Fit to race?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by james.dippel, Jun 10, 2003.

  1. james.dippel

    james.dippel New Member

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    Just after some general information...

    I know the best way to get into racing is to take part in small events and build up, however, I would like to get a general opinion on the level I need to enter at:

    I'm 5'11" and 150Lbs. Currently I have about 3% bodyfat and a VO2 Max of 80. Morning resting heart rate is 34.

    Please can someone give me feed back and advice.

    Many thanks.
     
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  2. Vo2

    Vo2 Member

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    Put it this way mate: you are either extremely fit or you need to find yourself another doctor (or whoever did the measurements).
    Lance Armstrong has a VO2ml/kg of 83.8, and a resting HR of between 32 and 34. I'm not sure what his BMI is, but I don't think it's as low as 3% body fat.
    If the stats you mention are correct, then you are difinitely a highly trained athlete, and whatever training program you are following, it's working. Which area are you from? Have you considered contacting a coach in your area?
     
  3. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    James,

    The values you have published if correct would suggest that you have the potential to be a very good cyclist. Your Body Mass Index is 20.6 which is at the low end of normal, your body fat is very low (and my be too low (i.e. detremental to both your performance and health)), your VO2 max (if ml/kg/min) is very high (i.e. tour de france levels) which suggests that you are already well trained and while your RHR is low at 34 this value gives no indication of your performance capability.

    In terms of starting racing, you need to start at the bottom and work up. If you read the 'winning races' thread you will realise its not all about physiology. From the values you have quoted you will be most suited to endurance events, like road races, time trials, MTB or track endurance events. If you are physiologicaly gifted you will move through the ranks quickly.

    To put a downer on things for a newcomer to cycling (as your post suggests) your values are towards the limits of what could be expected for a trained rider, runner or cross country skiier and this leads me to beleive that they might be a bit out. It would be good if you could let us know how they have been measured.

    VO2 max needs to be measured in a lab directly, as prediction tests (i.e. submaximal, where oxygen is not measured, polar test, out of a magazine) are very unreliable.

    Body fat measurements are also inaccuarte, calipers can be as much as 10% out, electrical impedance even more. Again body fat needs to be measured by someone that knows what they are doing and not in a gym or on bathroom scales that measures body fat.

    Good luck in your cycling.
     
  4. james.dippel

    james.dippel New Member

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    I have been in training for over 10 years now. Most of my training was in the gym - for 8 of those 10 years I spend 40 minutes on a Stairmaster everyday. I only got into riding 4 years ago when I took up the saddle in a Mountain Bike. When not in the gym at the weekends I was out riding.

    My VO2 max was measured by the Polar S810 I own that allows heart rate to be recorded a RR intervals. This method, I'm told has a potential of +/- 8% error. You seem very sceptical of this measurement method, however, it seems a VERY good indication and articles verify such. To back it up - the technogym stairmaster I use has a fitness test as one program - on the wall in the gym is post the P.I (Physical Index) table. The machine runs from 0-99. 0-10 is poor, 10-20 is average, 20-30 is good and 30-40 is excellent. I have seen scores of 96-99 on this machine every workout. It has a level 1-12 and I use 12 without getting out of breath. I believe this to be a fairly good method as it takes into account age, weight and most importantly heart rate. My body fat has been measure in various gyms by trained staff. My HRmax is 181 - probably irrelevent in the grand scheme.

    Also, my friends who have used the VO2 test on the polar 810 verify my reading. The VO2 reading agrees with the first and last person up a hill!

    I live in Oxford, England close to an 80 mile trail called 'The Ridgeway'. It has some very good climbs on the roads up to it.


    p.s. *I* believe Lance has a BMI of 22-23.
     
  5. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    That's great James. There shouldn't be anything to hold you back from racing. Just jump in at the deep end... a 2/3s road race or similar MTB race. British Cycling www.britishcycling.org.uk will help you find a race.

    With regards to testing, there really isn't any substitute for an appropriate (perhaps an exercise and physiology) lab where procedures are routinely carried out and quality control procedures are in place. Fortunately I have access to equipment that measures oxygen (and so VO2 max) directly so haven't had to use the polar to estimate this. You can also get a list of labs from BC or www.BASES.org.uk and don't forget the importance of lactate threshold.

    Although I am unable to assess the quality of your gym instructors, it was only 6 months ago that the BBC reported how badly qualified gym instructors are in the UK. Many courses (and I appreciate not all) are less than one week in length/one weekend and after going on the course instructors are expected to perform a range of functions from cleaning toilets to developing programs that reduce blood pressure in 80 year old women. Instructors in other countries are required to take much longer and more formal qualifications before instructing people in exercise. I wouldn't even trust my doctor to use calipers on me! I would check the qualifications of your gym instructors and also check what data you are being compared to when you are given predicted values; norm data needs to come from a population that represents you, not the whole population or just men or even just all men of your age. A good instructor will be able to inform you of the limitations of the test being performed.

    Given that you find the gym so easy now it might be good for you to progress your training or make it more specific with more time spent on the road or in the woods. This will help you get even fiter and as VO2 suggests... a coach might help.

    With regards BMI, it may be correct that Lance has a BMI of 22-23. In reality, BMI has little use other than telling you whether or not you are underweight, normal or overweight compared to the normal population. With this information you can decide whether you are at risk of respirtory (underweight) or cardiovascular illness (overweight). People from athletic populations are normaly outside this e.g. body builders often have massive BMI's but are at no risk of CHD unless they take steroids and the like. Endurance cyclists tend to have very low BMI's simply because they carry little fat or muscle, again they are at low risk of CHD or respiratory illness.

    The reason that I state that your low body fat may be a problem is that men and women have non essential body fat and essential body fat. For men it is often quoted that 3% body fat is essential and when body fat drops below this many processes in the body can start to go pear shaped, fat is also used to store some vitamins, insulation, crash protection, the production of cell membranes, hormones, etc. these factors can effect health and performance when fat gets too low. I would advise you to monitor your body fat closely if it really is that low.

    Back to the original question, just go racing... it can help to choose races unaffected by tactics when you start (particularly when you are fit) as this allows you to have success faster.

    For coaches contact RicStern (a moderator of this forum), BC Coaching and Education or www.abcc.freeserve.co.uk.

    Looking forward to seeing you on the start line.
     
  6. ric_stern/RST

    ric_stern/RST New Member

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    As 2 Lap has previously mentioned, the S810 (and other similar devices) does not provide accurate data for VO2 max. Trained gym staff, may also not be able to provide accurate information on body fat %. With a reading of 3% you'd be exceedingly lean (and this would be highly likely to be detrimental to health) as an idea the top pros are about 6% body fat, which they can only maintain for short periods of time (e.g., during a grand tour).

    If you want accurate data on both your VO2 max, and body fat %, your best bet is to seek out a sports science lab, and/or a qualified coach who has access to either the correct instrumentation or a lab.

    Finally, none of these figures are massively important, the most important thing to ascertain in terms of (potential) performance is to find out your sustainable power output (e.g., for ~ 1-hr) and your power output at the end of a maximal incremental test to exhaustion.

    Ric
     
  7. james.dippel

    james.dippel New Member

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    Thank you all for your replies - especially 2LAP - your advice/information is of great use and your comments are very constructive. Thank you again.

    James.
     
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