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  1. #1
    Senior Member stayfed's Avatar
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    V02 + Hyperventilating

    I am sure I will get grilled for this question but I am going for it anyways.

    I consider myself to be a "strong" cyclists. I grew up racing BMX and have been riding bikes almost every single day since I was six years old. My legs have been conditioned to pedal. Where I am struggling now is that over the past few years I've adopted riding those big bikes with skinny tires (I think there called road bikes). It's a whole other ball game! My legs are good; there strong. What I am finding now is that it's my respiratory system can't keep up with my legs. I hate to admit this but I smoked in my late teens and early 20's. I am 4 years clean but I am sure I am still working through the consequences of smoking. I constantly find myself out of breath during climbs and hard efforts. To put in perspective I generally ride 100 - 200 miles a week. None of those miles are spent sprinting and doing intervals. I am putting those miles in for my sanity and my love for riding. Yet I find myself wanting to better myself. I don't necessarily want to get faster but I want to improve my V02 threshold so I can push on climbs and maybe dabble in some cyclocross.

    So my question is am my cycling performance aka V02 performance suffering because I don't interval train? And if I say incorporate interval training into my cycling twice a week how long will it take for me to start noticing a change? 3 months, 6 months, or even longer? I am in no hurry but just curious to see how this works.

    Let the grill fest begin.

  2. #2
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    I doubt the smoking can be to blame -- but nice try getting yourself off the hook!

    Also, going from BMX to road bikes is going to change your body's bio-mechanics and, I would think, tend to weaken some of the muscles (from where they were in your BMX days since BMX will rely more on sheer short term muscle power)

    And, it is a subtle distinction but: I would not blame your 'out of breath during climbs' on not doing 'interval training'. Rather I would say that doing intervals is a solution -- but not the only solution.

    Further, you may have to clarify "VO2 performance". If you are talking about VO2 Max, my understanding is that that is difficult to change (but others disagree with me on that point). If you are talking about anaerobic threshold then that is trainable by challenging your existing threshold with things like hills and intervals.

    And, another thought: perhaps you would benefit from some form of cross training that builds on muscle mass?
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    Great job on stopping smoking! It's not easy at all(Been there done that).I tis possible that you still have some residual effects from it. But they will lessen.
    BMX and road riding are very different they rely on different energy systems (Anaerobic BMX Areobic Road) so that could be some of the issue.
    Yes improving your Threshold (Aerobic, anaorobic, OLBA FTP take your pick they are close but different) will make a big difference(though you do have to figure what it is first to improve it and to see if what you're doing is improving it).
    That would be a good start.
    VO2 MAX is a measure of how much O2 you're using at max effort it is highly trainable (intervals of 3-8min long with 1:1 work/rest intervals or if you're experienced you can 1:.5 work/rest intervals but they should be VER HARD).
    Doing these 1-2 x/week will improve your performance when done when well rested if you had a well thought out and planed training program you may see improvements in 4-6 weeks. Again you have to quantify what you're doing and be able to measure your progress. Using HR alone will not do the trick some sort of Lab testing (or controlled enviroment testing will go along way) You can field test but in order to get reliable data you need a power meter.
    Coach TJ Cormier NSCA-CPT/USAC Level1 Coach

  4. #4
    Senior Member stayfed's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies everyone!

    Is interval training the only route of achieving a higher anaerobic threshold? Does climbing increase anaerobic threshold as well? For example if I spent 2 - 3 days a week climbing 3000 - 4500 ft? I'll be moving from Brooklyn to Portland in a couple months so will have access to some great climbs.

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    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stayfed View Post
    Thanks for the replies everyone!

    Is interval training the only route of achieving a higher anaerobic threshold? Does climbing increase anaerobic threshold as well? For example if I spent 2 - 3 days a week climbing 3000 - 4500 ft? I'll be moving from Brooklyn to Portland in a couple months so will have access to some great climbs.
    It's more complicated than that. Intervals will increase your power at threshold. That just means you'll be going slightly faster when you feel uncomfortable. What you want to do is to become comfortable. Or at least at ease with what's going on. Comfort is maybe too strong a word.

    Try this: Next time you're on a long climb or going hard and feeling out of breath, do this: take really deep breaths. When you breath in, fill you lungs from the bottom up. IOW, expand your belly first, then the lower chest, then the upper chest. Then expel all the air at once and repeat. Open your airway with a wide mouth, tongue in the bottom of the mouth and neck stretched. Start doing this when you are riding comfortably to get the feel for it. You'll probably get dizzy from hyperventilating, so not too long. Then you're going hard, start breathing this way. Increase the tempo of breathing as necessary. When you absolutely cannot hold the breathing and start panting, you're getting into anaerobic country. Back off until you can breathe again. Do this on your climbs and when you want to go really fast in the drops. It's all you need to do, really.

    You may find that your diaphragm needs conditioning, too. When you change anything, there will be muscular adaptation. It'll get better and easier with practice. You'll know you've really been going hard when your lungs feel sore.

    If your legs feel easy, yet you're running out of breath, gear up. You'll go faster if you load your legs as much as your lungs. Your legs should burn at the full-deep-breathing pace. Your should be able to maintain this for 20-30 minutes anyway. This is known as threshold training and is what one does when doing intervals. But you don't need to do formal intervals to practice it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stayfed View Post
    It's a whole other ball game! My legs are good; there strong. What I am finding now is that it's my respiratory system can't keep up with my legs. I hate to admit this but I smoked in my late teens and early 20's. I am 4 years clean but I am sure I am still working through the consequences of smoking. I constantly find myself out of breath during climbs and hard efforts.
    That's sort of the definition of a hard effort. The only way to not get out of breath is to ride below your threshold. If you ride above your threshold power for any reasonable length of time you're going to reach your VO2Max and it will become uncomfortable and you'll be out of breath. Raising your VO2Max won't make climbing any more comfortable, you'll just be going faster. If you want to climb more comfortably you could just go slower.

    You mentioned your legs are strong. The other thing you could try is using a higher gear (lower cadence). I think you'll find it will take longer at a given power before you feel out of breath if you use a higher gear. It might be tougher on your knees but you sound young so it might not be an issue. If it is just raise your cadence.

  7. #7
    More Speed = More Work
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    I like Chris Carmichael / Jim Rutberg's training, specifically Training for the Time Crunched Athlete. There are a variety of intervals in the book, and they're specifically designed to increase your performance at all effort levels, including high output. I've been riding a long time, but have seen a positive change in <four weeks.

    Cheers

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by stayfed View Post
    I am sure I will get grilled for this question but I am going for it anyways.

    I consider myself to be a "strong" cyclists. I grew up racing BMX and have been riding bikes almost every single day since I was six years old. My legs have been conditioned to pedal. Where I am struggling now is that over the past few years I've adopted riding those big bikes with skinny tires (I think there called road bikes). It's a whole other ball game! My legs are good; there strong. What I am finding now is that it's my respiratory system can't keep up with my legs. I hate to admit this but I smoked in my late teens and early 20's. I am 4 years clean but I am sure I am still working through the consequences of smoking. I constantly find myself out of breath during climbs and hard efforts. To put in perspective I generally ride 100 - 200 miles a week. None of those miles are spent sprinting and doing intervals. I am putting those miles in for my sanity and my love for riding. Yet I find myself wanting to better myself. I don't necessarily want to get faster but I want to improve my V02 threshold so I can push on climbs and maybe dabble in some cyclocross.

    So my question is am my cycling performance aka V02 performance suffering because I don't interval train? And if I say incorporate interval training into my cycling twice a week how long will it take for me to start noticing a change? 3 months, 6 months, or even longer? I am in no hurry but just curious to see how this works.

    Let the grill fest begin.
    Riding at a level that exceeds your threshold will leave you gasping, irrespective of whether you've smoked or not. It's a function of the 'gases' within your blood and the receptors that sense these gas levels. That said, if you're wheezing and 'rattling' then there may be something else to think about. Everyone that pushes themself on a climb or hard effort gasps (the term we use here in the UK, for such fun is "breathing out of your arse"!).

    You don't have a "VO2 threshold". You have a VO2max (or VO2peak) which is the maximal volume of oxygen that can be taken in and utilised by your body. At VO2max (or VO2peak) people can sustain this effort for ~3 to 8mins or so (and at which point you'd be ready for a sit down rather than being able to continue much, although it is possible to do so if you don't go to destruction). On the other hand you have various aerobic thresholds (e.g., lactate threshold, maximal lactate steady state, critical power, etc) which, while not the same serve as a measure of metabolic fitness (whereas VO2max is a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness). Both these (threshold and VO2max) are important for endurance exercise. It's worth noting (perhaps? if you like this sort of stuff?!) the aerobic thresholds are all measured differently and mean slightly different things. Both the thresholds and VO2max (peak) are trainable, with VO2max setting the upper limit of aerobic performance (i like to think of this as the size of your engine), while your threshold is what you can maximally drive your engine at for ~1hr.

    Outside of an exercise physiology lab, a proxy for your threshold is Functional Threshold Power (FTP^TM) see, What Is Threshold Power? | TrainingPeaks while a proxy for VO2max is Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP), which can be seen here www.cyclingnews.com fitness and training information with a test protocol here Cycle Coaching - RST Sport- Max Aerobic Power Test

    VO2max is about 50% genetically determined and is therefore, quite trainable. The maximal % that you can cycle at of your MAP (i.e., your FTP) is also very trainable - in fact this is more trainable than your VO2max. However, there's an upper limit to which your can maximally exercise, which is about 77% of MAP or expressed in terms of VO2max about 90% of VO2max.

    The next part of your question relates to how intervals affect training. Depending on the 'system' that you're training the results can occur rapidly, or slowly. So, for e.g., there's a positive effect of doing very short high intensity efforts (e.g. 30-secs on/off done maximally) within hours of training with the positive effect on the neuromuscular system. Whereas, if you're looking to improve VO2max (MAP) then hard 3 to 5-min efforts would have a positive effect over weeks to months of training.

    Interval training is a specific way of forcing your body to adapt. Your body can adapt (at least for some things) without doing intervals per se. This could occur because you ride hard efforts uphill in an ad-hoc manner, or because you're able to fatigue your motor units that control your muscles - though this may require you to do lots of heavy volume training (heavy volume being a relative term to you - it'd differ from person to person). Intervals can be short (seconds) to long (many minutes) and doing structured intervals may well help you perform at a higher level. They would increase your power allowing you to ride faster uphill (while gasping) or riding at your current speed while seemingly being in control (because in essence, once you're fitter if you then ride at your 'old' speed you'd be riding at a lower relative level).

    HTH?

    Ric

  9. #9
    Senior Member hermanchauw's Avatar
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    I think simply your breathing technique got to be improved. Everybody whom i coached with this simple breathing pattern can keep their breath in the first session of HIIT/Metcon.

    Soft inhale, long exhale, aka Survival Breath. The longer the exhale the lower your heart rate. Do not try to inhale more or harder. The more you try to, the more "breathless" you get. Refer to Circular Strength Training and Kettlebell Sport.

    Also called "pursed lip breathing" which we are taught to coach to asthma patients or hyperventilation in physiotherapy school.

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