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descriptions of various effort levels?(7 posts)

descriptions of various effort levels?DougSloan
Oct 13, 2003 8:21 AM
Is there some commonality of lingo used to describe effort levels while cycling? I realize that some seem obvious, but others there may be a bit of ambiguity. This might be particularly important when being coached or advising someone else. Here are some terms and my understanding of them; let me know if yours differ or if there are additional important terms:

*sprint - 100% effort; as fast as you can possible go at that moment; heart rate (HR) is irrelevant; can sustain for maybe 10-20 seconds; usually standing for accelleration and seated for top out spinning at high rpms

*wind up (to a sprint) - just short of sprint; about 95% up to 100% effort; lead out pace for sprinters; can sustain for maybe a minute; HR almost irrelevant

*LT/AT - (lactate/anaerobic threshold) maximum average effort for a 10 mile to 25 mile time trial; breathing very hard; somewhat painful as time passes; 10 mile HR slightly over LT HR, 25 mile HR under; will change over time with fitness level; lactic acid being produced at high levels, but being disposed of at near equal rate; might be climbing pace for long climbs

*tempo - steady, but higher effort than steady state, not sustainable for long distances; breathing hard, but still able to talk; will become increasingly difficult to maintain as time passes; 80% to 90% of max HR, but under LT; (probably the most ambiguous term, I've found)

*steady state - maximum speed sustainable indefinitely (200 miles to RAAM), given sufficient training, food, and water; typically about 70% of max HR or 80% of LT; breathing somewhat deeply, but not hard; LSD (long slow distance) rate; all aerobic

*noodle/warmup/warmdown - minimal effort; moving the legs around with almost no effort; could freely talk, sing, etc.; HR likely about 1/2 of max


From Fred Matheny's Complete Book of Road Bike training...innergel
Oct 13, 2003 8:42 AM

Interesting you posted this today. I just got this book and read the lingo chapter on Saturday.
Oct 13, 2003 9:11 AM
Those are good, but not quite as detailed as I'd like; for example, "tempo: fast riding at a brisk cadence". That could cover a wide range of riding. Thanks.

Roadrace finish line sprints? Track sprints?Humma Hah
Oct 13, 2003 8:45 AM
I think sprints last longer than 10-20 seconds. One lap of a velodrome is 1/3 km, and a sprint may start before the last lap. And spooling up speed is part of the sprint and is max effort. At full speed (about 1 km/minute), that last lap will take 20 seconds, so I think most track sprints will be 20 seconds or a little longer, maybe 30-40.

I haven't watched enough roadrace finish line sprints long enough to judge their time, but the few I've seen look like they start 1 km or more from the finish, so will last a minute or longer.

Either way, the terminology I use to characterize the after effects of a 100% sprint is "I'm gasping for air like a fish and my tongue is hanging into the front spokes."
Oct 13, 2003 9:15 AM
I'm thinking in terms of effort level, not so much an event description. I recall from my running days that the maximum time a trained human can sustain maxiumum effort is about 30 seconds, and that's when fresh. So, the 400 meter (my event) was not at max effort. Close, but if you went all out from the start, you'd lock up and die 50 yards from the finish. A 200 meter, you could easily sprint the whole way.

However, on a bike, context is a little different. On the track, even the sprinters don't sprint the whole way in a match sprint. In the flying 200, yes. I'm not sure of distances raced between 200 and 500 meters. In a road race, you certainly aren't fresh at the end. I doubt anyone can sustain 100% effort for 30 seconds after 50-100 miles.

re: descriptions of various effort levels?asgelle
Oct 13, 2003 9:20 AM
For a detailed description of one scheme of defining levels see

This gives the definition of levels in terms of power, heart rate and description as well as the expected physiological responses from riding at the various levels.
those look very good; thanksDougSloan
Oct 13, 2003 9:40 AM
I've passed that page on to my coach. Thanks.