By understanding where your limitations are within your training parameters you can aim to focus on these weaknesses in order to enhance your overall performance. This results in quicker race times, a higher overall level of fitness and a better recovery.
How do you do this?
By going through a VO2max and lactate threshold testing session. This will indicate which areas of your training you have mainly been focussing on up until this point and also indicate which areas you will need to work on. i.e. Most amateur/social cyclists will spend most of their training on long slow distance rides and not necessarily work on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions. Therefore, not really stressing their anaerobic/lactate system in order to create a physical adaptation. If they were to focus some of their time training these areas they would feel much fitter on their slow long rides and because their legs are more efficient in the flushing of lactate from the muscles their recovery would be better too.
What is VO2max you ask?
It is the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual. Your oxygen consumption will increase and rise as you start to exert yourself and at the point that your oxygen consumption plateaus is your VO2max.
What is lactate threshold?
Your lactate or anaerobic threshold is the point at which your body can no longer buffer the lactate at a quicker rate than it is being produced. In other words, the point where lactate really starts to build in the muscles, this is usually when you feel your muscles burning and feel as though you can't keep going much longer.
Now you can see why training just beyond your lactate threshold for short bursts will have an impact on the body's ability to develop it's lactate/anaerobic threshold. It has been shown that there is only very minimal improvements that can be made on VO2max, particularly on trained individuals. Larger improvements can be seen on untrained individuals. Saying that, by training your anaerobic system effectively you can improve your fitness and as a result slightly improve your VO2max.
Lactate testing gives us much more useful information on developing effective training protocols.
If you are interested in finding out where you are at with your training and would like to improve your overall fitness and maybe improve times on races then please contact me for further information. Testing is available out of a location on The Parade, Beulah Park.