VO2max and Wmax are the two frequently used measures of athletic endurance ability. The changes in body mass may likewise show changes in performance outcome.
An efficient cyclist will use maximum oxygen available in the atmosphere and deliver maximum power. Simultaneously a measure of peak aerobic power (Wmax) is taken.
Oxygen uptake is measured in terms of absolute (total oxygen consumed per minute) and relative (oxygen consumed per kilogram of body weight per minute) terms. A cyclist with high power output will have high absolute VO2max whereas an endurance rider will have a high relative VO2max. Similarly a cyclist with a high power to body mass ratio (Wmax/BM) is good in climbing and gaining speed. Body mass affects the performance outcome of a cyclist.
Measuring heart rate is important in measuring aerobic training intensity. The factors affecting heart rate are or could be:
- psychological stress
- thermal stress
- poor nutrition
Hence it is important to standardize the testing and evaluation of maximal heart rate at a known point (maximal aerobic power).
A cyclist who continuously undertakes an incremental test to exhaustion will show the best outputs for VO2max values. For the moderate cyclist this is best attained when the workload chosen is increased at a rate in which the athlete fatigues between 8 to 12 minutes.
For a shorter test anaerobic metabolism is a major influence, whereas for a longer test fatigue is caused. Thus the optimal time is 8 to 12 minutes. Many sport scientists use stages of minutes while working with well-trained cyclists where tests can last upto 50 minutes. This is useful in obtaining submaximal measures.
Submaximal economy is defined as the oxygen cost to work at a given intensity. The oxygen cost to work at a given intensity will decrease as a cyclist becomes more biomechanically efficient. The submaximal economy will increase when the athlete’s endurance level increases and subsequently oxygen uptake will increase. This will enhance muscular contraction and improve delivery system.
The athlete will go through several periods of exercise for five to six minutes at a fixed intensity and submaximal economy is tested. Both heart rate and VO2max are assessed during this time and submaximal economy is evaluated using oxygen cost for a given power.