When watching any competitive cycling race, specifically the Tour de France, its hard not to wonder how these athletes are able to ride up and down mountains at blistering fast paces for hours on end. To reach this level, competitive cyclists spend hours following a training program that combines endurance, frequency and intensity to increase aerobic capacity. Aerobic exercise is a specific exercise plan that is designed to improve the body’s ability to use oxygen.
Aerobic Benefits of Competitive Cycling
Imagine when you are training hard for a sport; typically your breathing is labored. This is the aerobic process in action. Your body is transporting oxygen rich blood throughout your body, specifically to muscles, to keep you going.
The sport of cycling helps you burn calories, reduce heart disease and lower high blood pressure. Through aerobic training, a cyclist’s body learns to circulate blood through the body more efficiently. Having a high aerobic capacity is essential to excel at competitive cycling. Individuals train at specific intensities to teach their bodies to become more efficient at pumping blood. By making the heart more efficient, cyclists require fewer heartbeats as they work out. As the aerobic capacity continues to grow, an athlete can cycle faster for a longer period of time. According to a group of professional cyclists who have crafted a training program for competitive cyclists, by increasing your aerobic capacity, you can expect to increase your cycling speed by 10 to 30 percent.
Maximal oxygen uptake, or VO2 Max, is the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can use during intense exercise. VO2 max is used as an indicator of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. In theory, the more oxygen your body can break down, then the more energy you can produce. This theory is supported by studies that show that many elite athletes have higher than normal VO2 max levels.
Anaerobic Benefits of Competitive Cycling
Anaerobic exercises are different from aerobic exercises because they pertain to short-term exercises. Anaerobic means without oxygen and these exercises are performed at such a high intensity that the muscles are unable to receive sufficient amounts of oxygen to meet demand. This type of exercise is done through high intensity spurts and is used to help build muscle mass and power.
Building a Training Plan
When working to increase your aerobic capacity, you need to follow a detailed training program. Many studies show that in order to increase your aerobic capacity, you need to train between 80 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate. When training at around 90 percent, cyclists can expect to incur an aerobic improvement of around 85 percent VO2max.
By following an aerobic intense training plan, competitive cyclists should be able to cycle faster for longer. Aerobic training should have you beating fellow cyclists that used to pass you by.