Cycling; Training doesn't make you more efficient?

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jamix
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Cycling; Training doesn't make you more efficient?

Postby jamix » Sat Dec 29, 2012 11:52 am

http://www.powertri-blog.com/biking/is- ... letes.html

Well this is very interesting. Apparently there is no different between average recreational cyclists and elite ones in terms of efficiency.

Today I want to share with you a study that completely blew my mind. We all know how critical efficiency is when swimming, and also your form when running has a significant effect on your efficiency, but what about cycling? The University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom did a study in 2004, where they took cyclists and divided them into 3 groups based on their V02 max. Some of you may not know what VO2 max means, but V02 is a measurement of how much oxygen, or fuel you can burn. The higher the number, the more in shape you are likely to be. The three groups were then divided into elite, well-trained, and recreational. The study was also done at a cycling cadence between 80 and 90, which is right on for triathletes. These tests were also done on a stationary bike to factor out things like wind resistance and weight of the athlete. Energy expenditure was estimated from measures of oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide production, In short they estimated how much energy the cyclists were expending. The results were linear, meaning, producing 150 watts from all 3 groups resulted in the same energy expenditure from all 3 groups, and producing 250 watts all the groups used the same proportional amount of energy. It’s not saying that it took the same amount of energy to produce 150 or 250 watts of power, but that regardless of the power the cyclists were generating, all 3 groups used the same amount of energy. Based on this data, the researchers concluded that there are no differences in efficiency and economy between elite cyclists and recreational level cyclists. This doesn’t mean don’t train for cycling! Of course, the difference is that in the elite athletes, they can maintain that 250 watts longer than the recreational cyclist, but that study shows that the energy used to do so is the same as an average cyclist.

2013 GOALS:

- Compete in the "Early Bird Sprint Triathlon" in May
- Run a 5km pb during the "Bushtukah Canada Day Road Race"
- Complete an Olympic distance triathlon
- Cycle > 33 km / hr during the cycle portion of a Sprint Triathlon.
- Stay healthy and happy

Races

April 28th: Manotick 10km (40:16)
May 18th: Ottawa Early Bird Sprint Triathlon (DNF)
June 8th: Riverkeeper SuperSprint (2nd overall)
July 1st: Bushtukah Canada Day 5km (18:37)

Mark.AU
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Re: Cycling; Training doesn't make you more efficient?

Postby Mark.AU » Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:31 pm

Wow! so conditioning makes a difference! Astounding! ;)
"It's now very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fcuking what."

Stephen Fry.

Dstew
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Re: Cycling; Training doesn't make you more efficient?

Postby Dstew » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:45 pm

Now if professional cycling events were done on spinner bikes, that study might even have a grain of usefulness. But there is wind resistance and there are hills and mountains and higher cadence so ... to me, a study like that is the same as the average NHL fan and NHL player have roughly the same reaction time playing the NHL video game.

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jamix
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Re: Cycling; Training doesn't make you more efficient?

Postby jamix » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:01 pm

Dstew wrote:Now if professional cycling events were done on spinner bikes, that study might even have a grain of usefulness. But there is wind resistance and there are hills and mountains and higher cadence so ... to me, a study like that is the same as the average NHL fan and NHL player have roughly the same reaction time playing the NHL video game.


The study already has very big implications (it was done on a stationary bike). It basically suggests two things;

1)One average, there are no physiological differences between elite and recreational cyclists in terms of efficiency.

For instance, if one is to believe the results then hypothetically if both Lance Armstrong and some recreational wannabe like myself were to peddle at a wattage that required "2 Litres / minute" of oxygen, there is a good chance that we'd still both be outputting the same wattage.

2) Potential for improvement on the bike cannot occur by becoming more efficient. Instead, the amateur cyclist who wants to become faster, can only improve by improving his VO2max on the bike and his ability to sustain a larger percentage of his VO2 during racing.

Anyone can make themselves equally aero-dynamic up to the point in which their body surface allows them. With practise, most amateurs could make themselves as aero as any pro/elite. In conclusion, the only real barrier between an elite and an amateur is that elites have a higher VO2, as well as an ability to race at a higher percentage of VO2.
2013 GOALS:

- Compete in the "Early Bird Sprint Triathlon" in May
- Run a 5km pb during the "Bushtukah Canada Day Road Race"
- Complete an Olympic distance triathlon
- Cycle > 33 km / hr during the cycle portion of a Sprint Triathlon.
- Stay healthy and happy

Races

April 28th: Manotick 10km (40:16)
May 18th: Ottawa Early Bird Sprint Triathlon (DNF)
June 8th: Riverkeeper SuperSprint (2nd overall)
July 1st: Bushtukah Canada Day 5km (18:37)

Mark.AU
Bill Crothers
Posts: 2583
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 10:30 am

Re: Cycling; Training doesn't make you more efficient?

Postby Mark.AU » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:27 pm

jamix wrote:
Dstew wrote:Now if professional cycling events were done on spinner bikes, that study might even have a grain of usefulness. But there is wind resistance and there are hills and mountains and higher cadence so ... to me, a study like that is the same as the average NHL fan and NHL player have roughly the same reaction time playing the NHL video game.

The study already has very big implications (it was done on a stationary bike). It basically suggests two things;

1)One average, there are no physiological differences between elite and recreational cyclists in terms of efficiency.

It doesn't say that at all. It says both groups can produce the same power at the same VO2. I guarantee you there are physiological differences in terms of the sustainability of that power.

jamix wrote:2) Potential for improvement on the bike cannot occur by becoming more efficient. Instead, the amateur cyclist who wants to become faster, can only improve by improving his VO2max on the bike and his ability to sustain a larger percentage of his VO2 during racing.

Which is obvious; aside from some minor differences in technique, cycling is a quite simple physical exercise. Efficiency in the same way as swimming, and to a lesser extent running, isn't really a factor because the rider is attached to the machine and the variability in the mechanics are so limited.

I might be missing something here, but I don't see anything other than stating-the-obvious in this study.
"It's now very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that.' As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more... than a whine. 'I find that offensive.' It has no meaning; it has no purpose; it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that.' Well, so fcuking what."

Stephen Fry.

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MichaelMc
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Re: Cycling; Training doesn't make you more efficient?

Postby MichaelMc » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:42 pm

jamix wrote:
Dstew wrote:Now if professional cycling events were done on spinner bikes, that study might even have a grain of usefulness. But there is wind resistance and there are hills and mountains and higher cadence so ... to me, a study like that is the same as the average NHL fan and NHL player have roughly the same reaction time playing the NHL video game.


The study already has very big implications (it was done on a stationary bike). It basically suggests two things;

1)One average, there are no physiological differences between elite and recreational cyclists in terms of efficiency.

For instance, if one is to believe the results then hypothetically if both Lance Armstrong and some recreational wannabe like myself were to peddle at a wattage that required "2 Litres / minute" of oxygen, there is a good chance that we'd still both be outputting the same wattage.

2) Potential for improvement on the bike cannot occur by becoming more efficient. Instead, the amateur cyclist who wants to become faster, can only improve by improving his VO2max on the bike and his ability to sustain a larger percentage of his VO2 during racing.

Anyone can make themselves equally aero-dynamic up to the point in which their body surface allows them. With practise, most amateurs could make themselves as aero as any pro/elite. In conclusion, the only real barrier between an elite and an amateur is that elites have a higher VO2, as well as an ability to race at a higher percentage of VO2.


Seems too simplistic, and it is most decidedly NOT true for running, so I'm skeptical. I can see that the relatively fixed geometry of pedaling on a stationary bicycle might narrow the potential efficiencies down to pure muscular efficiency (taking skill out of it). It is possible that any differences in muscular efficiency are below statistical significance, or in fact non-existant. Pedalling in a real world situation might produce very different results, with energy lost due to the NON stationary nature of a moving bicycle. Add to that the learned skill of drafting well off of other cyclists (not in Ironman, but in cycling and sprint Tri), one wonders how far this goes.

In point of fact, in Elite running VO2max has zero statistical significance: I'd guess it doesn't have a very high significance in Elite bicycle racers either, but I don't know it for a fact.

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jamix
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Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:18 pm

Re: Cycling; Training doesn't make you more efficient?

Postby jamix » Sun Dec 30, 2012 4:22 pm

For those who want to read the study; this is it

http://d3epuodzu3wuis.cloudfront.net/R060.pdf

Mark 2.1 wrote: 1) I guarantee you there are physiological differences in terms of the sustainability of that power.

2) Which is obvious; aside from some minor differences in technique, cycling is a quite simple physical exercise. Efficiency in the same way as swimming, and to a lesser extent running, isn't really a factor because the rider is attached to the machine and the variability in the mechanics are so limited.


1) The physiological requirements for sustainability of power aren't necessarily the same as those that govern efficiency. FYI; Cycling efficiency is defined as "watts / litre" or the amount of power generated per litre of oxygen used. If there are no differences between elites and amateurs with regards to this parameter then the physiology should also be the same between the too groups.

2) I don't think its that obvious and in fact there are difference between individuals in terms of efficiency. Some cyclists pedal at 72 watts / litre, while for others its as high as 90 watts / litre. As the science tells us that training can't improve our Watts/Litre (ie efficiency), then these differences must be 100% genetic.
2013 GOALS:

- Compete in the "Early Bird Sprint Triathlon" in May
- Run a 5km pb during the "Bushtukah Canada Day Road Race"
- Complete an Olympic distance triathlon
- Cycle > 33 km / hr during the cycle portion of a Sprint Triathlon.
- Stay healthy and happy

Races

April 28th: Manotick 10km (40:16)
May 18th: Ottawa Early Bird Sprint Triathlon (DNF)
June 8th: Riverkeeper SuperSprint (2nd overall)
July 1st: Bushtukah Canada Day 5km (18:37)


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