkologist's Avatar
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    My anaerobic threshold is about 80 tpm (thrusts per minute) sustained. More would be nice. I need to stop smoking when I drink?
    "A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.
    A liberal is a conservative who's been arrested."

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bamberg
    Koffee and danch,
    Thanks for the advice and words of encouragement. Since there is a lot of debate on the subject of performance testing, I'll add a little data to the discussion. The test was performed as follows:

    Ergometer with constant watt resistances.
    Wattage increased in the following steps:
    90 - 130 - 170 - 210 - 250 - 290

    Four minutes at each wattage, with a 45 second interruption to get my ear pricked. As stated in my original post, I had a blood concentration of 4.95 at around 170 watts and 135 bpm. At 290 watts I only managed 2 minutes and had to quit. That's all I had in me. At that point I was at over 12.

    The calculation algorithm was called the "Freiburg model", for what it's worth. Apparently it is one of many algorithms. One item that probably messed up my results was that I sprinted from work to the club right before my test. It's barely over a mile, and I had no idea that would have any influence. Anyway, my "resting" level was already at 2.9, and should have probably been around 1.5 - 1.8 for the amount of training I do. The curve remained nearly level at around 3.0-3.2 until the 170 watt mark.

    The advice I received with the evaluation consisted of 5 training zones: recovery, basic endurance 1,2,and 3, and intensive training (intervals) beyond the threshold. They recommended a percentage of total training time in each zone, with about 80% being in zones 1-2. This seems like plausible advice and fits with most of the literature I've read. On a positive note, the trainer said that my levels indicate a pretty high tolerance for lactate concentration, which to the best of my interpretation means that if I push a little beyond the threshold on a long climb, I can still maange to recover and complete the ride.

    In any case, since I got the results Friday, I have done 2.5 hours split between the roller (keep it up Koffee!) and jogging, all down in the first two zones. I will concentrate on power intervals and climbing after I kill off the worst of the winter months with basic endurance.

    Merry Christmas. I hope Santa brings y'all new bikes.
    Definitely what I was thinking they did to test your lactate threshold and determine your hr training zones. I've had that done before, and I will probably introduce this to the folks I end up training. I think it's the best way to determine intensity and train yourself so that you can be a stronger rider.

    Do you have a computrainer or powertaps or something along those lines to train with at home?

    Koffee

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by koffee brown
    Definitely what I was thinking they did to test your lactate threshold and determine your hr training zones. I've had that done before, and I will probably introduce this to the folks I end up training. I think it's the best way to determine intensity and train yourself so that you can be a stronger rider.

    Do you have a computrainer or powertaps or something along those lines to train with at home?

    Koffee
    Nope. I will be using my pulse monitor to stick to the HR zones in the training recommendation. I know that's less than real accurate and subject to fluctuations due to temperature, time of day, etc., but I hope it's good enough to keep me on track. The main point of the long ride in the Alps this summer is endurance. Since I've done a marathon before (wihtout the beneift of a pulse monitor) I think it will work out.
    Chris in Charleston, SC (formerly Bamberg)

    - Red Bull Pro SL /Dura Ace/Ksyrium Elite/Flight Deck
    - Hercules Team Alu/Tiagra/Mavic CXP33
    - Hercules Trekking/Deore
    - Koga Miata tandem/LX/Magura Julie hydraulic discs
    - 10 folding bike from a campsite at the Baltic Sea coast, one-speed, coaster brake, handlebar and various components from trash piles, new tubes and tires doubles its value to at least 20

  10. #10
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    Well, since you know what your power readings are at the different heart rates, you really don't need a computrainer. It would be nice, but it's not necessary. You'll just need to get tested again to see if you're training is effective. Did they give you a time frame to return for your next set of tests?

    Koffee

  11. #11
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    The trainer said it would be a good idea to come back a few weeks before the Alp tour if for nothing else than to make a final determination of my power output and lactate concentration as a guideline for what pace I should maintain on the long climbs. He said I might get a reduced rate on the second test.
    Chris in Charleston, SC (formerly Bamberg)

    - Red Bull Pro SL /Dura Ace/Ksyrium Elite/Flight Deck
    - Hercules Team Alu/Tiagra/Mavic CXP33
    - Hercules Trekking/Deore
    - Koga Miata tandem/LX/Magura Julie hydraulic discs
    - 10 folding bike from a campsite at the Baltic Sea coast, one-speed, coaster brake, handlebar and various components from trash piles, new tubes and tires doubles its value to at least 20

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