Henry Poon's Blog

“The Cyclist’s Training Bible” by Joe Friel – Chapter 2 summary – Physical performance

This is summary of chapter 2 of Joe Friel’s “The Cyclist’s Training Bible”. This chapter discusses the physical component of high performance cycling.

The right stuff

There are three markers of endurance fitness: aerobic capacity, anaerobic threshold, and economy

  • Aerobic capacity: AKA “VO2max”, is a measure of how much oxygen you are capable of using when riding at a maximal effort for a few minutes
  • Anaerobic threshold: the percentage of your aerobic capacity that you are capable of sustaining for a long time, such as 40 to 70 minutes
  • Economy: tied to all metrics of performance in that it has to do with how much energy you waste while riding (e.g. physical structure, pedaling style, position on the bike, and bike-handling skills)

Power duration curve and phenotype

This is a huge generalization, but it shows that performance can be predicted from metrics

  • Climbers: can maintain high power outputs even over long durations. Best predictor of success is power to weight ratio
  • Sprinters: even higher power outputs with short bursts but drops off quickly over long durations
  • Time trialists: Best predictor of success is power at anaerobic threshold. Aerodynamic drag is the biggest obstacle since often courses are quite flat
  • All-rounders: someone who is pretty good at at least two of the above and they are often contenders when course conditions don’t favour the specialists

Training beliefs

The athlete must have faith that he is going down the right path for training, and follow the path beginning to end

Some people respond quickly, while some slowly. Some people have muscles made for endurance while others made for power, and it’s the rider’s job to adjust his training based on what he’s know about himself.

Training is always a moving target – what worked last season may not produce the same results

Four steps to training with a purpose

There is no one-size fits all way of training

  1. Clear goal – well-defined goal drives training outcome. Even workouts need to have a goal. The combination of the workout goals ultimately point to the season’s goal
  2. Expert instruction – e.g coach, mentor, training partner, or even yourself (i.e. by reading this book)
  3. Specific practice – Everything done should follow the goal and the expert instruction. Training alone is ideal as it allows control over all aspects of workout without accounting for someone else
  4. Immediate feedback – Review data as the workout is happening or immediately after. Need to stay mentally engaged with how one feels during workout

Previous: Chapter 1 – Mental performance
Chapter list: Chapter summaries

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