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Bicycling Magazine - LT article accurate???(14 posts)

Bicycling Magazine - LT article accurate???JoeBob
Feb 6, 2002 10:12 AM
Has anyone read the latest issue? There's an article about how to have your best year ever. There's one part of the article that talks about using LT instead of max heartrate to base your training on. It then discusses how to find your lactate threshold heartrate (LTHR). It says your one hour timetrial time is 115% of LTHR. I've alsways read (Friel, etc.) that it's more like 100-104% of LTHR, depending on whether it's a race or nonrace situation.
re: Bicycling Magazine - LT article accurate???Ozzie
Feb 6, 2002 5:53 PM
While I haven't seen the article yet, I would be very cautious about basing anything around standardised formulas.

Here in Oz we have a guy who does physiological tests for cyclists based on AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) protocols.

By completing a ramp test in 35-watt steps and taking blood at each level and getting a lactate reading he is able to accurately gauge your LT and AT points as well as power at each level.

After my first test I was shocked at how different they were from all previous calculations and formulas. 220 - minus age was way out. Even using HR reserve it was way out.

My AT is 90% of my max at 4 units of lactate per.

Since getting this data and subsequent tests my training, power and racing have improved exponentially. Slowly but surely I'm dropping the guys I used to only just keep with.

I've included a link to the Australian site but I'm sure someone near you will offer the testing you need. I think it’s the only REAL way to get accurate data for your highly individual physiology. All other methods and formulas are approximate and often conflicting.

Feb 7, 2002 7:29 AM
What do you attribute your improvement in power output to? I assume you haven't increased your LT--90% is quite high. Higher seasonal VO2 peaks? Pedaling efficiency? Weight loss?

I'm interested in the different factors that influence power output beyond the normal VO2max x LT formula...

Oh, and as far as the original question goes, I agree. Lance A. time trials at 1.06 x his LTHR due to a wierd concept called lactate steady state. So depending on your fitness and motivation, the TT formula could be off as much as 20%.
Kyle: Please clarify.Len J
Feb 7, 2002 8:09 AM
I get an LT of 177 by using Freil's TT formula. Are you telling me that my LT could be as low as 142? (80% of 177)

Pleas elaborate as I am trying to train in the correct zones & your statement has me worried. How would you suggest LT be determined (for someone who can't get a medical test)?


Definitions of LTJon Billheimer
Feb 7, 2002 8:25 AM
Some of the confusion in these kinds of conversations arises from the fuzziness of the concept itself. LT can be defined as lactate steady state, onset of blood lactate accumulation, lactate threshold as defined by 4mmol lactic acid per litre of blood, etc. One study, using OBLA as a definition found that athlete's LT varied from about 4mmol up to 8mmol! Because of this Veronique Billat has written a scathing critique of the whole concept, suggesting it's relatively useless as a training tool unless everyone can get their definitions straight. But then she's one of these obsessive-compulsive science types bent on getting everything exactly right!:-)
No need to worry...Kyle
Feb 7, 2002 9:16 AM
all these numbers are just guideline and the data on this heart rate or that creating more/faster adaptations is somewhere between shaky and non-existant. Lance A, I believe does his aerobic rides at a rediculously low HR--somewhere in the 120s I think I read. Seems to work for him.

To steal from Jon's post, the difference between, say, OBLA and Lactate Steady State can be pretty substantial, so depending on which you use, it could change your zone calculation significantly. Also, your motivation level is an enormous factor in a TT. People's definitions of 'going really hard' can vary quite a bit.

And then there's a question of duration. Should you go harder if you have only an hour to train (overload principle) than you would if you had 5 hours? Probably. And how does one deal with the thermoregulatory effects on HR in different ambient temperatures? And if you're an obsessive HR monitor watcher, are you accounting for cardiac drift?

Here's a really weird one. I do my indoor aerobic rides on a trainer that keeps power output constant regardless of cadence. My average HR at 190 watts will vary from 137 (listening to Ministry) to 130 (listening to Learn to Speak Spanish tapes.)

So don't get too worked up about this stuff. Aerobic rides should be a fairly hard, constant grind that leaves you a little out of breath, but no so much that you can't have a reasonable conversation. Kind of unscientific, I know, but there's something to be said for the perceived effort scale.
Improving Power Output: a Novel ApproachJon Billheimer
Feb 7, 2002 8:29 AM

In your investigation of performance enhancing techniques, check out an article by John Howard entitled "Ultrazoom" at, then go to Ian Jackson's website at for more info. This approach is not for dilettantes, but it is highly original and some very high profile athletes have achieved extraordinary results.
Feb 7, 2002 10:19 AM
I'd never seen this stuff but I would guess there's something to it. I mentioned in my above post that my HR runs about 7bpm lower if I listen to Spanish tapes--I think I'm concentrating so hard on understanding what the people are saying that I achieve some kind of half-a$$ed meditative state. Imagine if you could do the same thing at LT--another 7bmp to play with on a TT could be the difference between 1st and last place.

Worse is my HR average on the local Tues. night ride. I think I'm so nervous about getting dropped by the stronger riders that if the ride averaged 12mph, I'd still finish exhausted...
breathing and HRTig
Feb 12, 2002 11:27 AM
I've been playing around with my breathing during harder AT rides and can see positive results. By concentrating more on smooth, yet deliberate exhaling, I've seen my HR drop from 5-10 beats. I started this almost by accident one day when I noticed my HR wasn't lowering much after a pull in the paceline. The pace was brisk into the wind, but not impossible to hold onto. Resting in the draft one time, I started concentrating on my breathing more and noticed the drop in HR. This is basic, fundamental stuff, but when we are busy in a hard training ride or even a race, it is easy to forget. When riding solo or on a trainer (no, I don't use a trainer), it's easier to concentrate more on breathing. I believe that learning to automatically do so in a group is harder, but more important.

The BreathPlay CD's sounds interesting. The John Howard article in let me know I need to work on my breathing more than I am already doing.
Answer for KyleOzzie
Feb 7, 2002 5:08 PM
Hey Kyle et al

Sorry for the delay in replying but its the time zones thing.

I'd put my improvements down to training correctly, following the stats that I have got through the tests. While it is correctly pointed out that LT is a moving thing my personal level is calculated by the total lactate level at max (100% HR) versus the increase as the ramp test progresses. A steepening curve. I generally cross and start accumulating at around 4 units. If you concentrate especially on the spinner, once you have a rough idea where the LT lives you can feel it happening to within a few beats.

The power gains are due to increased efficiency of my muscles for a given level of lactate for the amount of power produced at a given (and regularly trained) heart rate. Following on from a general improvement in condition I have also been riding hills a fair bit, staying in the saddle and using a bigger than normal gear. This is still all within my zones. I did a period of weights too back in July/Aug.

Weight wise I only weigh 65kg (143lb) and struggle to keep a reasonable body fat +/- 7%, so I don't have anywhere to go here.

Interestingly the greatest gains were in the areas that I trained the most. While peak power improved a bit, 7% (due to a bigger base and mid range) mid range (E2a/b) has improved around 10% in 6 months.

Despite all the different opinions out there and various definitions I'd say physiological tests are the way to go, everything else is approximate. Most interestingly the absolute limiter is max strength. Everything else is second to the absolute amount of weight you can shift and still be fit and fast on the bike.

Happy riding, I'd be happy to discuss this further.

Bicycling Magazine SMAshirt
Feb 7, 2002 9:39 AM
No (great) offense to anybody that likes it, but I have yet to read a single article in Bicycling Mag that contains any valuable information whatsoever.

"We love bikes! We are Quirky and filled with joie de vivre! This makes us Superior to other people! We test ten mountain bikes from Target and Toys R' Us! Ten ways to make your legs look really sexy!"


The sources listed by others in this thread will be far more useful for you.
I don't know, I kinda liked the sexy legs article.allervite
Feb 7, 2002 1:32 PM
Seriously though. I burned out on all of the supermarket glossy cycling mags a long time ago, but if I am on a trip and cannot find cycle pro, velo news, dirt rag or cycle sport, I choose Bicycling as the lesser of the other evils.
Sometimes these things come trueMcAndrus
Feb 7, 2002 1:51 PM
I met the best legs in the ladies category last year on a 4-day ride. Didn't know it was her until someone else mentioned it.

And yes, she did have great legs.
The untechnical responseallervite
Feb 7, 2002 2:43 PM
I think the thing to remember here is that Bicycling is geared towards casual riders and Friel's book is geared towards racers. A casual rider will have a lower LT (115% of 1 hour TT) than a racer 100-104%.