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VAM, weight, power

ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443
edited September 2016 in Training, fitness and health
On a long climb (> 30 minutes) my VAM is 950 mt/h, pretty reproducible figure day in day out. If I wanted to get to 1000 mt/h a calculator tells me that I either increase my power by about 15 Watt or I lose 4 Kg. I know how to lose 4 Kg, which is doable and an option, but how would I go about increasing my aerobic power by 15 Watt? Is 15 Watt a little or a lot to "put up"?
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  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    On a long climb (> 30 minutes) my VAM is 950 mt/h, pretty reproducible figure day in day out. If I wanted to get to 1000 mt/h a calculator tells me that I either increase my power by about 15 Watt or I lose 4 Kg. I know how to lose 4 Kg, which is doable and an option, but how would I go about increasing my aerobic power by 15 Watt? Is 15 Watt a little or a lot to "put up"?


    That rather depends on how trained you are already. But for a well trained rider, it is a lot. It may even be impossible. If I needed an extra 15 watts I know I'd be in trouble.

    Or rather, it would be a LOT easier to lose 4kg.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443
    VamP wrote:
    On a long climb (> 30 minutes) my VAM is 950 mt/h, pretty reproducible figure day in day out. If I wanted to get to 1000 mt/h a calculator tells me that I either increase my power by about 15 Watt or I lose 4 Kg. I know how to lose 4 Kg, which is doable and an option, but how would I go about increasing my aerobic power by 15 Watt? Is 15 Watt a little or a lot to "put up"?


    That rather depends on how trained you are already. But for a well trained rider, it is a lot. It may even be impossible. If I needed an extra 15 watts I know I'd be in trouble.

    Or rather, it would be a LOT easier to lose 4kg.

    I have never trained specifically to increase power, so there might be room for improvement... however, I also think that losing weight is the quicker and less painful option
  • As a lighter rider I am more used to going uphill and as a result have quite a good anaerobic capacity but aerobically I am poor unless I train specifically.

    I use HR for aerobic training sessions. My sessions are 60-120mins at an average HR of 150-160. For them to be effective I need to stay in the zone throughout the ride which means riding a consistent pace, hard on the flats and downhill but easier on climbs (no freewheeling either :wink:).

    I can generally see average power (not NP) increase by 30 watts within 6 weeks and considerably more over several months. That is based on 2-3 sessions a week.

    I know this is personal to me and everyone will see different results depending on various factors but as a general rule less sessions going uphill hard and more even paced work on the flat with an even tempo would be a good starting point.
  • Maybe try incorporating some Sweetspot into your rides
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • carytbcarytb Posts: 14
    As a lighter rider I am more used to going uphill and as a result have quite a good anaerobic capacity but aerobically I am poor unless I train specifically.

    I use HR for aerobic training sessions. My sessions are 60-120mins at an average HR of 150-160. For them to be effective I need to stay in the zone throughout the ride which means riding a consistent pace, hard on the flats and downhill but easier on climbs (no freewheeling either :wink:).

    I can generally see average power (not NP) increase by 30 watts within 6 weeks and considerably more over several months. That is based on 2-3 sessions a week.

    I know this is personal to me and everyone will see different results depending on various factors but as a general rule less sessions going uphill hard and more even paced work on the flat with an even tempo would be a good starting point.

    What percentage of your LTHR is that?
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443

    I can generally see average power (not NP) increase by 30 watts within 6 weeks and considerably more over several months. That is based on 2-3 sessions a week.

    It seems like a hell of a lot of watts in a short time!
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443
    I know this is personal to me and everyone will see different results depending on various factors but as a general rule less sessions going uphill hard and more even paced work on the flat with an even tempo would be a good starting point.

    The consensus seems to be reps... this is just the opposite of reps...

    Tried an interval session this morning as part of a 2 hour ride... 5 ascents of ca. 2 min each with a VAM of 1400 or thereabout, which is pretty much as hard as I can go uphill... I can't really say it's enjoyable or fun... :roll:
  • VamPVamP Posts: 674
    VamP wrote:
    On a long climb (> 30 minutes) my VAM is 950 mt/h, pretty reproducible figure day in day out. If I wanted to get to 1000 mt/h a calculator tells me that I either increase my power by about 15 Watt or I lose 4 Kg. I know how to lose 4 Kg, which is doable and an option, but how would I go about increasing my aerobic power by 15 Watt? Is 15 Watt a little or a lot to "put up"?


    That rather depends on how trained you are already. But for a well trained rider, it is a lot. It may even be impossible. If I needed an extra 15 watts I know I'd be in trouble.

    Or rather, it would be a LOT easier to lose 4kg.

    I have never trained specifically to increase power, so there might be room for improvement... however, I also think that losing weight is the quicker and less painful option

    You may well be able to do both. When I first started properly structured training, I found 30 watts relatively quickly (6 months). Since then I have added maybe another 20. That's in 4 years of being pretty diligent if I'm honest.
  • craigus89craigus89 Posts: 887
    Tried an interval session this morning as part of a 2 hour ride... 5 ascents of ca. 2 min each with a VAM of 1400 or thereabout, which is pretty much as hard as I can go uphill... I can't really say it's enjoyable or fun... :roll:

    It's never meant to be fun :wink:
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443
    VamP wrote:

    You may well be able to do both. When I first started properly structured training, I found 30 watts relatively quickly (6 months). Since then I have added maybe another 20. That's in 4 years of being pretty diligent if I'm honest.

    I'll give intervals a go for 5-6 weeks and see where I am at the Autumn Epic in Wales
  • MikeBrewMikeBrew Posts: 814
    As a lighter rider I am more used to going uphill and as a result have quite a good anaerobic capacity but aerobically I am poor unless I train specifically.

    .


    Did you mean this the other way around ? Surely a climber needs a good aerobic capacity for prolonged high wattage efforts. Anaerobic capacity would only be useful for very short climbs.
  • What percentage of your LTHR is that?

    It's calculated from max HR (worked out from a MAP test). This works out at 79-84% of max HR. I don't have specific LTHR figures but from experience mine would be around 170-175 (for 1 hour). Being conservative and taking it as 170 gives 88-94%, but this is not as accurate as the figures derived from max.
    It seems like a hell of a lot of watts in a short time!

    It is but to give more context. When going from unstructured to structured rides it is like switching from driving in 3rd gear to 5th, you aren't giving the car any more power just utilising what is already there. As a result the first 10-12 watts is power I already have but have not been using on "easier" unstructured rides. I know when it is genuine fitness gains when, in addition to power increasing, my speed in the zone also creeps up and RPE for the rides lowers. This takes around 4 weeks to take effect for me. As has been mentioned by others, riders who do a lot of this type of riding already are unlikely to see such large increases.
    Midlands Grimpeur wrote:
    I know this is personal to me and everyone will see different results depending on various factors but as a general rule less sessions going uphill hard and more even paced work on the flat with an even tempo would be a good starting point.


    The consensus seems to be reps... this is just the opposite of reps...

    I know and it seems counter intuitive! If you think about it though, on a longer climb (30min plus) you are working at a high effort (near HR and power threshold) for a long period, far longer than a 5 minute interval. In order to do this you have to condition your CV system to operate efficiently over a longer duration, the knock on effect is that this also enables you to deliver more of your power over a longer period because your heart/lungs can support and sustain the effort.
    Did you mean this the other way around ? Surely a climber needs a good aerobic capacity for prolonged high wattage efforts. Anaerobic capacity would only be useful for very short climbs

    No, but you are absolutely right! I am a bit unusual in the fact that I can deliver large power on a climb for a short period (5-10) mins. This combined with a high VO2 max and a high lactate threshold means that when I am being lazy and not training aerobically I can still be competitive on a climb. I basically surge-recover-surge-recover which means I can compensate for poor aerobic capacity. By training aerobically I then get the best of both worlds.

    Sorry for the long winded reply, I find this stuff interesting. :)
  • zoomer42zoomer42 Posts: 124
    I got no figures to back this up, but ive been working on increasing power recently and started to doing the following drills. They hurt, but seem to be working

    On the flat get up to 30mph - hold it there for 25 - 30 seconds - 3 min rest. Repeat as many times as you can before your legs fall off.
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    If you've not followed a structured training plan then I think you could lift FTP by 15watts through doing so. You've been riding yonks so I suspect you've got a deep aerobic base, a structured build plan will build on it.

    I find I put 10-20 watts on through spring by following one of the trainerroad.com training plans, it's not expensive and lays it out for you. Give it a sustained power build plan a go for 3 months. Broadly it will entail hard intervals through the week and a longer ride at weekends.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443
    I am trying to fit some intervals in my commute into work... there are 8 moderate inclines, all beteween 40 and 90 seconds long, only thing is the recovery time between them is a bit too long... I suppose I could fit some extras in the flat sections, but with a single speed that means pedalling like a lunatic for 60 seconds... :-)

    I'll stick to the 8 for 3 times a week and see if that does anything. There are so many ways to do intervals that I suspect one is as good as the other... or at least that's what Dr Hutch says and he should know a thing or two about training...
  • stueysstueys Posts: 1,332
    You won't like this but the turbo is the best way to do intervals......

    I'd be aiming for sweet spot intervals (to build muscular endurance) and VO2 work. For SS work you're going to need longer intervals than your hills. For VO2 intervals you can do shorter durations, Friel has a good article on interval duration here http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2014/07/hi ... ation.html.

    Doing on the flat isn't a bad plan, at least the single speed is giving you cadence work ;-)
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443
    Stueys wrote:
    You won't like this but the turbo is the best way to do intervals......

    I don't think I want it badly enough to invest in a garage or living room cycling facility... I want to give more structure to my riding, as I seem to rack up more miles than people who are way faster than me, but I am not ready for the dullness of indoor cycling just yet... :-)
  • Alex99Alex99 Posts: 1,407
    Stueys wrote:
    You won't like this but the turbo is the best way to do intervals......

    I'd be aiming for sweet spot intervals (to build muscular endurance) and VO2 work. For SS work you're going to need longer intervals than your hills. For VO2 intervals you can do shorter durations, Friel has a good article on interval duration here http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2014/07/hi ... ation.html.

    Doing on the flat isn't a bad plan, at least the single speed is giving you cadence work ;-)

    I tend to agree regarding the turbo. The time that I've seen the most improvement week on week, is when I followed the 'Obree' method. The key session is a 20 minute time trial on the turbo that you aim to ramp up each time (just + 1 kph in the last 5 minutes). Cripplingly hard session and must be done with fresh legs. The modern and perhaps more palateable version would be to use a power meter and ride a good route on the road. The basic point is that you need whatever you're doing to be measureable and it takes a lot of discipline to push on that little bit each time. The same is true for intervals of any length.
  • ajmitchellajmitchell Posts: 203

    I can generally see average power (not NP) increase by 30 watts within 6 weeks and considerably more over several months. That is based on 2-3 sessions a week.

    It seems like a hell of a lot of watts in a short time!

    Yes if he trains all year he will be up by around 250w! Thats 250w up from baseline! Realistically 30w can only be gained in 6 weeks by a beginner or by a regular rider who is deconditioned and comes back to the saddle.
  • ajmitchell wrote:

    I can generally see average power (not NP) increase by 30 watts within 6 weeks and considerably more over several months. That is based on 2-3 sessions a week.

    It seems like a hell of a lot of watts in a short time!

    Yes if he trains all year he will be up by around 250w! Thats 250w up from baseline! Realistically 30w can only be gained in 6 weeks by a beginner or by a regular rider who is deconditioned and comes back to the saddle.
    The rate and amount any individual increases power output through training is highly individual and obviously there are a number of factors in play.

    Some will gain quite a lot while others will not gain all that much. I have seen clients attain anywhere from a 5% to 100% change in threshold power over 3-6 months.

    As a point of reference, for riders that race and train consistently through a year, about a 10% variance in threshold power is about normal from general off season riding to peak fitness.
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    Intervals are something to get used too. They work and while i may not look forward to doing them i am glad i did afterwards.

    If you know how to loose weight i am all ears that is loose weight without loosing power.

    Ugo you dont have to use a turbo altough many do sucessfully. What i do over winter well i did last winter and spring is use my heavy commutor bike and do hill reps 1 to 5mins, sprints, various intervals and 20 minute tests. I do this on the heavy bike becuase it is harder work to ride it moderatley fast. This means it is safer to train on. Currently i am relying on racing for my most of my interval work but You can also try mtb riding. I find it requires a more conistant effort and good for onterval traing. It also works more muscle groups i think. Mtb riding however has not transformed me into nino schurter.

    You'll get used to it sort off. Tommorrow it is hill reps. .
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • antflyantfly Posts: 3,276
    I would recommend getting some sort of training plan. I have been doing a training plan from a website called "today'splan", for the last 3 months, none on a turbo. If you have a Garmin and a powermeter you just download the workouts and follow them, it's given real structure and purpose to my riding. It's pretty tough at times but you only find out what you can do by pushing yourself.
    Smarter than the average bear.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443
    antfly wrote:
    If you have a Garmin and a powermeter you just download the workouts and follow them, it's given real structure and purpose to my riding.

    I don't and I don't the money or the inclination to go the "electronics route"... I've got a bike, two in fact...
  • antflyantfly Posts: 3,276
    Hill repeats will do then..you could also try flat out sprints for 8 to 45 seconds.
    Smarter than the average bear.
  • dinyulldinyull Posts: 2,970
    ajmitchell wrote:

    I can generally see average power (not NP) increase by 30 watts within 6 weeks and considerably more over several months. That is based on 2-3 sessions a week.

    It seems like a hell of a lot of watts in a short time!

    Yes if he trains all year he will be up by around 250w! Thats 250w up from baseline! Realistically 30w can only be gained in 6 weeks by a beginner or by a regular rider who is deconditioned and comes back to the saddle.

    Yep, 30w over 6 weeks would be a tough ask. Coming to the end of latest build on trainerroad and I'm lucky if I gain 10w after 8 weeks.
  • meanredspidermeanredspider Posts: 12,337
    The truth is, Ugo, that no-one on here can answer your question. We know nowhere near enough about you or your physiology to be able to answer it. The analogy would be going onto a car forum and asking how to make a "car" do the dash to 60mph 0.5sec faster. If we know nothing about the car, where do we even start? The human body is infinitely more complex. The best anybody can do is suggest general ideas - some of which might help and some might be useless.

    About the only answer that is likely to be correct is "do something different" from what you do now as that obviously isn't cutting the mustard. If you do more miles than people that are a lot quicker, doing even more miles probably isn't the answer (though it could be).

    This is where coaches can add value - figuring out what is limiting you and putting together a personalised plan to address it.
    ROAD < Scott Foil HMX Di2, Volagi Liscio Di2, Jamis Renegade Elite Di2, Cube Reaction Race > ROUGH
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 26,443

    This is where coaches can add value - figuring out what is limiting you and putting together a personalised plan to address it.

    Makes sense... will probably go for a cheaper book though... that "fast after 50" looks inviting, although I am only 44, so I would get an edge start, for a change! :lol:
  • cyclecliniccycleclinic Posts: 6,865
    to determine where you need to train you need to do some tests but since you dont have a power meter all you can do is a range of intervals based around what you think your weakness are on some sort of structured plan. I am sure you can work it out.

    You can make this more complicated than it needs to be as well. enjoy the read.
    http://www.thecycleclinic.co.uk -wheel building and other stuff.
  • PTestTeamPTestTeam Posts: 395
    On a long climb (> 30 minutes) my VAM is 950 mt/h, pretty reproducible figure day in day out. If I wanted to get to 1000 mt/h a calculator tells me that I either increase my power by about 15 Watt or I lose 4 Kg. I know how to lose 4 Kg, which is doable and an option, but how would I go about increasing my aerobic power by 15 Watt? Is 15 Watt a little or a lot to "put up"?

    Simple answer. Get a coach
  • fat daddyfat daddy Posts: 2,605
    Coaches slow down waaaay too much on the switch backs .... Probably fine in the uk, but wouldn't want one in the Alps
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