Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Cycling Center Dallas Blog
Here we talk about all things cycling - training, wattage, group rides, bike rallies, triathlons, weather, coaching, coaches, nutrition, ponderings, musings, and equipment! If you have a topic or a question, send us a note and we'll try to answer for you!
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Coach Wharton
15:31

More Ways to Use the Moxy to Interpret A Workout at Cycling Center Dallas

Leonardo Spencer - 2015-01-29T09-56-33 - Snapshot

I keep finding out more and more about this Moxy Muscle Oxygen Sensor, and I can't wait to share it!

Here's an image of a longtime client and his workout from a few days back. He's always good about getting in early, getting a solid warmup, and he drinks his hydration like a saltwater fish. The squiggly red line is his Hemoglobin count, and the light blue line is his Muscle Oxygen. This workout consisted of six 5-minute intervals at 107% of Critical Power, with just 2.5 minutes of recovery. He. NAILED. IT!

How so? Well, first, I'm not showing his actual wattage line, but we did not need to, because it was so consistent. Every interval was 107%. The consistency of the wattage is also reviewed in the consistency of the Muscle Oxygen. See the green line hidden beneath the light blue? That's W', and after the first 15 minutes of warmup, you'll see that the value stayed rather static, and actually remained above 60% reserve after the first interval was completed. The ONLY trouble I see with this workout is that after interval #4, Leo's ThB values began falling. I'm interpreting this as a sign of fatigue, and maybe his dehydration was outpacing his rehydration. He is an incredibly heavy sweating individual, and I suspect that he loses maybe 2-3 Kg over the course of an hour. But here's my takeaway from this image...

If we looked at this, and it repeated itself in other workouts, it would be a sign that Leo had adapted to his CP value at 209w, and a retest might be worthwhile. How so? Well, look at his SmO2 in light blue... it was consistent. REALLY consistent. My analysis leaves me believing that he can successfully handle this load, and while his RI (Relative Intensity) was at 93%, which signifies a pretty hard 60 minutes, we need to 'Go Up'. Had SmO2 dropped significantly, well, that would have indicated that maybe he wasn't ready for six intervals at low Vo2 range. 

If you want to get a different look at the file, here's a link... http://ppst.co/18CzDsv

Here's another example, taken later that night. 

Jim Porter - 2015-01-29T19-16-48 - Snapshot_copy
Jim has been coming in consistently now for several weeks, and while we're still about four weeks out from an official Critical Power test, it might be time to RAISE THE NUMBER! Once again - look at his SmO2 values in light blue. They were rather consistent. Now, look at the white line, which indicated Critical Power. We raised his numbers about 5%, and the SmO2 values didn't change. In the middle of interval #4, we raised the CP again, and Muscle Oxygen still didn't decrease! You can't get as good a look at the ThB values because of scaling, but they did not change all that much. But again, the important thing is that, as he raised his intensity on the intervals, metabolically speaking, nothing much changed. He hit his wattage goals, and while he was highly fatigued, did NOT lose much else. Here's the link to his file: http://ppst.co/18CzHsq

I'm starting to believe that this little product is going to really help my athletes and myself as we continue to focus on ways to help THEM improve their performance through proper intensity. Moxy allows me to see what's going on intrinsically, while wattage reveals what's going on extrinsically. If we get consistent wattage results, but SmO2 begins to drop, well, I read that as strain that is adequate to affect a response from the body. But if it's static or within a range, well, then we need to test, because the subject has adapted to the load. The result? MORE POWER and more POWER-TO-WEIGHT. 

This device could be revolutionary. Let's see what else it can tell us over the next several months! If you're interested, Moxy monitors can be purchased through Cycling Center Dallas for $1000, and we'll help you with setup. 


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Coach Wharton
17:39

Increasing Intensity in PerfPro Studio to Get The Proper Training Effect With Moxy


Moxy and PerfPro at Cycling Center Dallas

This is a GREAT example of why I'm so excited about the Moxy Monitor, and what it can do to help cyclists at Cycling Center Dallas get MORE out of every training session. 

Take a look at the image above. The blue area is the load, and in this case, these are 3-minute intervals at 110% of Critical Power. The white line is Critical Power itself, and if you own PerfPro, you know that you can raise or lower the intensity of a workout just by increasing or decreasing that value with the "+" and "-" keys on the handlebar controller. The smoother red line is Paul's Heart Rate, while the squiggly red line is Total Hemoglobin, or "THB". The Green line is W', or a rider's Anaerobic Work Capacity, and the light blue line is the rider's Saturated Muscle Oxygen, or SMo2.

If you recall from my previous post, I mentioned that we can use Moxy information to learn a lot about warmup, bonking, fatigue, dehydration, etc. And we're still learning more EVERY SINGLE TIME WE USE IT. This morning's ride is a perfect example. 

Paul came in this morning after having done a hard interval workout the night before. He also said he had not had much sleep (he has four kids, and his wife had been out of town). But, Paul is one of those perfect clients that is rare in our world. He's consistent, he loves the workouts, and he's hungry to understand. He wrote us something a while back about how we literally saved his cycling soul, and I felt like getting it framed. But after a quick chat, we both agreed that he should just take today's workout one interval at a time, and see how it went. He lowered his Critical Power by 50 points, continued his warmup, and we installed the Moxy Monitor on his left Lateralis. 

If you follow the red squiggly line, this is the fascinating part. Throughout the warmup and first interval, Paul's Total Hemoglobin remained low, and his SmO2 was at or near his 'Active Resting SmO2' level. But, predictably, after the first interval was over, both ThB and SmO2 both rose, indicating that the muscles were relaxing and opening up for wider flow of oxygen and nutrients, and purging of waste materials. 

We raised CP about 10 points and did the next interval....

SmO2 dropped, down to a level normally associated with his Vo2 or Maximal Aerobic Power plateau, and ThB, which had dropped immediately during the beginning of the interval, began to RISE over the course of the three minutes, while SmO2, again, plateau'd. Watts were perfect, and the rise in HR, which is certainly predictable, was not as high as possible, nor was his 'range' of HR. Immediately after the interval, however, ThB and Smo2 both rose, but NOT to the levels that I was expecting. I racked this up to his fatigue from the night before, and we discussed leaving the CP intensity at that level, and just turning the workout in to a less intense, more aerobic ride. But Paul, himself a PhD and a scientist, wanted to study more. 

We raised CP another 10 points, and did the NEXT interval!....

SmO2 dropped to about 30-35% of saturation, in line with the previous intervals, and ThB again plopped, then rose steadily, just like HR. Watts were perfect. He felt better throughout the interval. His head was in it, he knew his numbers, he was watching and listening, as was I, and he nailed his third interval at this 'new' level of intensity.

But it was what happened after that really wowed us. 

Look at the ThB and SmO2 levels after interval #3. Paul's now 20 minutes in to the workout, plus the extra 15 he did at low intensity, and NOW, his ThB and SmO2 levels spike to NEW HIGH'S! MORE Oxygen and MORE nutrients, and a BEAUTIFUL little Skateboard-ramp of an HR plot after the interval to show that NOW the Heart is Ready, NOW the legs are ready, and NOW the VASCULAR system is adequately dilated and prepared for the challenges to come. 

WE RAISED CP ANOTHER 10 POINTS, to near his original Critical Power, and did the FOURTH Interval....

BOOM! GREAT WATTAGE PROFILE! GREAT HR PROFILE! GREAT SmO2 Profile revealing a floor at an appropriate level of intensity, and BOOM! A great ThB profile that mimics the previous two intervals, showing a rise in ThB throughout the three minutes, as if the blood was pushing GOOD STUFF in, and BAD STUFF OUT. And just after the interval ends? Check out the new high's on that ThB!! 

What does it all mean? Well, I can't emphasize it enough, but I REALLY believe that this is telling us good information about proper warmup, proper interval dosing, and psychosomatically, proper ways to get the most out of every workout, and interval. I LOVE wattage and power meters, but the power meter is the LAST BIT of information you're going to get, because it's OUTSIDE the body. It's the RESULT of the brain telling the muscles to GO, and the heart responding after a period of time. IF we had just relied on HR, well, we'd be missing a bit of the picture. IF we just used watts, or cadence, or energy expenditure, it's all just slices of a pie. But NOW, we've got ANOTHER PIECE OF INFORMATION! TWO, REALLY! And we just used that information to help a fatigued cyclist properly warm up, properly dose his intervals, and properly approach those intervals once he had the confidence of knowing that he was READY. 

Don't leave anything to chance. Your time, your life, your passion, is SO PRECIOUS. Micah McKee, my first ever cycling coach, gave me a quote that I'll never forget.... 

"Enthusiasm Without Knowledge Is Like Running In the Dark!"

ENJOY your CYCLING, but ENJOY IT MORE when you train with us. KNOW YOUR NUMBERS - THEY DON'T LIE. Let US do the Analysis, you just perceive and focus, based on what we reveal and learn together. I'm convinced that this will be the next paradigm shift in cycling and coaching. I can't WAIT to learn more.

If you'd like to try out any of our services, please feel free to register for a class at either of our locations. We have Moxy's at each studio, and they are for sale for $1000, or roughly 2/3 to 1/2 the price of a power meter. Integration and Awareness will help us, help you, enjoy your body and bike to a higher degree. That's a promise. 

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Coach Wharton
11:52

Using Saturated Muscle Oxygen and Total Hemoglobin to Measure the Need for Calories

A few days ago, I posted about all of the things I think I'm seeing when I put a Moxy Monitor up on a client's leg. Well, here's an example.

Mike Brandley is a client who focuses on mountain biking, so his season and schedule can be a little bit different than others. He came in early one morning this week, and while excited to be working out, during our warmup and bike prep, he revealed that he'd forgotten to eat on his way over. I told him I wanted to try the monitor on him, and that it might tell us some things that he and I might not otherwise know. 

Here's a cut from his workout. Unfortunately, we still need to get a broader range for the red line, which indicates Total Hemoglobin, but I'll provide several images to enforce my point, with details...
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-45-28 - Snapshot

Now, if you look first at the warmup, the green line is the SmO2, and the red line is ThB. Follow the red line out to about the beginning of the third green spike, and notice the little red notch. I was looking at the rider's dashboard, and I noticed this immediately. Also notice - the Rider's SmO2 was NEVER that high to begin with during the warmup, and it began to crater in to the SINGLE DIGITS during the first two intervals!

But wait - there's more. Notice how each time the rider recovered from an interval (Remember, the green line when it's low indicates the interval, and high indicates the recovery) at a HIGHER level? This is where my two terms from the previous blog post come in to play. I believe that Mike's "ACTIVE RESTING SmO2" level is pretty low - around 35-38%. However, IF WE HAD PROPERLY WARMED UP, USING A LONGER PROTOCOL AND SOME SHORT, SHARP INTERVALS AT HIGHER INTENSITIES, then we would have found that his "MAXIMAL SATURATED SmO2" would be around 60+%. This would have made for a BETTER WORKOUT, because we could have combined what we know about his SmO2 levels, with his wattage intensities, and adjusted things accordingly. 

BUT WAIT - THERE'S MORE!!!

Remember that little knock in the ThB Red Line that occurs around the recovery time after the third interval? Here it is in a close-up. 
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-19-54 - Snapshot

THAT, my friends, when combined with a LOW SmO2 during a Vo2-themed 2-minute interval... IS A CALORIE-RELATED BONK!

Look back up at the first graphic. After that little knock in ThB, it never really came back up. HOWEVER, after feeding him a BONK BREAKER, around 300 Kcals, and forcing him to drink a water bottle with an appropriate amount of OSMO Active Hydration in it, here's what happened....

SmO2 did NOT really recover to near the previous 'Maximal Active Saturation' level, but the "MINIMUM SATURATED SmO2" level, or the 'Vo2' Plateau that I believe leads to the best biological response for the rider on THAT given day, bottomed out at a HIGHER level for each interval, around 10, then 12, then 14 percent. Now, let's add wattage back in to the picture. 
Mike Brandley - 2015-01-14T06-45-41 - Snapshot

Mike's Critical Power, on paper, is about 255 Watts. These were two-minute intervals, based on slope, and I wanted him to finish the intervals with an average over the two-minutes at 110-120% of Critical Power. I don't have the CP/FTP line on the chart, but you can see that he was able to rally, and completed the entire workout, performing rising-intensity intervals, at the appropriate training dose. 

What's the moral of the story? 

Sometimes, the wattage doesn't give us the complete picture. Having onscreen Muscle Oxygen and ThB gives the smart coach an extra tool to determine what's best for a cyclist on any given day. In this case, we were able to more quickly determine that Mike's fasting from the night before could lead to a failed workout. Had we been using wattage alone, we may have collectively ended up beating our heads against a wall as we tried harder and harder to accomplish something that just wasn't feasible. Instead, we rectified it immediately, got him fed, watered, and salted, and he was actually able to IMPROVE the quality of his intervals, and later, ACHIEVE THE GOALS SET OUT FOR HIM, without throwing in the towel. His Muscle Oxygen range helped him get the proper training dose, in conjunction with wattage, and the ThB values gave us a really good clue about how much was in the tank, and how quickly it was depleted. It's hard to show in this blog, but for the savvy reader, if you download and purchase a copy of PerfPro Analyzer, the 'Analyze' tab includes max,min, and average Smo2 and Thb PER INTERVAL. I've taken the liberty to export the chart to Excel, where I made a simple graph. 
Mike Brandley ThB Lap Averages

What you see is that after the initial 'Bonk', he ate and drank, and had a ThB Rebound. Later, it tapered off again, AS HIS POWER CAME BACK UP, and for the last 10 minutes of the workout, which was two, separate 5-minute intervals AT CRITICAL POWER, well, the ThB continued to rise. 

I'm convinced that this tool, in the right hands, can complement our goals of helping recreational cyclists accomplish their goals, each and every workout, through the combination of watts, heart rate, and now, muscle oxygen and total hemoglobin. Here's my takeaway from this client and his workout, some of it's simple, some, notsomuch. 

  1. ALWAYS show up for a ride or training session properly rested, fed, watered, and salted. That's what Grape-Nuts and Greek Yogurt is for. 
  2. EAT and DRINK throughout the workout. I don't care if you're trying to lose weight. Training to raise your Critical Power will help you burn more KiloJoules, ergo, KiloCalories, and you'll end up losing the weight anyway. Eating and Drinking a light-sugar solution like OSMO, will help keep the ThB Levels and SmO2 levels higher. I THINK having a higher value in both, is optimal.
  3. IF you know an athlete's SmO2 levels for "Maximum Active Saturation", you can then modify a workout and train for DOSE, instead of training for a wattage output goal. We know more about Mike's Max Saturation, and per the later intervals, his appropriate minimum saturation. We'll train for DOSE, and use WATTS as the resistance, while setting a general FLOOR for SmO2. We'll also track his HR, which I bet, I bet I bet, will drop as he gets back in to his training regime. 
  4. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS WARM UP! Starting a workout cold or unprepared can hurt you physcially as well as mentally, so ALWAYS give yourself 20-30 minutes to warm up, and ALWAYS include several 20-40 second pick-me-up intervals at high intensity, with adequate recoveries, so that you will begin the intervals with the highest SmO2 and THB levels possible.

That's it for now - I'll try to write more in the upcoming days, but until then, don't forget - if you haven't come in for a first ride, download the App and let's get you in. The upcoming season is nigh upon us, and in Texas at least, it won't be cold for long!!!

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Coach Wharton
17:38

Using the MOXY Muscle Oxygen Sensor to Further Optimize Each Workout at Cycling Center Dallas

Moxy Monitor

I've written several unfinished blog posts about this topic, but each time that I get toward the finish, I end up coming up with something new to report, or change my mind about something that I see. The thing is, that the MOXY technology and what it tells us is SO new, that very few people really understand what it's telling us, what that means, how to use it, and why it may be important. That said, I've immediately begun to pick up on trends that I can see in real-time, that are giving me some pretty strong ideas about how the MOXY can help our clients get the most out of every single workout in the studio. This is a strong claim, but let me outline what I'm thinking, and then I'll be glad to discuss and debate.
Vastus Lateralis_copy

The MOXY Monitor is a device that is placed on the skin, under a cyclist's bike shorts, usually against the Vastus Lateralis. It's wireless, transmits in ANT+, and is picked up by our ceiling sensors, where it is read by our PerfPro Studio Software. The battery lasts about 90 minutes, and while the sensor can store data on board, it's really more suited for the studio environment, and of course, it's perfectly integrated in with PerfPro Studio and Analyzer.



The device transmits a beam of Near Infrared energy through a few layers of skin tissue and down in to the muscle, and there are two sensors that measure the reflected energy. The thing is sensitive to light, so it's best used with tight shorts, where it will hold its' position, or inside a special rubber blackout device, which is bulkier, but also works. Ubiquitous black bike shorts probably work best. Once it's on, you can't feel it, and it won't affect your workout.

Once the device is set up and paired to an athlete on PerfPro, there are two extra screens on the dashboard that relay the information to the athlete, and the coach. Furthermore, all of the information is save in .FIT and .TCX format, so you can upload it, and store it for analysis. The custom dashboard that I've created includes the following:


PerfPro Custom Dashboard
  • Per Lap Maximum Saturated Muscle Oxygen (Max SmO2)- This allows me to see how 'open' the muscle is. I can use that to determine a couple of things that I'll try to explain later.
  • Instant Maximum Saturated Muscle Oxygen (SmO2) - The rider can see where their muscle oxygen concentration is at that moment.
  • Per Lap Minimum Saturated Muscle Oxygen (Min SmO2) - We can use this value to look at the range of drop and rise between Max and Min, and we can also use it to determine a muscle oxygen plateau, which, again, is something I'm going to explain further, either in this blog or another.
Next to that, I've built a row that covers the following:

  • Total Max Blood Hemoglobin, given in mmol/liter, per lap.
  • Current Total Hemoglobin.
  • Minimum Total Hemoglobin per lap.
Then, on top of that lower row, I've put in metrics that are also important on a per-lap or per-interval basis. They include:

  • Target Load or Watts.
  • Current Power Output in Watts.
  • Current Cadence.
  • Current Heart Rate
  • Average Power Output per Lap in Watts.
  • Average Power Output per Lap as a % of FTP/CP, whichever you're used to.
Those of you who don't know how to train with wattage at the studio, basically, it goes like this...

The CompuTrainer puts a LOAD or TARGET wattage against the tire, and it's the job of the cyclist to MATCH that load with POWER. Since Newton's Third Law says that "Action = Reaction", the Target and Wattage are usually around 1:1, or, in other words, they're equal. When the body is placed under strain, you have to recruit more power to match the load, and this results in higher heart rates, and more oxygen required.

Until recently, we looked at Wattage as the outside, extrinsic result of force being applied to the pedals, and we looked at heart rate as an indicator of intensity from the inside. Adding the Muscle Oxygen Sensor, actually gives us another view, this time from the muscle's standpoint, and it's there that things get interesting.

Now, a LOT of what I'm going to say next is conjecture and educated guess, because you need to remember that I AM NOT an Exercise Physiologist. I didn't study this stuff that deeply in any academic setting. I've reached out to my better-educated colleagues, Dr. Conrad Earnest, Dr. Philip Skiba, and the esteemed Dr. Pete Snell, but let's face it - they're busy, and Snell is retired, so I really am on my own until the PhD's take over.

Based on what I have seen since I started using this thing pretty heavily in the late Summer of 2014, I THINK we can posit the following...

  • SmO2 and ThB values are as individual as Heart Rate maxes, mins, and wattage thresholds.
  • ThB Values have a fairly direct link to Maximal Oxygen Values, or Absolute Vo2max, in L/Min. The higher the number, the more you can thank your parents.
  • There's an 'Active Resting SmO2', where your leg muscles are sort of at half-saturation.
  • There's an 'Active Maximal SmO2', and 'Active Maximal ThB', which is best-obtained through a PROPER and THOROUGH warm-up.
  • Traditional warm-ups, where a cyclist rides at ever increasing intensities, on a rising scale of power, looking at perhaps heart rate or going by feel, are inefficient and perception-heavy. Proper Warmups will increase SMo2 to near-'Active Maximal Smo2' levels, and Near - 'Active Maximal ThB' levels. 
  • Once a Cyclist is at those optimal levels, intervals and workouts become MUCH more effective. 
  • This usually adds time to a workout, so plan accordingly. 
  • If SmO2 levels reach a certain level at wattage levels between 80 and 100% of Critical Power, and then plateau, that's a pretty good area for training for mitochondrial growth. 
  • If SmO2 levels reach a certain level at maybe 110-120% of Critical Power, and then plateau, I think that's a pretty strong sign of where to stay for more MCT4 development, or Lactate Shuttles. 
  • If SmO2 levels plunge, well, you're anaerobic and won't last long. 
  • Getting Smo2 levels down in to the teens or single digits can lead to some moderate micro-trauma in the muscles, which basically means that recovery is going to take longer, and you MIGHT be building more muscle as a result. 
  • We can use SmO2 values to determine the 'Recovery Window', or the best time for a cyclist to begin consuming recovery drinks and food, or, conversely, to begin other recovery methods, like massage or cryotherapy, etc. 
  • For asthmatics, I THINK we can use the Moxy to determine the best way to warm them up without triggering bronchospasms, and we can determine the optimal intensity to help them train safely and properly, given their limitations. 
  • I BELIEVE we can measure and quantify improvements in Mitochondrial Growth through the use of the Watts/Smo2/ThB combination empirically, but I'm not sure how best to go about it.
  • I BELIEVE that we can look at a Declining ThB, and determine a 'Bonk'. Seriously. THAT one I've seen.
  • I BELIEVE that we can also look at a Declining max recovery SmO2, and determine fatigue or a lack of calories, or even a state of dehydration. 
Okay - Once again, I'm hosed for time. I'll start showing examples of what I'm learning. I may even pull an all-nighter. We'll see. Until then, think about this...

If we have WATTS, then think of Total Hemoglobin as AMPS, and think of Saturated Muscle Oxygen Levels as VOLTS. I think it's apt.