Wow, what a name! The bottom line is that I went to GymJay today and had a Lactate Acid Test run to help determine the best overall Heart Rate zones for improving my overall fitness. There are several sources on the internet that describe what lactate acid is and why certain thresholds are important: Rhino Fitness and Sports Medicine are just two.
Jay Marschall operates GymJay, and works with all types of bicyclists and others looking for improved fitness. Jay was recommended by my doctor, who felt he (Jay) could do somethings to maximize my overall training for the cross country bicycle trip.
The first thing Jay wanted to do was determine exactly where my Lactate Threshold (LT) was. Soooo, today we did the test using my bicycle set up on one of his six CompuTrainer systems. This system was similar to an indoor bicycle resistance trainer on steroids. There was a large video screen in front of the trainers that displayed an actual road course with several riders. The trainer was connected to the display such that going up hills increased the resistance and downhill eased the resistance. The overall level of resistance can be set based each individual bikers fitness level. Ain’t it amazing what technology can do?
Jay had me warm up for about 20 minutes on the Computrainer. What an experience. First off, the 20 minutes went by in the blink of an eye. The video kept my attention fully engaged as I watched the other riders and the scenery. After the first few minutes it seemed as if I was actually on the road. Also, going up and down hills required massaging the gear shifter to maintain a steady cadence. Between buying the system, a computer, and a large screen TV you need some serious money to have one of your own, but, man-oh-man, are they a nice way to train.
Next, Jay began increasing the resistance manually while I maintained a steady cadence (80rpm). Every three minutes he would ask how I was doing, based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the maximum. The idea was for me to reach a level 8-9. At this level I would be close to my maximum heart rate and energy output and producing the maximum lactate acid. I would only be able to hold this level for a very short time. I finally reached what I considered the level 8 when my heart rate was ~165bpm. I was supposed to hold that rate for one minute while he took a pin prick sample of blood to analyze.
Jay lowered the resistance back down so my heart rate was 127bpm, and he took another sample of blood. He then increased the resistance so my heart rate would increase by five beats, took a blood sample, analyzed it, and repeated this process. At these lower levels the lactate acid in my blood was going down, which indicated my body could absorb what ever was being produced. He was looking for the point that the lactate acid started increasing, which would be the point where I was producing more than absorbing. This occured between 137bpm and 142bpm.
Viola’, my very own personal LT was about 140 bpm. Below this level I should be able to ride for an extended period of time, and above this level I could only ride for shorter periods, depending on how far above it I am.
Next, Jay is going to put together the information from the test, then determine my specific heart rate zones, and finally, he will make some training recommendations based on my particular body and the goals I have set. If I dilegently follow his recommendation my LT should go up, indicating that I am able to put forth more effort for longer periods of time.
Well, to say that I am excited would be an understatement. With only four months left till we leave I need all of the help that I can get. We agreed to re-run the test the end of May to see how much improvement I have made.