What is the best way to improve your power and performance on the bike?
Is it Sweet Spot training? High volumes of long slow distance? Perhaps polarised training?
The only correct answer is, it depends. But YOU will find out just what is the best solution for you, when you discover the building blocks of YOUR power, and how it is completely determined by two fundamental physiological variables.
No more guessing. Find out with confidence how you should be training to improve power and achieve your goals.
Performance is not random. It can be broken down into a very small number of fundamental components. In cycling, we really don't need to worry about much more than aerobic capacity (VO2max), glycolytic capacity (VLaMax), and aerodynamics.
We don't even need to care about Functional Threshold Power (FTP, or the anaerobic threshold), as this is determined to 98% by the combination of VO2max and VLaMax.
If performance is so predictable, and we know how changing VO2max and VLaMax will impact your FTP and your race performance, then why is it that 99% of triathletes train without knowing WHY we do the training that we're doing? It's because we don't understand our own physiology and metabolic profile.
With the INSCYD Critical Power testing service that you can do anywhere in the world, using only your power meter, you will learn get accurate information about your own physiology. And when you know what your VO2max, VLaMax, Anaerobic Threshold, Fat and Carb oxidation rates are, suddenly your training will no longer be a bunch of guesswork (you might call it educated guesswork, but it's still guesswork).
Not only CAN you do this testing anywhere in the world, but you literally CANNOT do this testing in almost any laboratory. Typically these labs will only test your VO2max and your threshold, but you will not get to know your VLaMax. And since VLaMax is elite coaches' secret weapon to performance, you should never do another lab test unless they too can provide you with this crucial metric.
Once you have completed the testing and received your results, you will KNOW for a fact which "knob to turn" - should you train your VO2max, your VLaMax, try to get your threshold to a higher percentage of VO2max, or should you practise your ability to oxidise fat?
We also have certain "training recipes" that you can use for each of the scenarios that you might encounter when you learn what your profile is.
Imagine the confidence it will give you knowing that you're doing training that is RIGHT for you!
Take a look at the following infographics to learn how this testing will help you in practice:
The INSCYD analysis provides a highly actionable and fascinating insight into a athlete's metabolism that results in laser focused training.
At worst it is a secret weapon, and at best it will result in a quantum leap in your performance since the resulting training plan is not only tailored to your goals but to your individual metabolism.
Christian Dembowsski, 46, Germany
With an INSCYD critical power test you can obtain a full metabolic and performance profile. The test result is a multi-dimensional model that includes all the relevant physiological components of performance. Your capacity to perform in any race and the way you should train to improve on that performance can be boiled down into the following metrics that you will obtain.
From a 400m run to an IRONMAN triathlon, the aerobic capacity - or VO2max - is the single most important performance metric.
Measuring VO2max isn't something new. But with INSCYD testing you can now see how VO2max interacts with race and training performances:
Along with your test results, you will get information and content on different ways to improve VO2max, so that if this is your limiter, you know what training you should do to address it.
There are two sides of VLamax (glycolytic capacity).
This means even for an Olympic distance race, you want a low VLaMax to maximise your performance. Knowing your VLaMax will be a game-changer in your training program:
Along with your test results, you will get information and content on different ways to alter (decrease or increase) VLaMax, so that whichever way you need to take it, you know what training you should do to do so.
INSCYD detects your anaerobic threshold as per the scientific definition: the maximum intensity at which lactate combustion matches lactate production.
But knowing your threshold power simply isn't good enough! Only if you understand WHY it is what it is can you effectively change it.
Along with your test results, you will get information and content on how best to tackle anaerobic threshold improvements in various scenarios, as described above.
Increasing fat oxidation and thereby sparing precious and limited glycogen is a very important part of endurance events. Especially so when we talk about half and full Ironman racing.
But fat and carb combustion is highly individual - there is no certain "percent of FTP" at which your maximum fat oxidation occurs, and how much carbs you use at e.g. your goal race intensity is natually also very much individual to you.
Use INSCYD's accurate and validated fat and carb combustion reports to:
Along with your test results, you will get information and content on different ways to use the knowledge of your fat and carb combustion rates to tailor race nutrition plans as well as to improve fat oxidation with training.
If your racing scene is high-level draft-legal triathlon or cycling disciplines with large variations in intensity (road racing, cyclocross, crit racing) then your ability to use lactate as fuel and to shuttle it is critical in your performance puzzle.
These abilities are highly trainable, and INSCYD testing allows you to monitor your progress and improvements in your production and combustion of lactate.
Along with your test results, you will get information and content on how to use knowledge of your individual lactate production and combustion rates to inform race tactics and to optimise interval training.
It's about time we move on from thinking that everybody can be training various energy systems using the SAME generic percentages of FTP. The truth is, while you maybe should be doing VO2max intervals at 130% of FTP, your body might only do them at 110% of FTP, and 130% would kill him or worse, make him slower...
Your results will contain training zones completely individual to you and your physiology. Whether you want to go out and do VO2max intervals or a FatMax ride, you will have an accurate power target for you to hit your training objective.
Along with your test results, you will get information and content on how to use your individual training zones to the best effect.
Your purchase includes a complete written plus illustrated documentation, as well as 9 video lessons with all the information and practical examples you need to apply your test results in training and racing.
This information pack is included as part of all pricing tiers.
Both the written documentation and the 9 video lessons cover the following topics:
After you order the test, you will receive all the information required about exactly how to perform the tests. Note that you can do the tests whenever you want, wherever you want. Most athletes do all the tests required within one single 90-120 minute ride.
You will be doing a 15-second sprint test, a 4-minute overpaced Time Trial (meaning you go out "too hard" and then hang on for dear life) and a 20-minute overpaced Time Trial. All separated by adequate recovery.
You send in the workout file, and leave the rest to us for analysing your files, selecting the right inputs, and then letting the software get to work and crunch the numbers.
You will be sent a full report with all the metrics mentioned above, and a few key charts that will help you apply the information in practice. For example, as training interventions or race fuelling plans.
Importantly, you will also get training zones that apply to you as an individual. Let others train on fixed, generic percentages of FTP while you train according you your own physiology and metabolism. You'll laugh all the way to the finish line!
You'll also get access to plenty of content and information designed specifically so you can understand your test results and most importantly, apply it in practice in training and racing!
Imagine two triathletes or cyclists, both weighing 75 kg. Both have a Functional Threshold Power (FTP) of 250W.
Rider A has a VO2max (Aerobic Capacity) of 50 ml/min/kg.
Rider B has a VO2max of 63!? How is this possible
Rider A has a VLaMax (Glycolytic Capacity) of 0.3 mmol/l/s.
Rider B has a VLaMax of 0.9.
A higher VLaMax means a lower FTP! And FTP is to 98% determined purely by VO2max and VLaMax.
For Rider A to improve their FTP, they need to improve their VO2max.
For Rider B to improve their FTP, they need to lower their VLaMax.
Two riders with the same FTP.
But two completely different training solutions to improve performance.
Unless you know your physiology and your metabolic profile in detail like this, any training that you do is like walking blind-folded in a dark room. You may find your way out or you may not.
To remove the blindfold and turn on the lights, it's time to do some physiological performance testing and metabolic profiling. And you can do that without a lab - just you, you bike, your power meter, on the road or on your indoor trainer.
As mentioned elsewhere on this page, performance is not random. And the training that works GREAT for one athlete, might be horrible for another athlete if they have different metabolic profiles.
For example, an athlete training for long-course non-draft triathlon that has a high VLaMax will need to lower it to improve their FTP and fat oxidation, and therefore performance in these longer races.
If this athlete tries to follow a very polarised training plan, with a large amount of low-intensity training and a few high-intensity interval sessions chances are that in those interval sessions, the athlete will go too hard and trigger a glycolytic stimulus that will keep their VLaMax high or even increase it.
What this athlete should be doing instead is to train in a much less polarised manner, do more sweet spot and tempo work, ideally with low-cadence efforts, and perhaps even complement this with some fasted rides in their FatMax-zone.
Now THAT is how they will lower VLaMax, and therefore improve FTP and performance in long-distance triathlon.
Your metabolic profile may be different, but no matter what it is, you will always be able to fine-tune your training to whatever your individual case may be.
Yes! Have you considered that perhaps the reason you are not fast is that the training you have been doing is not well-suited for your physiology and metabolic profile?
Perhaps your profile is more of a low VO2max AND low VLaMax. The key for you then if triathlon, especially non-drafting, is your goal, is to increase your VO2max. If your training has been very oriented towards Sweet Spot and tempo or other "mid-zone" intensities, then it is no wonder you're at a plateau.
Your loading on with training stimulus designed to lower VLaMax, when it's already as low as it needs to be, and probably can be. What you need to be doing, is to work on VO2max, which you can do in a number of ways, including increasing training volume (primarily at low intensity), incorporating high-intensity intervals (e.g. VO2max intervals), a combination of the two, or a number of other potential solutions.
The point is - professional or back-of-the-packer, we all have our individual physiology, and for any of us to improve, we will ALWAYS benefit from planning our training with the lights on rather than blind-folded in that dark room we can't find our way out from.
INSCYD is build bottom up from more than 150 scientific studies and on more than 30 years of sport science history and development. As an example, scientific validation of INSCYD's calculations for the anaerobic threshold shows an average tolerance of 2.5% - better than with any other validated method.
For VO2max, the best metabolic carts, as used in high quality, human performance labs, encounter a typical error of 2%. INSCYD can match that, even with a poorly calibrated power meter.
To summarise, INSCYD's algorithms are extremely robust, and the main source of inaccuracy comes from equipment, such as a poorly calibrated power meter. Make sure that your power meter works well, has fresh batteries, and is calibrated, and the INSCYD test is as accurate or better than even the best laboratories.
VO2max-test with high-end metabolic cart: Around 2% in the best performance laboratories. But error increases with cheaper metabolic carts.
Lactate test to determine FTP: 5-10%
Field test (e.g. 20-minute test) for FTP: 5-20%
The results you get are specific to your bike and bike fit, your power meter, and your training environment (your own indoor trainer or the road, wherever you choose to test). You can also choose to test either in the aerobars (recommended, if that's how you do most of your training) or sitting up, depending on your needs.
If the laboratory uses an ergometer then not only is the equipment and powe meter different to how you'll train, but you will also have a different bike fit which will change how much power you can produce. In particular, if you have to do the test sitting up, the results you'll see will be significantly different from the numbers you should be training to in the aerobars.
90-120 minutes, done as a normal training session.
Depends, but since high-end performance laboratories are few and far between, if you want accurate results you likely have to factor in some travelling.
Measured. Without this critical piece of information, you're planning your training blindfolded.
Starting from 150€, see below.
Depends. 200€ is typical in a lab with good and accurate equipment.
Yes you can. You don't need to be anywhere in particular, and you don't need anyone or anything other than your power meter. I recommend you do the test on the road if you do the majority of your training outdoors (and you have a good stretch of road to test at) and the indoor trainer if the majority of your training is done indoors.
The 15-second sprint test should be do sitting up, but you must remain seated.
For the 4- and 20-minute tests, you should select the test parameters according to how you do the majority of your training. If the majority of your training is indoors and in the aerobars, then test like that. If the majority is outdoors, and sitting up, then test like that.
No. You need a power meter, or alternatively, a very accurate indoor trainer that is still accurate during very short sprint efforts, like a 15-second sprint. The high-end indoor trainers on the market may pass this test, but most low- to mid-range trainers will not.
If you have a basic understanding of exercise physiology and metabolism and are ready to do a little work on your own to understand your results, this is an affordable option for you.
If you want to be sure that you make the correct training decisions from your results, but think you'll be fine with some follow-up questions over email, this is the best option for you (most athletes fall in this category)
If you want to get those last few percentage points of performance (marginal gains), then a one-to-one consultation with coach Mikael allows you to apply your results to improve performance to even greater effect.
Do you have any questions about the service or want to know if it is right for you? Contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to help you out.
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