Time Course of Anaerobic Adaptations

Discussion in 'Power Training' started by gudujarlson, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    What is the time course of anaerobic adaptations? How long do they take to reach a peak? Weeks? Years?

    I have found some information about the time course of aerobic adaptations, but nothing on anaerobic adaptations. For example, this article by Dr Stephen Seiler suggests that, on average, vO2Max peaks in about 1 year, lactate threshold peaks in 3-4 years, and efficiency continues to rise even after 4 years.

    http://web.archive.org/web/20071015044756/http://home.hia.no/%7Estephens/timecors.htm

    Assuming that only a percentage of the adaptations are lost during the off-season, the time-to-peak for a trained individual is less than a year once training starts again. It appears that, because of this very short time course, training experts suggest waiting until 8-12 weeks before a competition to do high intensity intervals to maximize the aerobic system.

    But what about the anaerobic system? Is the time course also so short that doing anaerobic training outside the 8-12 week window is a waste of time? I'm guessing the answer is yes since training experts also suggest not doing anaerobic capacity intervals outside the 8-12 week window, but I have not able to find any explanation why.

    Is anything in cycling built over many years (e.g. 10-15) or is it entirely a short-term game?
     
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  2. frost

    frost New Member

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    There is at least one component in anaerobic capacity that can be build over longer time (muscle mass, whether is it advisable otherwise, is another story), but otherwise the adaptation time is in the low end of the spectrum thus the advice of putting the training effort towards the end of the training period.

    You have to note in those text book examples of adaptation periods that
    - mentioned peaking means achieving very high percentage of one's genetic potential, but adaptation still continues, though very slowly
    - they assume more or less full time training, ie. the period for a weekend warrior is much, much longer or most probably he/she never reaches the genetic potential
    - there is no limit (at least studied) for possible efficiency improvements

    And that cycling (as a competitive sport) is not only about fitness but eg. team, racing tactics, ability to read the race, utilise draft, equipment selection/aerodynamics make big part of the cyclists success.


    Edit: not exactly answering the question but here's a pretty good article concerning anaerobic interval training:
    http://coachsci.sdsu.edu/csa/vol71/billat3.htm
     
  3. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    Thanks for the article reference. That was a good read even if it didn't answer my question. One thing that confused me is that in some parts of the article the author seemed to be talking about bouts of 10-30 seconds (i.e. sprinting) and in other parts the author seemed to be talking about bouts of up to 5 minutes. Are those not different types of activities with a different set of systems, adaptations and training time courses? I am under the impression that the anaerobic area could be broken down into at least 2 sections often referred to as neuromuscular and anaerobic or L7 and L6. I was then guessing that L6 had a short time course and L7 a longer one because coaches often recommend L7 workouts year round, e.g. strength training, jumps, muscle-tension intervals (but not 10-30 second sprints for some reason).
     
  4. frost

    frost New Member

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    You are correct that 10-30 sec utlilises different energy path as 5 minute interval, but those five minute intervals were used as a reference to aerobic conditioning of sprinters, not directly related to the topic.

    Time course for the neural adaptation of L7 is fairly short and initial adaptations very, very quick, but one major difference comparing to eg. L6 is that it is very little taxing to metabolism if sprints are left very short (ie.< 10 seconds) therefore not restricting recovery like high intensity intervals do. In addition with dedicated training there's also hypertrophy adaptations that do not stall quickly (once again if hypertrophy actually is desirable for endurance cyclist is another story). That is probably a reason why they may be and are prescribed all year round.
     
  5. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    I find the evidence that the time course of L7 adaptations is short depressing. I've only been in the sport for 3 years and I am still sorting out my strengths and weaknesses. My baseline body type, thin upper body and muscular legs, suggests that I might make a good track sprinter, but my power profile suggests that L7 and L6 power are weaknesses. I was hoping they are weaknesses because of lack of training and not because of genetics. Perhaps my problem is that I have a large mass of type I fibers and few type II fibers. What good is a body that consists of heavy, slow, strong legs connected to a thin weak upper body powered by a tiny aerobic engine? Leg press competitions?
     
  6. frost

    frost New Member

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    Well, yes, even top success in any sport requires you to very carefully choosing your parents, it's especially that sprinters are born. Weak L6 (or 1 min in power profile) is very often due to inadequate testing. The difference between what you see for a hard short effort in a road race or a group ride may be literally hundreds of watts away from a dedicated test.

    Have you done dedicated testing and more importantly what is your routine for L6&L7 workouts?

    Wihtout seeing your actual numbers cannot say much about the size of the aerobic engine, but I definately wouldn't throw the towel yet. As you say, you are still sorting out your strenghts and weaknesses, which tells me that even you have three years of riding behind the development is only just begining.
     
  7. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    I have had 3 test days following a week of rest this season: one in May, one in June, and one in July, but my power profile is based on all my data including races. My races weren't much different than my tests or rides where the goal was to set a personal best. I think that might in part be because I was riding solo off the back the whole time in a demoralized state. A power profile made up my personal bests this season goes like this:

    5s 14.14 w/kg
    1m 6.76 w/kg
    5m 4.3 w/kg
    60m 3.26 w/kg

    I have weighed about 75kg all season.

    I've been basing my workouts on the 1st case study in Allen and Coggan's book because the imaginary rider shares the same approximate age, power profile, and goals. This was my routine last week. All of this was done by feel and heart rate because my power meter is currently broken.

    M Strength 1 hour
    T AM L3 1 hour
    T PM L2 + 3x1(1) 1 hour
    W AM L4 1 hour
    W PM L4 1 hour
    Th AM 9x30s(4) seated 1 hour
    Th PM L2/L1 1 hour
    F Rest day
    Sa Hard Group Ride 5 hours
    Su L2 + 10x10s sprints 3 hours
     
  8. frost

    frost New Member

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    Some more comments/questions:
    How have your numbers changed between tests?
    How does your overall training plan look like? Eg. trainingload, either in CTL, hours, kilometers/miles; possible periodisation, focus periods, or does every week look the same?
    Have you read the forum classic 'It's Killing me...'?

    Based on just one week this is obviously very short sighted and I am definately not saying that your workout week is bad but I would probably strip something away and put my concentration and effort to certain key area first keeping it very, very simple. The relation between your 5 and 60 min power tells that the focus would in FTP development and there is plenty to do. Assuming you are from the northern hemisphere and the racing season is over now would be a perfect time to start.

    'It's killing me...' is not only really inspirational but also having some real good training info, so unless you already have, start reading it. You may also want to seach for old threads with discussion about Sweet Spotting or SST. There are really good, practical approach writings by eg. daveryan and rapdaddyo, so you might also seach those.
     
  9. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    Peak FTP in 2011: 234w

    Test Results:

    3/24/2012: 5m and 20m tests

    5m 277w
    20m 222w

    5/8/2012: test protocol from Coggan and Allen

    5s 812w
    10s 773w
    20s 729w
    1m 302w +9%
    20m 246w +11%

    6/1/2012: test protocol from Coggan and Allen

    5s 886w +9%
    10s 856w +10%
    20s 790w +8%
    1m 492w +8%
    5m 319w +6%
    20m 257w +4%

    7/8/2012: test protocol from Coggan and Allen

    5s 897 +1%
    10s 814 -1%
    20s 760 +-0%
    1m 490 +-0%
    5m 322 +-0%
    20m (didn't complete)

    I think this was just an off day. I didn't feel strong and was not motivated.


    My weekly workouts are different each week. If you are familiar with the case study in Coggan and Allen's book you'll see a similar pattern. I didn't train that way until I read that book. Previously I was more likely to just ride as fast as I could until I got to work or I got tired. It amounted to a lot of steady state L4/L3 with short L5/L6 hill climbs. I found that it got boring and also fatiguing. I like how my current routine mixes it up a bit. I also have had the belief that it was more effective because:

    a) it worked several systems each week instead of pounding the same one every day in the same way leading to a plateau in that system.
    b) the time course of adaptations of each system are measured in years, thus if I want to be a well balanced cyclist in X years I better start training everything now.

    These beliefs could be wrong.

    I started training in earnest on 3/8. My CTL rose from 24 TSS in March to 100 TSS/day in late May and then leveled out. I started with about 3 weeks of L2 work and then moved into a plan based off the first case study in Coggan and Allen's book. My main modifications were to add 1 day of gym work and break the weekdays into 2 sessions; otherwise I followed it pretty closely. My volume was a bit higher because of the gym work, 2 hour weekdays, and generally longer weekend rides, but I kept the intensity about the same. The extra volume was mostly lower intensity stuff. Once I got into June I started doing a lot of events/races (e.g. 2 separate 4 day bike tours followed by long recoveries) and my training became more add-hoc. Starting last week I am making an effort to get back to something more structured. I want to do one more build and then test myself one last time before winter. Winter can mean no outside biking for months in Minnesota and I have never ridden a trainer for more than an hour. I might try out cyclocross too this fall.


    I read part of the 'It's killing me...', but not all of it. It is long. Upon you recommendation I will read some more of it.

    Ya, I'm aware I've done relatively little L4/L5 work compared to what I used to do. This is because there's relatively less of it in Coggan and Allen's case study. More recently I have started doing more L4 work. For example, I did 4x20 L4 followed by 1x30 L3 today. I decided to shift my focus after not being able to find a reason to train my anaerobic system outside the 8-12 week window. However, I still find if hard to believe that if I spent 10 years doing <= L4 that I could max out my anaerobic system in the last 8-12 weeks. It's just not intuitive to me. I'm at a loss.
     
  10. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    I realize that your workouts vary each week. But, over the course of a month, what is the relative percentage of training time by level? BTW, you can't use the WKO+ power distribution chart to compute this, because that is nothing more than a frequency distribution of power observations and doesn't take into account duration at power. The reason I ask is that based on the week you posted there is a relatively small percentage of L4 time. You use L4/L5 above, but I'm talking about L4 specifically. Or, if you want to expand the definition, it would be SST/L4 rather than L4/L5. Stated another way, how much of your training time is on efforts of a minimum duration of 10mins and a minimum intensity of 85%FTP? If you read more of the "Killing me..." thread, you will see that Tyson did L4s almost exclusively. I realize that your objective is to be a "well balanced cyclist," but I would suggest building your FTP as a first priority. SST and L4 efforts are the key to that. If you focus on building your FTP, you will see improvements across the entire duration-power curve with the exception of L7.
     
  11. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    I don't know the percentages, but there's only 1 sweet spot workout in the entire 16 week plan in the book and that's about what I did. There are several 100-105% FTP workouts in the plan and lots of L3 workouts, but it avoids sweet spot for some reason. Perhaps it's assumed that you've done a lot of sweet spot during base; which in my case I did not. I did all L2 in my brief base.

    I think if I am serious about doing a real base I need to discipline myself to use the trainer, because the snow doesn't normally disappear until March or April and the season starts in late April. Last winter was the one of the warmest on record, yet it stayed in the 20's much of February. I still managed to ride to work once in February just to say I did it. Training outside in February would have been painful. I need to HTFU or move south.
     
  12. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    By contrast, L4 constitutes about 50% of my total training time year round. IOW, about half the time I am on my bike I am doing 10+min durations at 91%+FTP. I think you'll find this is pretty common for serious cyclists (excluding some track disciplines).
     
  13. frost

    frost New Member

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    I don't have much to add to what RDO says. Right now I would focus on SST/L4 work and keep everything else minimum. Of course I might be totally wrong but I have a bit of feeling that you might give up a bit of concentration and workout quality by having too many different type of workouts. Stripping AWC workouts as well as getting rid of recovery rides and putting 100% focus on SST/L4 for a while you would most probably see very good overall development even the training is more simple.
     
  14. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    I agree that it makes sense to focus on raising my threshold with <=L4 work at point in the year. I don't have any races planned and it I can't find anything that says training L5, L6 or L7 now will help me in April/May. Ironically, the SST/L4 protocol you describe is basically how I used to train until Joe Friel, Hunter Allen, and Andrew Coggan essentially talked me out of it with their books. The one thing that is different is that I didn't have any goals for each ride. I would just ride as hard as I could until I felt like going home. It amounted to a lot time spent in L4. In end all that matters is that I find something that works for me. It doesn't matter if it works for someone else. The power meter is a great tool for finding that optimal personal plan.

    [Edit: it would be more accurate to say that I talked myself out of such training after reading their books.]
     
  15. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    I went back and looked in Training and Racing with a Power Meter and it does in indeed discuss doing SST workouts in base. As a typical ansy beginner I skipped right over that part to get to the fun stuff.

    I also noted that there are no 4x20's in the workout cookbook. The longest is a 2x20 and they mention that they only recommend longer SST interval workouts for CAT II racers and above. Since a 2x20 is not a very long workout, I presume they would recommend longer L2/L3 workouts on the weekends during base. I think that would work for me. Even though a 4x20 is no big deal for me (at least not at this point in the season), I'm not sure I want to do 15-20 hrs/week of SST intervals.

    I have to say that I find it a bit depressing that I will probably never see a 1000+ watt 20s sprint even with years of work. I did quite of sprint work this year and improved my sprint by less than 1% over last year and last year I never trained it explicitly.

    This might be a misconception of mine, but why can strength athlete's get stronger and stronger year after year, but neuromuscular power on the bile peaks after 8-12 weeks? That's still not intuitive to me.
     
  16. frost

    frost New Member

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    You start to sound like being on the track. Quite typical approach would be to hit L4-workouts during week, simply because most of us have to work to pay our living and hobbies or study to eventually do that during weekdays and time is limited, but then over the weekend there is more room for longer workouts and since you can either go hard for short time or little bit easier for a long time, weekends are ideal for longer L2/L3 group rides.

    With weekends gaining lots of workload with long rides, monday becomes quite natural rest day putting the threshold efforts to tuesday and thursday, with a bit easier ride between them on wednesday. The thing about concentration and focus I've mentioned relates to you saying that 4x20 is not a big deal. It is. Put more effort and focus to do 2x20 properly first. Quality over quantity (even quantity at some point becomes very important).Target the first inteval a bit under your FTP, say 95%, then for the second, if you feel good, you can give it a go. Start easy, 10% under the target power and wind up to the target during the first 5 minutes.

    NMP peak in 8-12 weeks is relates to activating the N-part. At weight room you may gain more strenght by adding muscle mass. Still what you can gain with larger muscle mass on saddle is limited because it doesn't translate quicker muscle contraction that is the thing in NMP.

    Just out of curiosity, what does your sprint workout look like?

    And speaking of that, now that you are simplifying the workout routine for some time (I'd say give it at least 6 weeks and then evaluate how the things are going) I'd skip the gym too at least for a that while to give room for extra recovery.
     
  17. gudujarlson

    gudujarlson New Member

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    Well, the 4x20 SST seems easy compared to the 100-105% intervals I have been doing all summer, but I did at most 2 of those a week.

    My sprint workouts are modeled after the one in Training and Racing with a Power Meter. I start out with short sprints in low gears and work up to flying sprints in a high gear. I was also doing a lot of tempo workouts with 8-10 second submaximal NP bursts as described in the book. Although in the end this did not increase my personal best 5, 10, and 20 second power over 2011, it did teach me how to shift gears out of the saddle. Before that I was scared to shift in those situations. I would sit down, shift, and then stand back up. However, I just recently read a post on here that recommended never shifting during a group sprint for safety concerns. Doh!

    BTW, my personal best 5, 10, and 20s power was never reached during a sprint workout or performance test. I can easily reach a higher average power by coasting down a long hill and punching it at the bottom. This allows me to remain in the optimal cadence range longer without shifting. Going up a slight incline works about the same in theory, but my bests have always been on the flat after a downhill.

    My gym workouts are not intended to improve my cycling. I do them for overall fitness and health. Albeit, I have wondered if they might help my sprinting. I do a mixture of functional movement and core strengthening exercises, e.g.. deadlifts, power cleans, hanging snatches, kettle bell squats, push ups, hanging straight leg raises, pistols, pull ups, plyometrics, etc. Every once in a while I throw a bunch of weight on the leg press machine to see what I can do, but otherwise avoid isolated leg stuff.
     
  18. RapDaddyo

    RapDaddyo Active Member

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    Sprinting is three separate questions. The first question is how to increase your NMP. The second question is how to find your optimal sprint cadence range. The third question is how and when to deploy your sprint in a race. As a caveat to what follows, I don't consider myself to be a strong sprinter. My unfit max 5sec power is about 850W and my fit max 5sec power is about 1250W. My experience is there are lots of guys out there with 1500+W max power. I'm just hoping they lose some top end power as they age.

    The answer to the first question is pretty simple. Just add some 5-20 second max power efforts to your workout schedule. I don't think you need to devote an entire workout to L7s, and I almost never do. Typically, I throw in 2-5 5sec efforts at the end of a ride several times a week. I am typically riding at a pretty easy pace for the last 10-15 mins of a ride, so it works out nicely. I'll do 5sec at full power and then ride at about 150W for 5 mins, and repeat until I get home. These short efforts don't change the ride numbers very much, they don't change the need for rest or recovery, and there is little risk of muscle injury because my muscles are well warmed up from my ride. It doesn't really matter whether you are on the flat or not or going upwind or downwind, although it's easier uphill or upwind because you don't spin out the gear. But, it's pretty hard to spin out a gear in 5secs. From trial and error, I know that my peak power is generated in the 100-150RPM range, so I start my sprints at about 100RPM. Unless you're going pretty slow, it's hard to increase your speed by 50% in 5secs.

    The answer to the second question is also pretty simple. Find a hill with a constant grade. You want some natural resistance so the bike doesn't accelerate so much when you go to full power. Start off in a big gear where your peak power is about 50-60RPM. Do repeats with 5min rest durations at different gearing all the way up peak power at about 150RPM (if you can). Then study your ride file. I think you'll find that your peak power is not constant across the spectrum of cadence. If I were to launch a sprint at 60-70 RPM, I would accelerate like a dump truck.

    The answer to the third question is very complex, but there are two things you can do to improve your performance. First, learn (as discussed above) your peak power cadence range and get in a gear that puts you in the bottom end of that range as you near the finish. If you get in the right gear, you shouldn't need to shift because you are not going to increase speed by 40-50% in 5secs. Second, learn to judge the distance you will travel in 5secs at finishing speeds (e.g., 25-30mph). You can do this on the road with telephone poles or other equally spaced landmarks. Most riders launch their sprint too soon. You will know where to launch when you can judge how far you'll travel in 5secs at sprint speed.
     
  19. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    +1 on the post above, but I'd add the following:

    Positioning into the final 200 meters or out of the final crit corner is perhaps the most important part of 'sprinting' and the part most folks struggle with. Sure work on snap, acceleration, 5 second power, gear choice and all of that but if you're not reliably coming into the sprint in the top three to five riders then it's likely not your 5 second MMP that's holding you back.

    Positioning at the end is a combination of AWC, tactics, assertiveness, confidence, quick mental reaction to things like surges, slowing, holes opening up and enough freshness in the legs after all the racing leading up to those final meters (which translates to FTP and smart racing). Too many folks are tentative in the final kilometers, unwilling to stick their nose out in the wind or fight to stay forward and then wonder why they can't 'sprint'. If you're still figuring out this part of the game then get to the front and lead out a few sprints, sure someone will likely pass you at the line but get accustomed to being up front and fighting to stay up front and then work on being a bit cagier as you get good at establishing and defending a forward late race position.

    -Dave
     
  20. bgoetz

    bgoetz Member

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    I will follow Dave's comments up with my observation as someone who had a good sprint moving through the ranks last season. My sprint worked well to win races as I progressed through Cat 3, heading into this season I decided to focus on becoming a better timetrialist and worked on lots of L3/L4. This unintentionally hindered my sprint, but made me strong as heck in comparison to my peers. Moving up quickly, I lacked race tactics, so while I felt like I should have won lots of races, I typically found myself in the top 5-8 because of what I lost as a sprinter and my inability to use my power to it's full potential. Eventually, I gained enough points to race in the pro/1/2 catagory. Guess what, most of the guys that were winning due to their "good" sprints as a 3, don't finish these races, they are that hard. Me, I now can utilize my strength to finish races along with whatever kick I can muster at the end to finish in the money a decent amount of time. Most of these races just don't finish in a field sprint and if they do the guys that win those are the guys who can crank out 600+ watts for the last minute of a race and cap it off with a 1500+ watt kick. They also have the mentality of a WW II Japanese fighter pilot when it comes to hitting the deck, so you don't even want to cross wheels with them. My opinion is, if you want to progress in the sport, build the power of a diesel engine and learn to win that way. It may take longer to move up, but you will be better for it.
     
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