Becoming a well-conditioned bicyclist requires that that you improve your body's ability to utilize its energy sources. The ability to feel fast and efficient on your bicycle means your body has to learn how to respond to changes in lactic acid. When a cyclist is climbing a grueling hill, lactic acid builds up in the muscles. The body's ability to recover and clear out as much lactic acid from the muscles dictate the endurance a cyclist can expect to have on a bike ride. The following are 4 ways to increase your cycling performance.
Ride Hard and Far to Raise Your VO2 max
High-intensity endurance work should raise your V02 max. The idea is that to improve your anaerobic threshold or AT, which is considered one of the best indicators of endurance performance, you should ride just below AT as long as you can. Most beginning cyclist begin by trying to hold the intensity for 10-30 minutes then increase the amount as endurance increases. Increasing your the aerobic maximum is not easy and is largely determined by genetics.
Interval Training Stimulates the AT
Interval training can help raise the anaerobic threshold of cyclists. This training can enhance the utilization of lactic acid. In order to get the most of this training the cyclists heart rate will be used as a guide. The cyclist will ride at 80-90% of their maximum effort for 1--20 seconds, followed by a lower intensity recovery for 1-2 minutes. Well trained cyclists will try to improve those numbers where the interval will be 60-90 seconds of high intensity riding followed by 30-45 seconds of active rest. Also, the number of intervals performed will increase as the cyclist's fitness improves.
Train on the Hills
Riding hills or mountains will train your body to tolerate increased amounts of lactic acid. This will allow the cyclist to continue above AT for longer periods of time, which is important for climbing and sprinting. Long workouts lasting 20-60 minutes at AT intensity, with no recovery period will help increase your lactate tolerance.
Hit the Weight Room
Weight training and hard sprints will increase the size of your quadriceps and other muscle groups, which are important for propelling the cycle forward. Endurance riders do not need the extra bulk that weight training will bring so the weight room effort should focus on endurance. For sprinters though, power is key, so the weight training should involve lifting for the major muscle groups.
The key to fitness cycling is to train your body to rid itself of lactic acid as efficiently as possible. Intervals, hill climbs, weight training and old-fashioned hard riding will enable the recreational, sport or advanced cyclist to increase the performance of the body's energy systems.