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
14:55

Thoughts On What Might Be Happening With A Cyclist's Blood and Muscle When Unfit, Dehydrated, and Fatigued.


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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
20:00

Listen to Your Heart, but WATCH Your WATTS!!!

Take a look at this chart. We've got a good workout from Paul Dybala, a client at the White Rock Lake location. What's interesting is that if you look at the red line, which displays heart rate, you'll see a minimal trend of rising intensity, but it sort of plateaus, both on range and max/min for each interval. However, if you look at the Watts, in light blue, well, it goes UP, and UP, and UP! But HR doesn't show you that. 

For decades, Heart Rate was viewed as the primary indicator of fitness. Zones were developed, based on good science, to indicate levels of intensity and fitness results. But with HR, intensity was just too vague to account for quantifiable values. Again - look at the chart. Heart rate range between intervals was pretty similar each time, and yet, wattage went up - significantly. Not even cadence changed all that much for the intervals themselves.... 

What does it all mean??? Well, for one thing... While you can get a good idea of your workout intensity from Heart Rate... you'll get a more acute sense of your work, with Wattage. Secondly - while Heart Rate Monitors can be purchased for around $50, Wattage meters, which WERE once in the stratosphere in terms of cost, continue to decline in price, while remaining both accurate and consistent. This image shows the successful merge between the Physics of Wattage, and the Physiology of Heart Rate. You can't have one without the other, but it's the Wattage that determines the success of your workout - with heart rate alone, you're just not getting the full picture. 

Stay tuned, though. Cycling Center Dallas is working with a MoxyMonitor, to measure Muscle Oxidation levels and Total Hemoglobin, which, when combined with wattage, will yield a TRULY complete picture of the cyclist, inside, and out, in real-time. 

Curious? Come by for a visit, or register at CyclingCenterDallas.com for your first class - it's free, and you'll leave smarter, and more driven, to achieve your fitness goals with us. I promise. 

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