Understanding the Energy Systems Part 2

So yesterday was an intro to the fuel systems of the body.  It was brief, but to get the point across, I made it quick and painless.  If you noticed, the two sources for fuel were fat and carbohydrates.  These are broken down according to how fast energy is needed, then they are converted to ATP for muscular contraction.  The relationship between fat and carbohydrates can be seen in the picture.

As you move away from aerobic systems, fat is used less and less as carbohydrates become the main fuel.  Looking at the picture again, you see that the red line represents the wastes.  This is not related to bowel movements in any way (or we would be in big trouble every time we rode!).  The line indicates the accumulation of lactic acid.  When the intensity is low and fat is still a prime fuel, the lactate acid can be flushed from the blood and muscles in a timely manner.

The aerobic base is the point where the highest intensity of your effort can still be maintained to be aerobically efficient.  Remember, aerobic means “with oxygen” so this is still in the lower heart rate zones.  You can actually shift this point with enough aerobic training.  This is the main goal when you say “I need to get my cardio up.”

As you move up the graph, you’ll see the lactate acid increase exponentially.  This is where you reach the anaerobic threshold.  At this point, you stop using oxygen and that burning feeling is rampant.  Training in this zone requires a lot of work and athletes physically cannot spend much time here.  Once you go past this point, you reach your VO2 max.  Quite simply, this is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can take in and use.

By now, you should see a pattern forming here.  Your heart rate zones used for training are directly affected by your anaerobic threshold, aerobic base and VO2 max.  The fuel required must be consumed in sufficient quantities to ensure that you have the body’s “gas tank” full (i.e. eat correctly).  I hope this helps you understand aerobic training a little more.

If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to email me!

Posted on Nov 10 2011, under Training | No Comments »

Understanding the Energy Systems

I have said this numerous times before, but I will say it again because it is so true: moto is one of the most dynamic sports on the face of the planet.  Simply doing cardio for hours on your road bike will not prepare you enough for a 20 minute moto.  The body relies on different systems to fuel itself during physical activity and the endless cardio only taps into one of these energy systems.  When you know what to train, you can properly set up your workouts for the right time of the year.

Your energy systems are the means of producing energy that is called ATP.  This is molecule is essential for muscular contraction.  If you have no ATP, you aren’t going anywhere.  Depending on the intensity of the activity, you will get most of your energy from one of three systems: oxidative, glycolytic, or ATP-PCr system.  All three systems are always being used, but it is just a matter of which one is in the “driver seat.”

The first system is the oxidative.  This is the slow and steady way of getting energy.  Generally, this is used when activity is over 2 minutes.  Because it uses oxygen, this aerobic process takes place in the mitochondria of your cells.  Remember those things?  They used to call them the power houses of the cells when I was in high school.  As you train in this system more and more, your body will produce more mitochondria in order to keep up with the demand for ATP.  For the most part, the lower the intensity, to more fat is utilized.

The next system is the glycolytic.  In this system, things are getting a more intense and the heart rate is climbing.  At this point, you start to use a little less fat and more carbohydrate.  This is where glycolysis occurs and breaks down glucose or glycogen.  Since this is a higher intensity, if there is oxygen (aerobic), then the glucose can be broken down and sent to another cycle for ATP.  However, when there is no oxygen (anaerobic), the glucose is sent to a different cycle for ATP and eventually is converted in lactic acid, but it can be dissipated quickly.  This system is used when activity is under 2 minutes.

The final system used is the ATP-PCr system (CreatinePhosphate)  .  This is utilized when you are going all out.  Unlike the oxidative system where you are getting plenty of ATP, the PCr system only generates small amounts.  It cannot be sustain for very long before lactic acid and fatigue take place.  The main source of fuel here are carbohydrates.  The time for this system is very short, less than 30 seconds.

This is an extremely brief overview of these systems.  However, if you can understand what is going on, you will be able to train yourself more efficiently.  Like the old saying goes, work smarter, not harder.  Tomorrow I will tie this in with the VO2 max so you get a better understanding.

Posted on Nov 09 2011, under Training | 2 Comments »

Strong Legs = More Endurance

Any athlete will tell you that the way to great overall strength are well trained legs.  You don’t need have bodybuilder size thighs, but a strong base will help you last longer in your motos.  Your upper body cannot support the amount of stress for an entire moto for you to be competitive.  It’s pretty simple to prove this.  How much can you bench?  Lance knows the importance of strong legs...Maybe 170, 180 lbs; however, you can squat twice or maybe three times as much weight.  Squeezing your bike throughout the moto is always important and if you squeezed your handle bars as much, your arms would be pumped for the next week.

To get a good, strong base, you’ll need to hit the legs hard.  To me, when the legs get lactic acid built up, it is the worst burn ever.  But you have to remember, this will pay off on race day.  So, to start off, you might want to do this leg work out for a few weeks:

Front Squats:  12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps

Leg Press:  20 reps, 20 reps

Lunges: 12 reps, 10 reps, 8 reps

Leg Curls: 20 reps, 20 reps

Calf Raises: rep out 3x

Front squats put a lot of emphasis on the quadriceps as well as the abdominal muscles and lower back.  If you have never done them before, it may be a little awkward at first, but your get the hang of it the more you do it.  It is performed just like a regular squat except you place the bar in front of your neck instead of behind it.  The same concept applies when executing: keep your back straight all the way down, head and chest up.  The rest are pretty self explanatory, but for the lunges, make sure you explode off of the foot to be most effective.

However, don’t just concentrate on this one routine; you must work on all of the muscles.  To work your squats a little different, try to put your feet closer together with your toes pointed out, or you put your feet out wider than shoulder width.  This will mix things up and keep your muscles guessing.  Again, don’t just go through the motions, work your legs hard and it will pay off when the track gets rough in the later motos.

Posted on Oct 14 2011, under Training | No Comments »

Setting up for Corners Mid-Flight

Saving time on the track is always a priority.  If you can master a technique to get faster, you better take advantage of it.  When things get tight during racing, it’s the little things that add up and make a big difference in the end, especially if you can set up for corner more efficiently.  When the outside is not available or you need to make a pass on the inside, sometimes setting up mid air for a corner can help get that pass made.

If there is a berm already there, you don’t have to do this, but if the inside is flat off the downside, this technique will come in handy.  You want to make sure that you have the jump sized up before trying to sit down and set up mid air.  If you come up short or over shoot it, this will hurt.  Especially guys.  Once you have everything timed right, you want to loosen up in the air, trying to get the back end of the bike out just slightly.  You can let the outside leg out and lean in to get the rear end moving.

As you approach the down side, you want to start moving into the correct position for the corner.  You don’t necessarily have to be seated in the air, but as long as you are ready for the landing and corner, this transition will be smooth.  When you land, make sure that your inside leg is ready for the forces of gravity; keep it high and stiff.

If traction is not a problem, you can apply a handful of throttle and accelerate towards the corner.  Remember to keep weight on the outside foot peg and outside elbow up as this will plant you into ground for more traction.   If the downside is harder, you will have to apply the throttle with grace as you don’t want to the rear end to break loose.

This is something that you should start small on and on a jump you are comfortable with.  No sense in trying this on a new jump and getting hurt.


Posted on Sep 29 2011, under Riding Techniques | No Comments »

Saving Energy on the Track

With heart rates constantly through the roof, moto is no doubt one of most physically demanding sports on the face of the planet.  Your heart is pumping just from the adrenaline, but throw in a rough track, huge jumps and some whoops, you will definitely work every energy system in your body.  Although it is still hot as hell down here in the Deep South (not hell, just Florida), things seem to be cooling down for the rest of the country.  However, just because it is not as hot, fatigue will creep up on you before you know.  Save yourself some pain and read on!

One of the most important things to remember is to stand up.  I know this is probably a no brainer, but some people will still ride as though the track is still smooth.  Most of the time, you will have to stand up later into corners and then get up sooner when exiting.  For rougher corners, it is even a good idea to stand up through the whole turn and look to the edges of the track for smoother lines.  Many European riders will do this because the course gets so brutal, if you sit down; your back will take all of the impact.  This is not the best idea because your back could tense up and result in some serious pain.

This next tip goes hand and hand with standing up: gripping with your legs.  I have said many times before that you will save yourself from arm pump and getting tired quickly if you squeeze the tank.  The quadriceps are large enough to take the impact from a rough course and they can handle this stress much better than your forearms and biceps/triceps.  You almost want to think of your arms as hinges to your core.  Relaxing your grip on jumps will also keep your “hinges” from cramping and pumping up too much.  To help get through extra tricky sections; you can even apply pressure to one side of the tank with your leg to help steer the bike.

If you watched the 250’s, then you saw Barcia killing it everywhere.  Other than his crazy style, he was doing something that caught my eye more than a few times during the second moto.  If you notice, he was riding on his back wheel, a lot.  The deep holes and moguls were not as bad when he could get the front wheel up.  The back wheel would just roll over the bump and the rear shock absorbs the tire’s vertical travel.  If you go through a rough section with both wheels down, it just rocks you back and forth.  I am not saying to do a full blown wheelie here, but just getting your front tire to skim or get over the rough stuff will make life much easier.  Remember that riding in a high gear will help the suspension work properly in the chop and provide you with more traction to get the front tire up.

One final tip is to just relax!  If you know that the track is rough, just accept it and ride.  When you tense up, any bump and hole you hit is sent throughout your entire body.  If your breathing is deep and even, you should be able to roll your shoulders back and ride smoother.  By your rolling them back, you can keep that attack position much easier and you open up the diaphragm for this more efficient breathing.  Like I said earlier, this is not hard stuff.  Keep it simple and remember the basics!

Posted on Sep 23 2011, under Riding Techniques | No Comments »

Wednesday Workout

Today’s workout is pretty straight forward.  It will combine your cardio and muscular endurance.  Most of the time, people either perform bouts of cardio or a certain volume of resistance training.  While this is great for setting a foundation, you can really get a great workout from alternating between the two in a certain amount of time or sets.  Like yesterday’s routine, this can be used in the middle of the week during a race series or for an upcoming race.  It is high intensity, so you need to properly warmed up and give yourself some time in the next few days to recover.

  1. Run 200 meters
  2. Overhead Squats
  3. Run 200 meters
  4. Dips
  5. Run 200 meters
  6. Dead Lifts
  7. Run 200 meters
  8. Inverted Rows
For the overhead squat, you want to use light weight because the bar will be held over your head like a shoulder press as you squat.  Keep you core tight and back straight.  This is a great exercise like the dead lift that can work both portions of the body.  The dips will hit the anterior side of the upper body and the rows will be a nice way to end the circuit.  Since these are body weight movements, there won’t be a rep count, just do as many as you can.  For the squat and deads, 8 to 10 reps is good.
The running does not need to be an all out sprint.  Run at a fast pace that will keep your heart rate up and around 85% of your max HR.  However, on the last run, try to give it all you have.  As far as the number of circuits, begin with 2, then you can progressively workout your way up.  Take your time with this and as I mentioned before, warm up and stretch.
Good Luck!

Posted on Sep 14 2011, under Training | No Comments »