physiology

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What is Aerobic Decoupling?

As a cyclist finishes their base training, it's important to evaluate how strong your aerobic base truly is.  By using a metric called “aerobic decoupling” you can quickly and easily determine if your base work was effective and if you're ready to progress into harder high-intensity interval training.  But before you can evaluate your aerobic fitness, you need to learn what aerobic decoupling is and how to use it effectively.

What is aerobic decoupling and why do we care about it?

If you're training with power, aerobic decoupling is a key measurement to evaluate as you perform base training.  Aerobic decoupling is a numerical measurement of aerobic efficiency and endurance.  It's representative of your body's ability to process oxygen and produce energy (as detailed in Biohacking Energy Systems) and is a marker of overall aerobic fitness.

Before you can appreciate the value of aerobic decoupling, here's a refresher about how your body produces aerobic energy and the concept of heart rate drift.

To produce energy, your body takes in oxygen through the lungs and passes it to working muscles via the blood stream.  Oxygen and a fuel (fat, protein or sugars) are processed in the mitochondria to create Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP).  ATP is the actual energy molecule that allows your muscles to contract and create pedaling force.  Constant demands on the aerobic energy system can create a phenomenon known as heart rate drift.

Click through the jump to read the show notes for episode 78 of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast:

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Two Keys To Building Functional Threshold Power

Building functional threshold power is one of the biggest objectives of most competitive cyclists.  Cyclists everywhere like to brag about how many watts they put out at threshold.  Coffee shop talk is dominated by phrases like “watts per kilogram” and “threshold intervals” in the pursuit of more cycling power.  Interval training programs are based on the concept of how much power you can put out at threshold.

I'm telling you that functional threshold power is indeed one of the biggest goalposts we measure fitness by.  The way we've consistently tried to train it has evolved over the years, but the basic concept remains the same: increase aerobic power at and under your threshold.  There are a few ways to improve your functional threshold power without having to spend hours, days or weeks doing 20 minute threshold efforts.

Quite simply, if you want your functional threshold power to grow, you can either train longer, train smarter or train harder.  Click through the jump to listen to my latest podcast.  You'll learn two keys that will help you train smarter, giving you a jump on building functional threshold power in the base phase.
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VO2 Max Workouts

Most training plans put an emphasis on higher intensity training as the season progresses.  After building a solid functional base of fitness, you need to challenge your body in different ways to stimulate adaptations.  These two VO2 max workouts aim to challenge your body well beyond your comfort zone in less than an hour each, leading to big adaptations and big changes in your fitness and speed on the bike.

Why VO2 Max Workouts?

As I discussed in podcast 66, raising the ceiling on your fitness is important to ensure continued growth and improvement in your cycling fitness. VO2 max workouts are the perfect way to push your body beyond its comfort zone and force it to adapt and improve.  Here's an analogy for you: if you put a plan in a room with a 3-foot ceiling, once it grows into the ceiling it begins to spread out to the sides.  It never gets taller.  If you raise the ceiling to 10 feet, the plant has a lot more room to grow before it begins to spread out.

Your fitness is like that plant: if you never raise the ceiling, you'll never be able to grow.  That's why these VO2 max workouts are so effective at improving your body's ability to perform and raising your fitness level: they force you to train where it hurts and push your limits.  Many cyclists don't like to push beyond their limits or train “where it hurts” so they leave those big breakthrough fitness gains out on the road.  By using the two VO2 max workouts included at the end of this article, you'll realize bigger fitness gains and more performance in under an hour per workout.

Click through the jump for two free VO2 max workouts, an explanation of why they work so well and a downloadable cheat sheet to follow when you're on the trainer!

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Why Cyclists Don’t Need Traditional Base Training

During the winter months, many cyclists take on a steady diet of traditional base training: long, slow zone 2 or “aerobic” training rides.  For years, this has been the gospel for cyclists of all types, from the pros down to the greenest cat 5 racers, from endurance riders to crit racers to gran fondo riders.  The question is, with all the science coming out touting the benefits of high-intensity interval training, are those long base miles the key to season-long success or are they doing more harm than good?

In today's podcast, I'll explore the concept of traditional base training, how it's supposed to be done, who needs that traditional base training and who doesn't need it.  I'll also give you a way to compromise on your traditional base training which can help you maintain your high-end fitness throughout your base period and leave you stronger and fresher during the season.

Click through for the show notes and remember that the sponsor for this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast is Stages Cycling.  Check out their power meters and help support the show!

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High Intensity Interval Training Part 2 – Programming Workouts

Last time on the Tailwind Coaching Podcast, I talked about the science behind high intensity interval training.  In the end of that podcast, I said that I'd be back to talk about how to program high intensity interval training into your schedule and avoid some of the pitfalls that typically plague the HIT protocol.  I also said I'd give you a few different kinds of workouts to try adding to your training sessions.  You'll find those at the end of these show notes; all you have to do is share this podcast with your friends or get yourself signed on to the Tailwind Coaching Newsletter to download them.

So listen to the podcast, check out the show notes below, share with your friends and learn how to put more HIT into your riding!

As a reminder, the sponsor for this episode of the Tailwind Coaching Podcast is Stages Cycling.  Check out their power meters and help support the show!

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