March 15, 2010

human dyno or… lactate testing – low on power

I took my Lactate Threshold test at the beginning of the month and have been putting off writing it up. After joining the Peninsula Velo Performance Team, Mark, the team coordinator recommended that I take a Lactate test to see where my fitness levels were and to establish heart rate training zones. I had read much about training zones, lactate thresholds, and other training concepts from Joe Friel, Bicycling magazine, and other online sources, but doing testing would allow me to put all of that advice into context.

The test was performed by Peninsula Velo Team Coach Clark Natwick. I was instructed to rest 48 hours before the test so that I would be rested enough to put in a good effort. I took it easy for two days before the test, but I was coming off a slight fever and did not get too much sleep the previous night. I also had not eaten much that day, so I took a gel before and during the test to make sure I wouldn’t bonk.

The first thing we did was the body composition test. After pinching me all over, Clark came up with a body fat percent of 11.5%, which apparently is not bad. I erroneously estimated my weight to be 140lbs, which was about 6lbs off of what it really was. My body fat and weight numbers were good.

After the body comp, I got setup on the Computrainer and warmed up for about 15 minutes. For the test, Clark used a ramp protocol. The protocol dictated that the rider would start at a certain power level of resistance and the power level would be increased after each interval. During each interval, a blood sample was taken to measure the lactate in mMol/L. Clark started me at 130W and increased the wattage by 30W every 4 minutes. (There was a slight hiccup at 160W, which I did for 8 minutes instead of 4 because my ear refused to bleed.) From 130-190W, I felt good, but at 220W, it started to get harder. At 250W, my cadence was dropping below 80rpm and eventually I couldn’t go anymore. I didn’t make it to 4 minutes at 250W.

This was the raw data captured. The things to observe are:

  • We should have started at a lower wattage to get a lactate reading of around 1.0mMol/L.
  • OBLA (Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation) is at 4.5mMol/L, and by 220W, I was over that limit.
  • My heart rate does not go very high.

This table shows the power generated at each Heart Rate. My power to weight ratio at OLBA is 3.3W/kg.

Conclusion: I lack power and I lack pedal efficiency. I need to work on both of those through drills such as single leg pedaling, hamstring pulls, slow frequency repetitions, and high cadence. Also, since I have not built up a proper base, I should start my base period and hold off on racing until I exit the base period. I gained a lot of knowledge talking to Clark, and still am absorbing it all. My next step is to plan and implement a training schedule.


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