Which types of athletes suit your programmes?
CPS In-Motion works with all ages or ability of endurance athlete, whether cyclist, runner or duathlete. We take on individuals with a good fit, typically those who may have been coached previously, or self-coached with frustrating results. We specialise in challenging cases, whether due to aspirations of riding at elite level, overtraining or coming back from a long break or injury.
Typically individuals range from those new to the sport and would like to progress quickly and avoid costly hiccups along the way, to those who may be experienced competitors, possibly time-crunched and losing touch with how to get the most out of their training. Everyone learns their own process of improving performance and becomes a master of their own training.
In all cases, we evaluate the unique profile of all athletes, so we are able to apply evidence-based and effective principles of exercise science to maximise success in your objectives.
Can you give me a brief overview of your process?
Our process is simple, after our initial contact and discussion about your background and expectations from supported training and for your event (or calendar of races), We then schedule preliminary assessments at our studio in Raynes Park or remotely. These are necessary to profile your unique physiological capacity, during low volume training periods, to understand strengths and weaknesses in relation to your event.
The data provided works to; understand your unique physiology, set a baseline for follow-up comparisons and serve as training tools during the programme. After you have conducted the test and the data have been processed, we will write a personalised report highlighting the key areas and conclusions in the context of your history and training status. We will also hold a dialogue with you to confirm the conclusions and any necessary training suggestions. Subsequent to that we will keep your performance data in a personal database, to provide you with a track record of all the functional and physiological assessments you have undertaken with us. This will allow your coach or yourself to compare ongoing progression and the effectiveness of a properly implemented training programme.
Files from historical training sessions will be uploaded to your Training Peaks account (coaching link provided), and information on expendable training time will allow us to draft an initial programme to start your programme in good time.
All relevant materials and explanations will be provided along the way. Dynamic programmes remain flexible to account for minor revisions due variation in adaptation rates, impromptu trips or acute illnesses.
Which physiological assessments are necessary?
Anaerobic and aerobic metabolism are synergistic systems of human muscle physiology and biochemistry. The efficiency of these two metabolic ‘engines’ determine a riders absolute endurance and sustainable power. Lactate threshold power/ speed is now known to be the key physiological biomarker important for predicting competitive performance in a wide array of race disciplines; TT, triathlon, road-racing and running.
Robust physiological and functional performance assessments are offered to provide support to performance progression and periodised training programmes. Each assessment serves a particular purpose for different aspects of physiology involved in cycling and provide fundamental support of the Steering Principle (Measure-Adjust-Train)
Both Lactate Threshold testing and Critical Power profiling provides all the data needed to steer any level of competitor in the right direction and gain achievable and realistic levels of fitness, in a transparent and scientific manner.
Taken in conjunction with the cyclists history, training status and future objectives, an optimal periodisation plan can be mapped out to achieve peak performance at the right time or for an important event or series of races.
All the physiological and functional tests you undertake with us are kept on file as part of your personal biophysical profile. We will store all test and physiological assessment results in our performance database, for easy future reference and track important long-term progress in your training.
What is Lactate Threshold?
At rest and under steady-state exercise conditions, a balance exists between blood lactate production and blood lactate removal. Lactate threshold refers to the point of intensity of exercise at which there is an abrupt increase in blood lactate levels after any further increase in work is performed. LTP represents the highest exercise work rate intensity/ pace an athlete can endure for a prolonged period (approx 30 – 90min). LTP is the power level or work load at which the lactate removed from the blood through respiration or conversion back into glucose by the liver, kidneys and other muscle tissues is overwhelmed by lactate accumulation from increasing levels anaerobic metabolism during hypoxic training. However, it is now believed that the accompanying oxygen deficiency and resulting acidosis is responsible for muscle failure and exhaustion as opposed to lactate itself, which may help suppress the effects of fatigue under maximal exertion. As a result, power output or running pace drops, exertion effort increases and the athlete is forced to slow down.
Why measure Lactate Threshold?
Lactate Threshold has been referenced more and more frequently in scientific literature to be a consistent predictor of endurance exercise performance. LT is an extremely trainable physiological marker and indicator of the capacity of both anaerobic and aerobic energy systems in any athlete. With the advent of power meters, testing increasing power outputs can identify a riders LT and the corresponding training zones. By evaluating a riders power output at LT, we can determine the potential for success. Power outputs at lactate threshold have been highly correlated with average power outputs during time trials ranging from 60-90 minutes (duration of glycogen store depletion), and are highly representative of a 40km TT performance.
As blood lactate can still be used as a fuel in aerobic metabolism when oxygen is available, this tells us that LT is an invaluable window into the proportion of absolute aerobic capacity (as indicated by VO2max, which is predominantly determined genetically) available before the anaerobic power of the cyclist before exercising maximally i.e. a ‘big aerobic engine’. Whereas VO2max measures the capacity of the combined cardiovascular and respiratory systems to deliver blood and oxygen to the tissues, lactate threshold values take mechanical efficiency into consideration and is an indirect measure of the capacity of the muscles and tissues to utilise oxygen.
Who does Lactate Threshold testing benefit?
Performing a full Lactate Threshold (LT) assessment will benefit any competitive cyclist or runner looking to structure their training in the most efficient way possible, and understand their strengths and weaknesses more fully.
The shift in the blood lactate accumulation to even higher power-outputs should be the ultimate objective of any LT based training programme. Whether your personal goal is to improve your time in a sportive, ride at a specific power-to-weight ratio or increasing running threshold duration or pace, accurately assessing your LT before starting any serious training regimen or pre- , mid- and post-event season will provide you with an objective assessment of your performance progression, and a robust baseline to comparre future improvements.
Once your LTP is determined, we will then be able to precisely calculate the LT power or LT heart-rate zones which should be the fundamental basis of your training programme, using a power meter (preferable) or HR monitor, respectively. Considerable differences in LTs over a well designed training programme have been observed in a broad spectrum of athletes, and is clearly the most quantitative approach to steering a successful coaching programme, to become stronger and faster.
How is Lactate Threshold tested?
Our full LT profile analysis is performed under ‘lab conditions’ which is critical for un-biased repeat testing comparisons and only takes approx. 1.5 hour to complete. To assess improvements in athlete performance over time, visits should be made at baseline and follow-up after a set training programme. The individual athlete is given a full consultation to ascertain training history, current training status and performance goals. All riders are expected to have permission from their physician/GP to perform an LT ramp-test, or sign a waiver.
After a sufficient warm-up period, Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE), Heart Rate and Blood Lactate are recorded at incremental loads at a constant preferred cadence, with the starting point and size of increments depending on the riders ability. Each stage lasts 3 minutes, allowing sufficient time for the subject to achieve steady-state heart rate, VO2 consumption, and lactate production. A single accurate blood sample taken using a simple and ‘pain-free’ finger prick. The test progresses with increasing steps of work and the process is repeated until an obvious spike in lactate concentration occurs and is usually associated with exhaustion of the athlete.
Blood lactate concentration is measured in millimoles of lactate per litre of blood (mmol/L) the LT is typically expressed as a percentage of an estimated VO2max for the individual. The LT power training zones can be subsequently calculated and scaled to establish an effective training programme aimed at efficiently improving lactate threshold and overall performance. We recommend re-testing every 3/4 months to determine the success of a specific training programme or racing season.
Do I need a power meter?
Performance cyclists do not necessarily need to own a power meter to train effectively. Training schedules based on heart-rate and Relative Perceived Exertion (RPE) or threshold pace (for running) measurements can provide an adequate means for assessing training volume and intensity, especially when supplemented with well conducted and reproducible physiological assessments to measure, adjust and steer the programme in the right direction.
Although training with both a power meter a heart rate monitor provides a powerful biometric feedback for monitoring, interpreting the data can be a daunting task, and can take valuable time to process for those not familiar. The comparative value of the power: heart rate ratio over steady-state sessions and its relative relationship which changes over the course of fitness improvements or decline. This offers offers excellent insight into how a rider is responding to a training plan and incremental progression in performance.
Riding at the same power output with a lower heart rate is an indication of improved fitness assuming a relative lowering or no change in RPE. An increase in perceived exertion with lower heart rate would suggest fatigue, especially if the rider is unable to sustain a particular power and previous sessions were indicative of a poorer performance.
A power/ speed and heart-rate based assessment provides personalised training zones indicating optimised ranges of power and heart rate required for a successful training programme to improve your lactate threshold, critical power and Maximum Aerobic Power (VO2max).
Each zone has specific training benefits with the aim of increasing the proportion of your overall aerobic and anaerobic capacities at your disposal, for improved long-term cycling performance.
Do I need a SMART turbo trainer?
Performance cycling has entered a new era, with cutting edge scientific training methods, the advent of cheaper and reliable cycling power-meters and advanced ANT+ technology. It has never been so easy to be in so much control of an effective training programme.
While training with a power meter is fast becoming the normal practice at all levels, many cyclists are using SMART turbo systems which exploit many of the interactive ‘training’ platforms to base their workouts. The Wahoo KICKR or SNAP, Tacx Neo, Cyclops Hammer are all remote power-based systems which support connections to Trainer Road, Zwift, VeloReality etc with their own plus and minus points, although in general direct-drive systems tend to perform better. Please check out some in depth reviews here before making a suitable choice for your needs.
SMART turbos really come in to their own for conducting specific interval workouts rather than free riding and simply recording a power file. ERG mode can dictate power over duration so a rider is hitting exactly the prescribed power for the required time, although this removes the skill of pacing, on certain occasions this can be extremely beneficial for evaluating power-heart rate relationship or ratio rather than on the road which is subject to random variables, such as erratic gradients, wind and traffic.
Ideally, a mobile power meter on the bike and a standard turbo trainer or just a SMART turbo system, both with heart rate monitoring would be considered the essential minimum for following our dynamicall prescribed training programmes.
Can I monitor sessions with heart rate only?
Accurate interpretation of heart rate data alone can be difficult as heart rate is subject to variation (particularly in road cycling where external and internal factors can change quickly) caused by independent variables; dehydration, quality of sleep and fatigue, body temperature (cardiac drift) and position on the bike. This makes the approximation between intensity levels using heart rate alone vary greatly within an individual.
However the total intensity of heart rate can be a good representation of exercise volume and training response, especially in running. The Training – Impulse (TRIMP) model has been well established as a valuable training tool by Banister. The maximum heart rate reserve (MHRR) is key to the relationship measuring heart rate with other data channels.
The upper limit (Maximum HR) remains mostly static, and is not justified in measuring, while the resting heart rate and hence sub-maximal heart rate for any particular effort will fall, as a cyclist or runners fitness improves and cardiac output increases. The impulse response model is limited by efforts above Maximal Aerobic Power and have a large anaerobic capacity component which is not captured by maximal heart rate data.
This is generally why training with a power-meter is a superior method (although equivalent issues for unaccountable extreme physiological stresses can be dealt with using the Normalised Power model (NP).
Basically, our running programmes are prescribed to Threshold heart rate and pace, whereas it is easier and preferred to deliver cycling sessions through power-based workouts, a power meter isn’t always necessary for the bike, if you are looking for a more simplistic programme or have a SMART turbo trainer that you prefer to train on mid-week.
See the FAQ on Do I need a power meter? …..and read more on Training with HR and POWER.
How long does it take to get faster?
Significant improvements in performance are usually not linear, meaning that progression in becoming quicker compared to previous performances or other riders doesn’t typically happen obviously each week…but more markedly towards the end of a programme depending how compliant an athlete has been with training.
Regardless of life and work commitments, illnesses or injury…response and adaptation to training follows biological laws of stimulus (stress from exercise) and response (strength from resulting adaptation) which doesn’t translate directly to continuously faster times. Overload of divergent exercises means that some weeks will feel harder than others, as you follow both general and specific conditioning through your periodisation programme. This is a key part on working on weaknesses through strength and conditioning specific to cycling or running.
Initially, other economy aspects of performance are noteably improved, such as lower heart rate for effort, greater endurance on longer breakthrough workouts and less relative exertion on some gradients…whereas duration of aerobic capacity and increase in lactate threshold power or speed are secondary to develop longer term and soon become apparent after successful blocks of training.
What changes will I need to make to my food intake?
As nutrition is an important part of performance progression, we offer a full complimentary nutritional analysis for new athletes who are looking to optimise power-to-weight, either through fat loss or lean muscle increase. Nutritics analysis (read more here) provides insightful information on micro and macro-nutrient intake and any deficiencies when matched with training according to current Daily Recommended Values for advanced athletic profiles, without the need for blood analysis.
This may flag any issues at the start of a programme and allow those to be corrected well in advance of any obvious problems. Realistic changes to intake, as part of periodising nutrition will help you achieve objectives more quickly and should be a highly recommended by any professional performance practitioner, as part of any effective long term endurance programme.
Can I be in peak condition for all of my events?
The initial steps of designing a programme include agreeing both target ‘A’ races as well as training ‘B’ or ‘C’ races with varying priority. Biometric testing through physiological assessment then confirms necessary performance objectives and type of periodisation suitable.
Either single, double or multiple peak periodisation is timed for maximum likelihood for your event date through backward induction. Meaning depending on the events(s) planned programmes are designed to maximise prime cycling immediately prior to and after you event. Multiple events or a series of races are treated to build to a target, although athletes can expect to be in prime shape which is maintained through careful volume and intensity adjustments to get the best results during the season.
What does an annual training plan entail?
The design of a periodised training programme typically incorporates your target and training events along with performance objectives (biometric assessment). Therefore the choice of periodisation is dependent on the athlete and the event demands which may translate into a sturctured period of maintenance, general and specific endurance training typically as a combination of interval and high volume riding, with adequate recovery low volume weeks.
These segments are scheduled along with resistance training phases, and necessary weeks in each phase according to objectives and athlete physiological profile of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. Training camps and events ‘B’ and ‘C’ are factored in to get the most return on Target ‘A’ preparation.
Evaluation of time in phase, stage or segment is evaluated along the way with the help of follow-up asessments. Then depending on the nature of the event or series of races, adeqaute taper periods are introduced or build-periods and maintenance for the start of a race series.
You may read more on coaching programmes with CPS In-Motion here.
What is periodisation?
The response to a training stimulus (the Impulse-Response) is highly individual, as any one session will affect each athlete in a different way as dictated by genetic determinants of a cyclists physiology. The scientific approach is to apply the concept of a preferred periodisation model; traditional, block or polarised, depending on lifestyle, in a personalised manner and achieve peak performance for the required event.
A carefully planned periodisation programme with varying training intensities and over-load tailored to an individual, using these scaled zones is currently the most effective training tool used by amateurs and professionals alike.
Training periodisation relies principally on the progressive overload produced by specifically prescribed sessions at the right frequency. Training load and therefore volume (intensity x frequency x duration) is associated with the magnitude of gain in performance, although the optimal frequency of the training is often a variable parameter depending on the individual. Manipulating the components listed below, as well as factoring adequate recovery is instrumental to the success of a programme.
- General Conditioning- aerobic endurance.
- Specific Conditioning – intensity and overloading.
- Tapering, Super-compensation and peak performance.
- Recovery and de-training.
The three common training periodisation formats which are in popular use for cycling are:
Traditional periodisation is a structured approach to training effect using a mixture of training intensities which complement the target level of training with the fatigue of the cyclist to ultimately increase the training load and create adaption. This format assumes that training sessions elicit a similar response to that of a ‘typical’ rider although the volumes and intensities are customised accordingly to fit with the individuals progression to change the plan to suit the cyclist as suggested by the performance results during each phase. This method relies on a logical combination of low (active recovery, endurance), moderate (tempo, sub-threshold) and high intensity (threshold VO2max and anaerobic) efforts for devoted systems; intervals, endurance rides, threshold intervals, sprints etc, to optimise the training time available over a period of weeks and months. Peak performance may be achieved for a single short period of competition before a recovery period is entered (including rest and cross-training), after which the cycle can then be repeated.
Block periodisation shortens the phases of a traditional periodisation so that peak performances can occur more often. A layered approach to create a physiological response at each level of intensity before the next level can be achieved before entering the competition phase. This hierachical approach is implemented from the bottom up, until very specific conditioning is reached after a base endurance foundation has been laid. Concentrating on the specific exercise intensities allows maximisation of each level before moving to the next. The downside is that this format for training is time intensive, and requiring faster preparation in time for targeted events. The benefit of this periodisation format is that a cyclists training can be more easily tailored with training progression to achieve peak performance in multiple events.
Polarised periodisation is a new training paradigm which gives a cyclist the most time-efficient adaption to training load. The assumption that a polarised approach is highly effective, relies on the physiological observation that biochemical adaptations in the muscle caused by high intensity efforts also increase the power capacity at lower levels of the system. These conclusions stem from research results seen after multiple (6-8) 3-5 minute efforts at 80% Maximal Aerobic Power twice per week. Following just 4 weeks of this programme resulted in an average 4% increase in peak aerobic power output and 40km time trial performance. Although intervals at 90-100% VO2max are now recommended to reap the most benefits.
There are different types of polarised periodisation including normal, with greater intensity and lower volume training towards the end of a programme, and reverse, where intensity is introduced towards the start and tapers off throughout. The differences in effectiveness depend on the objectives and individual being trained.
What are the benefits of physiological testing?
From beginners to experienced racers, it’s never too early or late to start thinking about a well structured training programme, or even to re-assess the one you are currently on. Properly conducted physiological testing is instrumental in understanding how well or poorly your training is progressing, and avoids training stagnation or even over-training. Every level of competitor should be following the same scientific principles to get fitter and faster, more quickly, from general conditioning to specific conditioning and achieving prime performances.
The right decisions at the right times can be made from informative results, whether it’s a change in individualised training levels, better pacing strategies from critical power measurements and lactate threshold values or the choice of the right periodisation plan suited to your personal requirements and objectives. Physiological and functional performance assessments provide important information to optimise these plans and constantly steer training in the right direction.
I am a coach, how can you support me?
Aligned with British Cycling recommendations, we conduct robust and reproducible performance assessments which provide data rich biometric results to definitively profile your client. This gives you confidence in programme design based on their objective physiology, which may compliment or even substitute the need for an indepth analysis on historical training.
As experienced practitioners in performance training prescription and support, we can translate assessments to training and deliver recommendations to meet event demands for all levels of athlete, both cycling and running so you have peace of mind in taking your clients towards success.
Our online Training Peaks programmes are expertly designed for semi-tailored approach and are available for download by coaches and other practitioners. These are easily customised to an individuals specific needs and work/life/ training routine.