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Found 14 results

  1. The team now consists of well-known cyclists Nico Pfitzenmaier, Samantha Sanders, and Amy McDougall, with Dr Posthumus adding a vital training and sport physiology component as dormakaba further boosts its investment in the sport. “As a professional coach and sports scientist, Mike brings with him a wealth of experience and insights into elements like training periodisation and other critical training principles that will be invaluable to our team. However, Mike is also a semi-pro mountain biker and will also represent us in the senior men’s category,” says Shaun Frayne, MD of dormakaba South Africa. Even though Dr Posthumus currently coaches some of the top riders in the country and a keen mountain biker, he is a family man who is married with two children. His appointment to team dormakaba highlights how cycling is more than just a pure physical pursuit but entails a great deal of preparation, psychology, and other elements. “Training for a cycling event requires dedication, with consideration for ensuring adequate recovery between training sessions. Mike will be offering this help to not only our pro riders, but to everyone following the dormakaba channels, or chatting with Mike at events. He is someone that any amateur cyclist can identify with as he has a demanding job, family responsibilities, and still tries to get around to training and competing in events.” In many respects, Dr Posthumus illustrates the cycling lifestyle that many ordinary men and women try to embrace. Even though he will compete under the team name, he is not targeting victories but will continue to demonstrate that any person with the right dedication can achieve great things if they put their mind to it. “This is the start of what will be an incredible partnership and we are excited by some of the ideas and principles Mike will bring with him to team dormakaba,” concludes Frayne.
  2. The topics covered in Episode Three:What are the benefits and drawbacks of combining starvation with high-intensity interval training (HIIT)? (at 30 seconds) What's the best training advice someone has ever given you? (at 7 minutes 44 seconds) How should one consume energy drinks and gels in long events? (at 8 minutes 20 seconds) How important is the role of genetics in an athlete's VO2 max? (at 15 minutes 13 seconds) Beating the afternoon slump. Early morning training vs evening training? (at 28 minutes 48 seconds) Previous podcast by the Science2Sport team for Bike Hub: Episode 2: Listen here Is there a desired training stress score (TTS) that you should be looking for? With the correct pedals stroke, will there still be dead spots? How important is base training? Are there more efficient options? For someone with limited training time, is it more beneficial to focus on cycling for fitness or is cross-training worthwhile? I want to start training more seriously, should I buy a power meter for my average aluminium road bike or should I rather use the money towards a good carbon race bike? Episode 1: Listen here Demystifying a rumour that Steve Bowman wheelied from Hout Bay to Camps Bay At what intensity point does your body utilize fat to a greater extent than carbohydrates and protein? What causes cramps and what is the best way to prevent it or relieve it when it happens? I am moving from the half marathon distance to the full marathon distance next year. How should my training change for the increased distance? Is there a way to get better at riding in high temperatures? Would riding with a dropper seat post be beneficial within South African marathon races? Submit your questions: Here's your chance to ask any cycling training, racing or nutrition related questions you have. Please submit your questions via the form below or leave a comment.
  3. In our new podcast series Q&A with the Coaches, you can ask the experts from Science2Sport your cycling training and racing related questions. The team at Science2Sport, which includes leading sports scientists, Dr Jeroen Swart, Dr Mike Posthumus, John Wakefield, and Benoit Capostagno, will be addressing the answers to your cycling related queries, along with local mountain bike pioneer Steve Bowman adding his insight. The Q&A with the Coaches podcast series is available on SoundCloud and iTunes. Click here to view the article
  4. The topics covered in Episode Two:Is there a desired training stress score (TTS) that you should be looking for? (at 36 seconds) With the correct pedals stroke, will there still be dead spots? (at 9 minutes 40 seconds) How important is base training? Are there more efficient options? (at 21 minutes 18 seconds) For someone with limited training time, is it more beneficial to focus on cycling for fitness or is cross-training worthwhile? (at 28 minutes 28 seconds) I want to start training more seriously, should I buy a power meter for my average aluminium road bike or should I rather use the money towards a good carbon race bike? (at 34 minutes 37 seconds) Previous articles by the Science2Sport team for Bike Hub: The science of cross country mountain bike: What does it take to succeed in XCO? by Dr Jeroen Swart and Ben Capostagno. Who needs a coach anyway? by John Wakefield and Dr Mike Posthumus. A scientific guide to race day nutrition by Dr Jeroen Swart and Ben Capostagno. Ensuring training progression with power by Dr Mike Posthumus and John Wakefield. Training with a power meter: the ins and outs by Ben Capostagno and Dr Jeroen Swart. Submit your questions: Here's your chance to ask any cycling training, racing or nutrition related questions you have. Please submit your questions via the form below or leave a comment.
  5. In our new podcast series Q&A with the Coaches, you can ask the experts from Science2Sport your cycling training and racing related questions. The team at Science2Sport, which includes leading sports scientists, Dr Jeroen Swart, Dr Mike Posthumus, John Wakefield, and Benoit Capostagno, will be addressing the answers to your cycling related queries, along with local mountain bike pioneer Steve Bowman adding his insight. The Q&A with the Coaches podcast series is available on SoundCloud and iTunes. Click here to view the article
  6. The topics covered in Episode One:Demystifying a rumour that Steve Bowman wheelied from Hout Bay to Camps Bay (at 1 minute 40 seconds) At what intensity point does your body utilize fat to a greater extent than carbohydrates and protein? (at 2 minutes 40 second) What causes cramps and what is the best way to prevent it or relieve it when it happens? (at 11 minutes 42 seconds) I am moving from the half marathon distance to the full marathon distance next year. How should my training change for the increased distance? (at 22 minutes 15 seconds) Is there a way to get better at riding in high temperatures? (35 minutes 35 seconds) Would riding with a dropper seat post be beneficial within South African marathon races? (at 46 minutes 44 seconds) Previous articles by the Science2Sport team for Bike Hub: Who needs a coach anyway? by John Wakefield and Dr Mike Posthumus.A scientific guide to race day nutrition by Dr Jeroen Swart and Ben Capostagno. Ensuring training progression with power by Dr Mike Posthumus and John Wakefield. Training with a power meter: the ins and outs by Ben Capostagno and Dr Jeroen Swart. Submit your questions: Here's your chance to ask any cycling training, racing or nutrition related questions you have. Please submit your questions via the form below or leave a comment.
  7. Cross-country mountain biking or XCO (the acronym given to the Olympic discipline) has increased in popularity in South Africa and globally over the past few years. So much so, that famed South African artist, Jack Parow, even wrote a song about it, Eksie Ou. Poor attempts at humour aside, the growth of this particular cycling discipline can largely be attributed to its inclusion in the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. Click here to view the article
  8. When an Olympic medal is on the line, international sporting federations tend to direct resources to the discipline in an attempt to increase the chances of success. In addition to its inclusion in the Olympic programme, the UCI World Cup series and high-profile World Championships have attracted some big brands as sponsors. The increased financial support has led to international races being beamed across the globe to fans eager to see if a Swiss, French or Czech flag will be raised above the top step. In South Africa, the late Burry Stander’s success forced us to pay attention to XCO racing and paved the way for others such as Philip Buys, James Reid, Alan Hatherly, Candice Lill (nee Neethling) and Mariske Strauss among others. Pietermaritzburg hosted two UCI World Cup events in 2012 and 2014 and the World Championships in 2013, which brought the World’s best to our doorstep. Participation in the National XCO Cup series has also increased, not only within the elite categories, with more age-group athletes taking part in this exciting discipline. An XCO race is a mass start event that typically lasts between 90 and 105 minutes and takes place over numerous laps of a predetermined course. The course usually consists of climbs, technical descents and single-track. The intermittent nature of XCO requires specific physiological characteristics, which may differ from those required for success in other cycling disciplines. In this article, we will unpack what it takes to be a successful XCO racer. On your marks….. A single lap of an XCO circuit will have a large amount of single track, which may make passing slower riders tricky. Riders’ starting position is determined based on the ranking relevant to the specific race. Starting towards the back of the field will result in an immediate disadvantage, compared to riders who start towards the front and can continue to ride at their desired pace. Riders who are less-technically proficient may slow down their more skilled competitors, but more on the importance of skill later. The elite men start sprint at the 2015 Lenzerheide UCI World Cup. Photo credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool. Researchers at Massey University in New Zealand, performed a longitudinal analysis of the effect start position had on finishing position in UCI World Cups from 1997 – 2007. Their results showed that finishing position is highly dependent on start position. In addition, the researchers recommended that developing athletes, should explore strategies that could assist them in improving their starting position. One such method is accruing UCI points from lower level UCI races, such as National XCO Cup races and stage races, as opposed to only racing World Cup races. Talented, developing XCO racers should be patient and gradually increase their ranking over the competitive season, rather than expecting an instant increase in ranking position. The physiology of XCO Sports science researchers enjoy bringing athletes into a laboratory in an attempt to find associations between physiological variables and performance. In road, marathon mountain-biking and certain track disciplines, the relationship between these physiological variables and performance can be very strong. However, physiological variables determined during standard laboratory testing fail to predict XCO performance on their own. The main reason for this is the absence of an ‘XCO-specific’ test that can provide better insight into the rider’s ability to cope with the demands of the event. In order to better understand the demands on an XCO race, let’s take a quick look at how we produce energy during exercise.A very brief summary of energy production during exercise Lactate threshold (LT) or functional threshold power (FTP) are terms often used to describe the maximal average power output an athlete can sustain for approximately one hour (learn a bit more about using power for training here). When riding at intensities below your threshold, energy is predominantly supplied through the process of oxidative metabolism (aerobic metabolism), which takes place in the mitochondria, the little power plants within our muscle cells. Oxidative metabolism requires the use oxygen to produce energy from carbohydrates and fat. During longer endurance events, such as road or marathon mountain biking races, this is the primary process involved in energy production. Oxidative metabolism has a large capacity to produce energy, but it is not immediately activated and once activated, produces energy at a slower rate compared to other energy systems. By comparison, glycolysis (anaerobic metabolism), which also involves breaking down glucose, or its stored form, glycogen, does so without the use of oxygen. Although energy production happens at a far greater rate, when compared to oxidative metabolism, the energy yield is far less. Energy required for short intense efforts (< 2 minutes) will predominantly be produced via glycolysis. Glycolysis results in the production of two molecules of pyruvate and two hydrogen ions (H+ or protons) for each glucose molecule metabolised. Pyruvate can then enter the mitochondria of the muscle cells and be metabolised further via oxidative metabolism to produce yet more energy. However, if there are insufficient mitochondria and/or low levels of oxygen in the working muscle (due to a low levels of fitness), glycolysis could slow down or even stop. In order to prevent this, pyruvate is converted to lactate by absorbing the proton. This turns lactate into a type of proton shuttle. Remember that pH is a measure of proton (H+) concentration, so by absorbing the proton, lactate is reducing the acidity of the muscle cell rather than increasing it as previously thought. At high rates of glycolysis, lactate is pumped out of the muscle cells by specialised transporters, which results in an increase in the amount of lactate in your blood. One of the physiological adaptations to high-intensity training is an increase in the number of these ‘lactate transporters’ in our muscle cells, which allows us to clear lactate from the working muscles at a faster rate. Once in our blood, lactate can be transported to other muscles, which are working at a lower intensity, where it can be used to produce energy through oxidative metabolism. In the case of an elite XCO rider, the lactate produced in the legs may be used as a fuel in the muscles of the arms and upper body. Understanding which energy systems are involved in during a particular activity allows coaches to tailor training programmes that will ensure that the relevant energy systems are appropriately stressed. Creating sessions specific to a particular energy system will improve the functioning of that system and allow for greater energy production. Now that we know what the energy systems involved in energy production are, how do we measure/monitor them? Aerobic capacity Endurance or aerobic capacity is often determined by measuring two variables; VO2Max – The athlete’s maximal rate of oxygen uptake and use Peak power output (PPO) – Which is the final workload (power output) reached during a standard incremental test in a laboratory Both VO2max and PPO are usually reported relative to body mass (e.g. W/kg for PPO and ml/min/kg for VO2max), and both have been associated with XCO performance. These two measures provide athletes and coaches with an objective indication of aerobic or endurance capacity. However, despite the somewhat strong association between aerobic capacity and XCO performance, the stochastic (intermittent) nature of XCO racing places a high premium on anaerobic capacity. Anaerobic Capacity Initial research into factors associated with XCO performance were fairly unidimensional and only examined the association between data from standard VO2max testing (VO2max, PPO and LT/FTP) and XCO performance. Researchers quickly discovered that despite the strong correlations between these variables and XCO performance, a big part of the proverbial puzzle was missing. The intermittent nature of XCO racing means that performance will most likely be heavily reliant on an athlete’s ability to repeatedly produce a high power output. A recent study examined the association between intermittent power output, measured by a series of sprints with short rest or recovery periods and XCO performance. The study made use on an intermittent power test, which consisted of 20 intervals of 45 seconds of work and 15 second rest periods. The cyclists in this study also performed a 20 minute time-trial in order to determine their FTP (95% of the average power output for the 20 minute effort). The average power output for the 20 intervals and the FTP value were both divided by the mass of the riders in order to account for differences in body size. The cyclists then all took part in an XCO race and the relationship between relative FTP, IP and race performance was examined. Interestingly, the best predictor of XCO race performance was in fact the intermittent power test. While the association between FTP and race performance was strong, it was not as good a predictor of performance as IP was. The increased popularity and availability of power meters, means that intermittent power output can be determined from a field test or training session. For example, two sets of 6 x 40 second sprints with 20 seconds of recovery (A session commonly referred to as 40:20’s), can provide a useful performance predictor for XCO athletes. For coaches or self-coached athletes, including such stochastic or intermittent power sessions are also an ideal preparation for a XCO race. The coaches at Science to Sport regularly include such stochastic intervals, and measure performance and progression by analysing the normalised power (a weighted average of power designed to better represent the true physiological load) across the whole intervals set. Demands of XCO racing Power meters have also given us coaches the ability to closely analyse the demands of a XCO race. Although each XCO race will differ, typically an athlete will spend approximately 35% of the full duration of their race (approximately 90 minutes for elite categories) at a power output above their threshold. Approximately 30% of the full duration of a race will also be spent not producing any power. This occurs on downhills, or when coasting on flats or around corners. Therefore, sessions specifically designed to mimic these demands may be of great benefit to XCO racers.As a practical example, the 2016 South African National XCO Championships were help at Cascades MTB park. Each lap of this course consisted of two moderate length climbs or sections where approximately 60m of altitude was gained. The figure below represents the power data from one of our elite athletes for the first 15 minutes of the 2016 SA Champs. For watt/kg comparisons, this athlete weighs only 72 kgs. From the gun you can see that the athlete kicked out ~1300 watts and had to maintain 1000 watts for 18 seconds. This was followed by several spikes well over his threshold (demonstrated by the yellow dotted line). By the top of the first peak in the course the athlete had averaged 500 watts for 2:30 minutes. The second climb on the course is also very undulating, which results in several efforts far exceeding his threshold power. 10 Minutes into the race his average power was 354 Watts (this include all the downhills too) and his normalised power was 408 watts. The complete opening lap of the course resulted in a normalised power of 385 watts, which far exceeding his set threshold of 360 watts. In this particular race, this athlete completed the full 90 minutes at a normalised power of 350 watts, which again illustrates the extreme demands of an XCO race. The first 15 minutes of an XCO race. This specific example was taken from an elite athlete racing in the 2016 South African National XCO Championships at Cascades MTB park. The yellow solid line represents the power he is producing at the time. The yellow dotted line represent his functional power threshold. The course profile (altitude) is represented by grey shading. The pink line is a representation of his normalised power at that specific time point. Skills will pay the bills XCO tracks are becoming increasingly technical and this places a high premium on the skill level of XCO racers. Uphill climbing ability will be largely determined by the physiological characteristics mentioned above, while descending requires less propulsive work and places a great influence on rider skill. Riders who are able successfully negotiate technical single track descents without additional pedalling, should recover faster than their less skilled competitors. The improved recovery will allow riders to produce more power on subsequent sections of the lap. All cyclists, but XCO riders in particular, should dedicate time to their training for skill development. Mariske Strauss follows Cherie Redecker into a rock garden during practice ahead of the 2016 SA National MTB XCO Champs in Pietermaritzburg. In addition to the ability to negotiated technical single track, recognising the most appropriate line is also an important skill to master. Decision-making is fast becoming a popular area in sports science. Previewing a track with a more experienced rider who can assist riders with correct and timely line choice. Sometimes it is about the bike The variety of XCO tracks in the National and World Cup XCO circuits, means that one bike may not be appropriate for all courses. Tracks that have a large amount of climbing may be best suited for a hardtail, where improved climbing efficiency may outweigh the benefits gained while descending on a full suspension bike. The more technical courses may best suit a full-suspension bike and there is definitely an increase in technical tracks in modern day races. Suspension systems on mountain bikes are designed to reduce the vibrations experienced by riders while they navigate technical single track descents. Excessive vibrations will have a negative impact on performance, but increasing the ‘cost’ of the exercise. Apart from propelling the rider and their bicycles, the rider’s muscles will have to stabilise the rider and work against the vibrations. Suspension systems that best reduce these vibrations can add a performance benefit. Conclusion In summary, XCO performance will be determined by a host of factors including; an athlete’s aerobic capacity, their ability to repeatedly produce high power outputs, their skill level and to some extent their equipment. The first race of the National XCO Cup series takes place this Saturday. It promises to be an exciting event, with the potential for one or two of the top international racers taking part. If you are in the Western Cape, pop round and watch South Africa’s best battle it out with some of the World’s top XCO racers. About the author: Science to SportScience to Sport bridges the gap between scientific research and sports men and women in the field.Utilising scientific tools and experience gained through research and practical involvement at the highest professional and scientific level, the experts at science to sport are able to provide athletes with scientifically validated methods and products which they can use to their advantage during training and competition. Get your questions answered by the Science to Sport team Ask any cycling training, racing or nutrition related questions to be answered in the Q&A with the Coaches podcast. Please submit your questions here.
  9. The boom in participation has gone hand in hand with a huge influx and growth of technology in cycling. For example, the number of athletes participating in the Kona Ironman World Championships racing with powermeters has increased more than 5 fold in the last 8 years. In 2008, less than 10% of bikes had a powermeter, whereas the most recent statistics show >50% of all bikes are being fitted with powermeters. Similar trends, albeit lower percentages, are now being seen in our local mountain bike stage races. The popularity of powermeters has resulted in an abundance of information available on the internet, social media, in books, podcasts, etc. Everywhere we look, there are so called professionals giving training advice. This abundance of freely available information is great, but often leads to confusion, resulting in athletes often over-training, performing and applying training principles incorrectly, which results in stagnated or decreases in performance. As a result, cyclists have begun seeking the help of professional coaches to help de-clutter the abundance of information available. However, not everyone understands the value of a coach or what to expect from a coaching relationship or experience. This leaves us with the questions; will you benefit from getting a coach, and when is the right time to seek the help of a professional coach? We will discuss and try and debunk some pre-conceived ideas about coaching. What is coaching? What seems to be a very simple question is in actual fact the exact question you need to ask yourself when seeking the help of a coach. In cycling terms it is hard to define, however the definitions provided by parallel fields provide useful insights, the international coaching federation (a federation for life coaches) defines coaching as, “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”, and lifestyle or wellness coaching as “a professionally trained coach who acts as a motivator, educator and accountability partner to support individuals in making lasting lifestyle changes that improve their physical and mental wellbeing”. These definitions illustrate the complexity of a coaching relationship and that coaching is far more engaging than simply producing a training program for a client. What should a good coach do? It goes without saying that a good coach needs to provide a periodised training program, which is individualised to your ability and available time. But, what is too often not mentioned is the additional benefits of a coach and the extent of your relationship with your coach. When choosing a coach, you need to know what you want from the relationship. To us, there are four key roles of coaches. To ensure you are going to get the added benefit from a coach, he needs to be able to deliver the following tasks:1) Translation of Science With the abundance of information available, the role of the coach is to translate the science and to incorporate best practice into your training program. One of the fundamental problems with cycling training today is that traditional cycling training methods have become deeply entrenched in what many today believe are best practice. On several occasions recent scientific studies have debunked more traditional training principles. A properly designed periodised training program therefore needs to implement and translate the most recent scientific literature. 2) Motivation and accountability We feel that these two facets; motivation and accountability, go hand in hand and are critically important. For these to be properly implemented you do however need to ensure that you invest in a more interactive training plan. Coaches normally have a few tiers or packages of coaching and provide anything from monthly interaction with four weeks of individualised training (what we call category 3 coaching) to a very interactive relationship with analysis of session data and monitoring (what we call category 1). The latter category of coaching would be essential if motivation and accountability are required. We all know how hard it is to drag oneself out of bed on a cold winter morning. Knowing that you are going to have to answer to your coach is certainly a very undervalued benefit. Further, we all have times when training and life simply gets tough. Your coach is there for support when times gets tough and may be your outlet, which is often required to get you back on the road and focussed on your training goal. 3) Eliminate uncertainty Our experiences have taught us that a successful athlete is a highly driven athlete. A highly driven athlete always tends to try and do too much, train too hard and always feels as if he has not done enough or trained hard enough. A coach is there to eliminate this uncertainty and help guide the athlete and remind the athlete of the greater goal. In the age where there is an abundance of self-proclaimed experts around trying to impart their wisdom, especially when we see our competitors and friends post their rides on Strava as soon as they are done, it is only natural to start doubting what you are doing and feel as if you are not doing enough. It is when this doubt creeps in that we tend to deviate from our original plan. It is this uncertainty that a coach helps you eliminate. 4) Objective feedback The process of training requires careful monitoring across a season, but also monitoring and analysis of specific key training sessions. The problem when looking at your own training is the large level of subjectivity. Athletes tend to be very harsh with themselves due to being extremely driven. A good session will never be good enough, which will eventually lead to the athlete feeling that they need to do more – resulting in over-training and a decrease in performance. The benefit of a coach is that your coach will objectively analyse key sessions (if included in your package as mentioned above). This again is a huge benefit to eliminate doubt and ensure progression. When should I get the help of a professional coach? Personally, we don’t believe there is a right or wrong time to utilise a coaching service. Coaching is for anyone from the individual who is simply trying to get more active and lose a few kilograms, to the professional cyclist. Personally, we have found that individuals who gain the most are those who have tried self-coaching and have failed or stagnated due to the reasons discussed above. We have some of our greatest successes and improvements from athletes who had stagnated for years despite training very hard (too much). Is getting a coach the right option for me? Important to note that no coach is going to be of any benefit to you if you are not able to listen and trust your coach 100%. You have to respect your coach and trust that she/he knows what is best for you. Any amount of doubt in your coach will nullify any potential benefit. Often athletes who come from self-coached backgrounds are still very stuck in their own ways and not always open-minded to change. Coaching is a two-way relationship and communication and trust are key elements of that relationship. How long before I may start noticing benefits and how much will I improve? You are not necessarily going to see immediate improvements. Any well-developed training program is periodised and includes all facets which contribute to your ability to ride faster. These then come together in a so-called ‘peak’ at the time of the event you are training for. That being said you should see small (<2%) session-to-session improvements when repeating the same training sessions. This should be monitored by coaches to ensure that there is progression, albeit small. However, there is no way to predict your personal ability and potential to improve. Genetically we are all different and therefore our ability to respond to training will be vastly different. We do, however, regularly see improvements of around 5% in peak power output from one year to the next. Which category of coaching is best for me? Over and above your personal budget you have to ask yourself why you have sought the help of a coach. To be able to choose the correct coaching package you have to review the four key roles of coaches highlighted above. Compare what you are expected to receive in each coaching package and compare it against the potential listed benefits. Only a very comprehensive package (what we call category 1) will give you all the potential benefits. Other important factors to consider are how structured your calendar is. For example, if you require your training program to be adjusted regularly to accommodate your ever-changing work commitments, a basic package (category 3) is going to be of little benefit to you. When you meet with you prospective coach for the first time, go with a list of expectations and let him guide you to the correct coaching package. About the author: Science to SportScience to Sport bridges the gap between scientific research and sports men and women in the field.Utilising scientific tools and experience gained through research and practical involvement at the highest professional and scientific level, the experts at science to sport are able to provide athletes with scientifically validated methods and products which they can use to their advantage during training and competition.
  10. The cycling industry as a whole has seen a tremendous boom during the last decade. Cycling has been coined the “new golf” and the industry has seen over 100% growth in both participation and sales during the last 10 years. But our new golfers are not satisfied with only participating, they want to be competitive. Especially in South Africa, which has always been a nation obsessed with ultra endurance sport, our new golfers want to take on the world’s toughest mountain bike stage races and not only finish, but excel and beat their peers. Click here to view the article
  11. The team at Science2Sport which includes leading sports scientists, Dr Jeroen Swart, Dr Mike Posthumus, John Wakefield, and Benoit Capostagno, will be addressing the answers to your cycling related queries. The discussion will be led by local mountain bike pioneer Steve Bowman. Previous articles written by the Science2Sport team for Bike Hub: Who needs a coach anyway? by John Wakefield and Dr Mike Posthumus. A scientific guide to race day nutrition by Dr Jeroen Swart and Ben Capostagno. Ensuring training progression with power by Dr Mike Posthumus and John Wakefield. Training with a power meter: the ins and outs by Ben Capostagno and Dr Jeroen Swart. Submit your questions: Here's your chance to ask any cycling training, racing or nutrition related questions you have. Please submit your questions via the form below or leave a comment.
  12. Bike Hub and the sports scientists from Science2Sport will be doing a series of podcasts to address common cycling training related questions, and we want your input to fuel the discussion. Click here to view the article
  13. Training is defined as the act of performing a given athletic task with the goal of creating a stress to your body’s homeostasis with the intention to trigger signals to cause positive physiological adaptation. In simple terms, after a training session, your performance will first decrease to a point (depending on how hard the training sessions was) and then will slowly increase until your body has adapted, leading to improved performance. This physiological principle was first described in 1936 by Hans Seyle and it is known as the general adaptation syndrome (Figure 1). Figure 1: A diagram describing effect of training stress upon performance, as described originally by Hans Seyle in the general adaptation syndrome. The general adaptation syndrome and its application to training The simplified explanation of the general adaptation syndrome shown in figure 1 consists of an alarm phase and a resistance phase. In brief, the alarm phase is the body’s initial response to the training stress and may be demonstrated by performing an extremely hard session or effort two days in a row. This will normally lead to a worse performance the second day. The resistance phase is the phase after the body has responded and adapted to the training stress. During this phase a repeated very hard effort will lead to an improved performance.An ideal training program should consist of very hard training sessions which are repeated once you have adequately recovered and are within this resistance phase. There really is no way to know when you are within this phase until you analyse the specific session retrospectively. Frequent analysis will inform you and teach you about your body and how you recover from specific training sessions. It is very important to note that each individual responds totally differently to a certain training stress. For example, you may have noticed when training with a training partner and you both perform the same session on a Tuesday, that when you perform the same session on a Thursday, that your training partner feels great and has improved, but you feel sluggish, tired, and simply can’t sustain the same power as what you did two days before. This is a perfect example of two individuals, who respond differently, and again highlights the importance of analysing data to gain knowledge of how rapidly you recover and adapt to hard training sessions. It is also important to note that when we think about the general adaptation syndrome and stress in the context of training, we can’t exclude the effects of other sources of stress on your body. Stress, whether it is training stress or work stress, accumulates and may prolong the alarm phase, or even blunt the resistance phase. Therefore, if you responded positively to 3 days of rest between key hard training sessions in the past, you may need more recovery if you have had a couple of late nights with a lot of work stress. How to analyse your training session? This leaves us with the question: “How should we be analysing our data to ensure that we are improving?” Commonly, hard training sessions consist of interval sessions. The major advantage of training with a powermeter is that it provides you with an exact objective measure of your performance. You should analyse and plot each interval and calculate your “session average” for the specific sessions. Therefore if you do a 3 x 10 minute interval session, and you achieve 410W, 398W and 388 watts for the 3 respective intervals, your session average is 399 watts. It becomes a bit harder to measure performance objectively when you are not training with a powermeter, because measures such as speed and distance may be affected by the wind and other factors. Below we have included an example from an athlete. Figure 2: A diagram showing session analysis of all 4 minute (typically 6 x 4 minute intervals with 2.5 minutes rest) and 2 minute intervals (8 x 2 minute intervals with 90 second rest) that a certain athlete has performed. These sessions are analysed to ensure that the session average (shown on the figure with a short horizontal line) is improved from session to session. Sticking to a standardised training session which is repeated often allows us coaches to compare apples to apples. It may seem monotonous to some repeating certain sessions, but it is difficult to compare 5 x 5 minute intervals to 6 x 4 minute intervals. For this reason, our library of sessions are often limited and would recommend you do the same for you to be able to repeat certain session to ensure that you are progressing. What should I do when I am not improving? Referring back to Hans Seyle, if training is not bringing on improved adaptations you are either not training enough (in which case you are past the resistance phase and detraining has occurred), or in most cases you simply have not rested long enough.The most common error made among competitive recreational, amateur and elite cyclists is that they simply do not include enough rest between training sessions. Therefore, they are training and performing hard training sessions within the alarm phase before their bodies have adapted from the previous training sessions. This will eventually lead to a downward spiral of performance and may eventually lead to a state of overtraining, where prolonged rest is required. However, not to be alarmed, in most cases simply including adequate rest (days) between hard training sessions and ensuring that the easy days remain easy are normally enough to get most athletes out of their ruts. What about the days between interval sessions? Without spoiling an up and coming article feature too much, the principle of polarized training is also very important. In brief, polarized training implies that your hard rides should be very hard and constitute approximately 20% of your training load. The remaining 80% should remain very easy. Therefore, in support of this principle, and in support of the general adaptation syndrome, ensure that your days between your hard interval days remain very easy and do not add significant training stress. About the author: Science to SportScience to Sport bridges the gap between scientific research and sports men and women in the field.Utilising scientific tools and experience gained through research and practical involvement at the highest professional and scientific level, the experts at science to sport are able to provide athletes with scientifically validated methods and products which they can use to their advantage during training and competition.
  14. Last month we discussed the ins and outs of training with a powermeter and briefly touched on the analysis of training data. This month we will discuss how a powermeter can ensure that your training is actually paying dividends. Click here to view the article
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