Finishing a long season of training and racing usually means that we have taken our body to endurance extremes compared to more sedentary individuals. Stressing our muscles and cardio-respiratory system week in, week out can take its toll. So that we remain fresh and strong to start the virtuous training cycle again, we need to change our approach to conditioning so we can build on what we have achieved thus far. Aerobic capacity will deteriorate initially at the start of winter training as both load and intensity drop off, however we can control this while we re-build muscular power and anaerobic capacity so that we can be in prime condition for the start of next season.
Entering into a periodised strength training programme allows us to balance resistance and endurance work-outs while we work on short duration intensity and improve our weaknesses; this can be generally classified as either too strong an anaerobic system (hence the use of longer duration VO2max stimuli to convert (remodel) muscle fiber types) or too weak an anaerobic system (hence the need for greater neuro-muscular work-outs which recruit more of these types of muscle fibres). Specific conditioning of the recruited fibers and energy systems in terms of threshold and endurance should be developed over time as you approach your main goal, using other ‘training’ events to help with this. But first we just need a complete picture. To help us achieve this, changing our diets through-out each phase to meet the nutritional demands of repairing and building muscle density relies on sufficient protein intake. Notoriously, protein supplementation has been shown, through meta-analysis, to enhance lean mass gain and strength.
Changes in lean mass through hypertrophy training can be measured in muscle fiber area. Although alone, protein supplementation may not explain the marginal gains seen in this type of strength training. Differences in in gains of fat-free mass between supplemented and non-supplemented groups ranged 0.47 – 1.1 kg and an increase of approximately 2 – 15 % in terms of strength gains (Cermak et al, 2012). With relatively small absolute changes in objective measurements it is clear that large differences in response exist throughout the population, with a minority of individuals ‘adversely’ responding, suggesting that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is not appropriate even with optimised intake. In fact, the benefit of protein supplementation may well be negligible compared to their innate ability to respond and vice-versa that some ‘poor’ responders to resistance training may be due to their relative under-consumption of protein. For this reason hypertrophy is an extremely difficult phase to achieve successfully as part of rehabilitation for muscle imbalance, atrophy, and sarcopenia in ageing athletes. Amount and timing of protein intake is known to influence the degree of muscle repair with the frequency of eating between 30-50g during optimal windows throughout the day to achieve a high total absorption to support the intensity of resistance exercise.
In more recent years, creatine has gained popularity as both a resistance training supplement and ergogenic aid, complementing protein intake high in the 9 essential amino acids Histidine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Valine, Tryptophan, Methionine, Phenylalanine and Threonine. Of which the Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine are important for specialist tissue functions especially part of the immune system. Creatine is not an amino acid it is assembled from amino acid fragments, and acts as a vehicle for direct re-phosphorylation of ADP as to restore the ATP pool part of the creatine phosphate (CrP) energy system. This immediate use ATP pool is used to activate high force glycolytic muscle contrations of very short durations up to 15 seconds or approximately 70 maximal twitches/ elicted contractions. Although the creatine phosphate system is not utilised during lower intensity endurance effort relying of slower more efficient muscle fibres (Type I) used for predominantly aerobic force development, the phospho-creatine system assists in fast twitch contractions (Type II) and hence neuro-muscular stimulation and the recruitment of more of these types of fibers which can then be remodeled through training, strength to power, power to endurance. We know that an important component of cycling performance relies on a well-tuned anaerobic system, as increasing power is more often beneficial than losing excessive weight and lean mass, depending on your desired objective.
Creatine has been thoroughly researched over the years, though much stigma remains as public debate about potential toxicity issues still exist. However the benefits of creatine supplementation with optimised protein (e.g. Myomax Professional, Sci-Tech nutrition) intake for gains in strength and hypertrophy training remain impressive. As not to repeat the details, I have included this comprehensive literature review as an initial source of information for you to base your own assumptions. Any ergogenic aid or supplement should be derived from a trusted and reputable source which comply with valid regulations of purity and quality. Also, any dose-recommendation by the manufacturer should be adjusted on a trail-and-error basis to match your requirements, in general starting at a much lower dose and ‘titrating’ this until a desired response is experienced is always the best approach. Loading doses may not necessarily be justified as frequency of administration should achieve an effective steady-state without wasting unnecessary and expensive product.
You may learn a great deal more about the specifics of appropriate sport nutrition and it’s effect on performance here….
CPS IN-MOTION and its representative officers adhere to the Code of Conduct set out by the British Association of Sports and Exercise Science (BASES) at all times. Training and assessments are designed around the use of a heart rate monitor, power meter and rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Heart rate zones or power level training based on the lactate threshold, critical power or functional threshold power of a client is the suggested model to benefit the most from any periodisation plan. All recommendations by CPS IN-MOTION for endurance or strength training and changes in nutrition to help improve cycling performance serve as guidance only – you should always train within the limits of your personal ability, health and in a safe and secure environment. Training or nutritional recommendations may result in positive as well as negative effects on short-term and long-term health and well-being. Any accidental harm or personal misfortune (injury, illness, loss of earnings, death) suffered on the road whilst undertaking training will not be deemed the fault of CPS IN-MOTION or any of its representatives. Clients are expected to abide by the highway code at all times. It is recommended that you consult with your health care provider or physician before beginning any exercise program or physiological assessment. No liability, implied or actual, is assumed by CPS IN-MOTION and associated parties for any injury, illness, or other misfortune that may befall participants engaging in any recommended training regimen or physiological assessment. By following any recommendations for diet, training or a periodization plan set out by CPS IN-MOTION you agree to adhere to these terms and conditions.