What exactly is “biohacking” and how can biohacking cycling performance give you an edge on your riding and racing buddies? That's the question you'll likely be asking yourself even before you got to this sentence. Allow me to offer a definition coined by Dave Asprey, The Bulletproof Executive, a well known and highly influential biohacker and health hacker:
(v) To use systems thinking, science, biology, and self-experimentation to take control of and upgrade your body, your mind, and your life.
(n) The art and science of becoming superhuman.
While that sounds incredibly difficult and involved, it's really pretty simple. Let's think about this for a second: how many times have you asked yourself or someone else “What do you eat during your rides/races/fondos?” Have you ever questioned: “I wonder how I'd do with this gel/drink mix/diet?” Have you ever said: “I should try that recovery/nutrition idea and see if it makes me feel better or ride stronger?” Have you ever wanted to use the same training plans the pros do, just so you can “ride like Fabian” or be one of those “machines” that is spoken of in hushed tones at the coffee shop?
If you try some of those things, you're performing a scientific, biological self-experiment in order to upgrade your body, (and in order to tie in the second definition) in a quest to become superhuman on the bike. Congratulations, you're biohacking cycling performance.
These articles are designed to help you get the most out of biohacking cycling performance. Below you'll find a selection of posts ranging from nutrition to training tips, all with a highly scientific tone and a lot of in-depth information on how you can take your training to the next level.
Have you ever heard that your body doesn't get stronger through training? It's an odd thing to think about, but it's inherently true. Training is the overloading stimulus that (hopefully) pushes your body beyond it's comfort zone. Once you've pushed beyond the constraints of your fitness you need to allow the body to repair the damage that has been done to it and build it stronger for the next challenge. But the recovery phase is something that many cyclists completely ignore, opting instead to sit on the sofa or worse, go for a recovery ride that turns into a workout.
In today's 50th episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, I'll detail some of the do's and don'ts of recovery, including:
Getting fat. That's the last thing anyone wants to hear over the off season, especially during the holidays. The simple fact is that the holidays are notorious for being able to pack the pounds onto a cyclist. There are parties aplenty, goodies in the office (usually in the form of high-calorie desserts), feasts with family and the ever-present alcoholic beverage, just begging for you to imbibe.
It's easy to overdo it during the off season and find yourself in a hole come January. But there is a way to start melting off those excess inches that doesn't involve giving up tasty meals of spending hours per day on the trainer. And that simple way involves putting a little more fat in your gullet.
You heard me right. If you understand the physiology of how our body processes the fuel it is given, you'll be able to make some smart dietary choices. And if you stick with some of those changes for the long term, you'll realize some performance benefits as well.
In this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, I'll get into some of the science behind nutrition and exercise adaptation. You'll find the following information discussed in this episode:
In part 1 of “Strength Training For Cyclists” I talked about how your body adapts to different kinds of exercise. We learned about the concept of different pathways that create physiological adaptation and a touched on a couple of ways these pathways interact with one another, turning you into a sharp physical specimen where there used to be couch potato.
But there was a problem: I covered all these concepts about how your body uses some common physiological mechanisms to build fitness in different muscle types, that's true. But the one thing not talked about was how to put all that sciency stuff together. I'll tackle that in detail in today's podcast, so click through the break and check out the show notes.
Lactic acid. The burn. The chemical that Phil and Paul always talk about “filling up the legs” and “making the legs scream in agony.” It gets a bad rap, one that it perhaps doesn't deserve. Little do most athletes know, it can not only be a key way to enhance your performance, but it may very well be required by the body to fuel your brain and contribute to various chemical reactions within the body. Biohacking lactic acid will help you improve your cycling performance.
How can this improve your cycling performance?
Easy. For simplicity's sake (as an overview) here's the gist of it: The more time you spend creating lactic acid, the more your body will be forced to deal with. That causes a cascade of metabolic changes in the body. But how does dealing with lactic acid get you further? How does your body do it? How can we use those lactic acid idiosyncrasies to be faster cyclists?
We'll look at a couple of ways to hack lactic acid after the jump, and after we understand how it's produced and cleared.
Click through the jump to see how it works (warning, sciencey, geeky stuff ahead):
I've got to say, there are some really smart listeners out there. Boy did you guys respond to my last podcast (Q&A number 2), especially regarding the last segment on fueling for a century. Specifically, I referenced a study that found a 2% improvement in cycling performance/power output following glycogen depleted training. A couple of you rightly questioned my analysis of that study. Rather than write a lengthy post on the topic, I've decided to create an addendum podcast (originally designed to be the first segment of my next podcast, but after realizing the length, I decided to make it a stand along podcast) in order to address the issue.
Below I've included the study I reference in the podcast:
Our results demonstrate that AMPK-α1 and AMPK-α2 activity and fuel selection in skeletal muscle in response to exercise can be manipulated by diet and/or the interactive effects of diet and exercise training.
This essentially relates that we can sort of “eat ourself into fitness.” Cool, huh?
SHORT-TERM (<1 WK) MANIPULATION of dietary macronutrient intake is associated with marked changes in skeletal muscle gene expression (1, 5, 24), substrate stores (36), metabolic flux, and fuel oxidation (10, 22, 23). Exercise training also results in striking modifications in muscle gene expression (14), energy reserves, and the relative contribution of fuels to the energetic demands of muscle (9). Accordingly, the extent to which acutely altering substrate availability might modify the training impulse has been a key research area among exercise physiologists and sport nutritionists for several decades (for review, see Ref. 19). Indeed, evidence is accumulating that nutrient manipulation can serve as a potent modulator of many of the acute responses to both endurance (15) and resistance exercise (7, 11).
So basically, if you eat well and train intelligently, you can turn yourself into a monster. However, it also shows that if you eat poorly (I.E. a carbohydrate laden diet that promotes free radical production and inflammation) you can probably do more to hinder your performance than help it.
As always, if you enjoy what you hear, head over to the Tailwind Coaching Podcast on iTunes and rate it 5 stars. Don't forget to post any questions to the Tailwind Coaching Facebook page, and don't forget to support our sponsors and help to keep this podcast free.
With the summer here, it's time to get serious about your summer fitness! Check out my modular training plans in my online store and get started on the path towards killer criterium fitness today. And don't forget to save 10% with the coupon code in this week's podcast.