Jul 27 2011

Heart Rate Zone Breakdown

In yesterday’s article, I went over the procedure for the lactate threshold test.  When you have your heart rate (HR), you can now find each exact zone.  There are a total of 5 zones and each one can be utilized for individual workouts.

Let’s break down each one:

Zone 1 – Under 83% of Lactate Threshold – This is mostly a recovery zone.  You can use this for warm up, cool downs and for active recovery at the end of the week.  The fuel source is fat.

Zone 2 – 83% to 89% – This range of HR is great for longer aerobic workouts to build your cardiovascular foundation.  At this HR, people who haven’t trained much will see the heart is learning to pump blood more efficiently and oxygen uptake improved.  Just like in the first zone, fat is still a major supplier of energy.

Zone 3 – 89% to 93% – Now you are starting to get into the higher end of the aerobic portion.  Once you get past this point, things switch from the fuel source being fat, to more and more carbohydrates. However, by staying in this HR range, the body eventually begins to use fat more than glucose to use energy more proficiently.  You will see improvements in both duration and intensity in your cardio from training in this zone frequently.

Zone 4 – 93% to 100% – When you reach this level, the body converts from fats to carbohydrates as the fuel source.  The body can no longer supply the skeletal muscles with enough oxygen, so there is a buildup of lactic acid.  You are now reaching the anaerobic threshold.  To train in this HR zone, you must make sure the duration is short like in intervals.  The longer you spend in the zone, the better you will be able to tolerate the lactic acid.

Zone 5 – 100% and above – This is the equivalent of holding the throttle wide open on your bike.  You fatigue quickly and lactic acid is builds up extremely quickly.  The fuel source is only carbohydrates and not many people can stay in this zone for very long.

With all of the zones and percentages laid out, you should be able to train smarter, not harder.  You don’t have to kill yourself in order to build a solid aerobic base.  The rule of thumb to remember is that the higher the intensity, the lower the duration.

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Jul 26 2011

Lactate Threshold Testing

Moto is quite the dynamic sport.  When training we have to worry about strength, balance, technique and countless other variables.  However, without a solid base of cardiovascular endurance, you won’t have enough steam to push through the whole race.  In my previous article a little bit ago, I wrote about aerobic progression and how to change you training during the year.  In order to find the correct heart rate (HR) zone to train in, you really need to perform a lactate threshold test.

Lactate threshold is simply the point at which your body switches from fat to carbohydrate for fuel.  In the lower HR ranges, the body uses fat because of the easy breakdown for energy.  This is also the point where things switch from aerobic to anaerobic.  The aerobic zones can supply enough oxygen to the skeletal muscles, while anaerobic zones require more oxygen than the body can provide.  This results in a lactate acid build up.

To begin, you must be warmed up properly as this test requires everything you have.  The lactic acid build up will give you that deep burn and it will not be an easy test.  Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes then do some dynamic stretching.  For modes of testing, the best three choices are spin bikes, running, and rowing.  Here are the procedures for all three:

Spin Bike:

Duration: 45 minutes

Start light with some sprints to get the HR up for 15 minutes.  At the end of the 15 minutes, start an all out race effort.  Then 10 minutes in, hit your heart rate monitor to begin recording your HR for the next 20 minutes.  When the test is over, record the average heart rate for the last 20 minutes.


Duration: 45 minutes

Same as spin bike.


Duration: 60 minutes

Because rowing uses more muscle mass than spinning and running, the procedure will be a little different.  You want to do 3 sets of 8 minutes as hard as you can with 10 minutes between sets.  Average all the HR’s and you have your lactate threshold hold.

Once you have the HR, you can now determine your zones for training.  This is extremely useful when doing recovery rides and intervals.  Tomorrow I will list the zones and HR’s for each zone.

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Jul 22 2011

Dynamic Stretching

One thing that frustrates me at the gym is when people do not take the time to properly stretch.  They do one warm up set then jump into the routine.  Proper stretching before strenuous activity can improve strength, power and most importantly, flexibility.  By prepping the body for this movement, you can also avoid a wide array of injuries.

The best type of stretching before workouts and riding is called dynamic stretching.  This is basically a rapid, exaggerated movement.  For example, doing arm circles and arm swings loosen up the glenohumeral joint (shoulder) and pectorals.  Walking lunges stretch out quads, hamstrings, and the hips.  Studies have shown that static stretching (holding a stretch for 20 – 30 seconds) can actually reduce your strength by 15%.  When the track gets rough, you want all the strength you can muster.

The best thing about this type of stretching is that it is more sport specific.  You are using more muscle groups in a movement similar to the activity ahead and in everyday life.  This is all functional based and should progress with your training as you become more flexible.  Do not always stretch to the same point; try to go a little bit further each workout.

Try this when you warm up for your next workout:

  • Sideways Leg Swing
  • Forward Leg Swing
  • Bent Over Torso Twist
  • Forward Lunge with Torso Twist
  • Arm Swing

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Jul 19 2011

Championship Mentality

I get a lot of inspiration from the races each weekend. I really believe that watching the best racers is one of the most effective ways to get faster. However, not only can you observe techniques and line choices, but you can also see exactly what it takes to win a championship. At the end of the Supercross season, I had a new respect for Chad Reed and after this weekend I have converted into a Reed fan.

A few years ago, it seemed as though Chad would complain about everything. In my personal opinion, he was pissed because he was getting beat straight up by Carmichael then Stewart. When he created his own team, I had my doubts. Yet, he seemed to change completely. You could see it in his interviews and demeanor on the podium. He seemed to enjoy what he was doing again.

The ridiculous crash at Millville was one that no one will forget. What Reed did after falling from the stratosphere amazed me: he got up, brushed himself off and limped to his bike. The Aussie then went back out and made his way to 14th. Are you kidding me? I am pretty sure I have never seen more heart in my entire life.

He just epitomized what motocross is in about 30 seconds. He has proved to everyone that is ready to fight to the end for this championship and I think any racer that is serious about moto should look at this scenario. I am not saying you are not serious unless you pull something off like Reed’s skydiving attempt, but committing to something takes more than saying you want it. Whether it is the atmosphere of his team, equipment or his son Tate, Chad has found a combination that he needed.

Any racer can look at where Reed was a few years ago and see how well he is doing now. He seemed like he was frustrated with his program and just couldn’t find that extra bit of speed. Now he is fighting to stay in the points lead after the biggest crash since Doug Henry’s. If you are feeling burnt out or you are not motivated to ride, step back and look at your situation. Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? Is someone else putting too much pressure on you? When you find what the problem is, you can eliminate it and start moving forward again.

Remember why you ride and that is to have a good time. Reed is riding like it is the last time he will ever throw a leg over a bike. Don’t take this for granted. When you start having fun again, that intrinsic motivation comes out and drives you to become the best. That is where the heart comes in. You get back on your bike after a wreck because you want to finish and do your best, not idle back to the truck. And with Loretta’s coming in a few weeks, this is not the time to slack off. Hard work and dedication pay off and Chad Reed just demonstrated that.

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Jul 15 2011

Traversing Flat Corners

One of the great things about a worn down track is the help from ruts and berms.  Sure they can make things difficult, but they essentially help us keep our speed up in the corners.  Just like in NASCAR, the angled surface allows the bike to lean over and still find plenty of traction.  However, there are situations where you don’t always have this luxury and you must bring out your inner flat tracker.

Since you don’t have any help with your leaning, the entrance needs to be a little bit different.  When approaching the corner, take a wider approach than you normally would.  If you have ever watched any kind road racing, drives use wide lines that are smooth arcs.  Traction is very important here, so you want to get all of your braking done before you start to lean in.  When you are upright, the tires have the most bite for better braking.  Just like normal turns, you want to be in the attack position and keep looking ahead.

When it comes time to sit down, remember that this is one, fluid motion: get off the brakes, sit up on the gas cap, leg out and apply the throttle.  The smoother you are, the easier the corner will be.  Sitting up close to the gas cap will put as much weight on the front wheel as possible for optimal traction which will give you some confidence when you lean in.  The best way to sit is on the outside edge of the seat.  This keeps your weight centered and straight down, rather than out and away.

The basics really play a big role in this situation.  That outside elbow better be up and the outside peg should be weight.  Again, this puts more emphasis on traction.  If you feel that the rear wants to drift out still, you can drag the rear brake to weight the back end down.  This is a great technique to use on the exit when power is put to the ground.  However, if you have a steady throttle hand, you won’t need to use this as often.

Drifting out too wide can leave the door open for a pass.  Keeping your elbow up and weight on the outside peg gives you the traction to power through the turn and avoid drifting out.  Unlike riding through a wide arc, squaring up flat turns robs momentum and drive.  It is time consuming and a waste of energy.  Once you find that balance between leaning and twisting the throttle, these corners become excellent passing opportunities.

Jul 12 2011

Aerobic Progression

The goal of any sport and training regiment is to improve each year or season.  To help with a steady improvement, athletes often train with different modes of exercise at various times of the year.  This is called periodization.  With this periodization, there are 2 main goals: maintenance and improvement.  Each goal requires a certain amount of frequency, duration and intensity.  Knowing when and how to train can be the difference between top 5 and 1st.

Let’s begin with the improvement.  If you are just starting out, this is the way you want to train.  If you don’t any endurance, how would you maintain what you don’t have?  As mentioned before, the 3 elements (frequency, duration and intensity) of training can all be altered.  As a general rule, you never want to exceed a 10% increase per week.  For example, if you ran for 30 minutes your 1st week of training, you should not go over 35 minutes the 2nd week.  Instead, you can raise your heart rate for a greater intensity.  Duration and intensity for improvement is minimum of 3 days per week at 50% – 85%  Max HR.

For maintaining your aerobic training, the general rule is to keep a minimum of 2 days per week at the same intensity.  It is much easier to maintain your cardiorespitory fitness than improve it.  Your maintenance time of the year is usually during the season when you have multiple races scheduled.  You can have higher intensity workouts, but the duration will not be as long.  This gives you a chance to have more days for recovery and other time to work on riding or strength training.

Like I said above, this all ties in with periodization.  Improvement is off season and into pre season.  Once you start having more and more races, you want to maintain what you have so you can be rested for the weekend.  This same concept applies to strength training and both should be coordinated together.

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