Monitoring the development of muscular and respiratory efficiency in cyclists has become easier and far more accessible to coaches since the introduction of power meters. Coaching software including TrainingPeaks and Golden Cheetah use algorithms to ‘read’ a riders physical intensity, power, health and efficiency captured by a power meter during a physical effort.
The premise of training with power meters is that repeating a particular power output will create an adaptation that will then increase the overall performance of an athlete.
One difficulty with this approach is that the possibility to measure an honest muscular and physical efficiency using the heart rate is forgotten.
Over the course of a decade we have improved the health and endurance of sprint-specialist cyclists using breathing due to elevated resting heart-rates, decreased muscular efficiency and at times arrhythmia and chronic fatigue caused by training exclusively with power meters.
The common denominator between these riders during racing was their incapacity to stay with a breakaway, launch a counter-attack, climb over long periods and cope with elevated feelings of burning in the muscles commonly referred to as elevated lactate buildup. Due to the hypertrophic nature of a sprinters muscles, their ‘overly large’ legs proved to be like dragging anchors due to their limited aerobic efficiency.
To improve the health and performance of these riders Yoga breathing programs targeted the relationship between heart rate and power known as Aerobic Decoupling using hypoxia and pulse oximetry while practising Yoga Breath Exercise #3.
– The goal for each rider was to improve their capacity to remain in a breakaway and launch a counter-attack; ultimately becoming sprinters who can also time trial and climb for extended periods without burning all their matches before the sprint.
Exercise #3 was practised for 3 days before an event and included a final set of hypoxic walking that dropped the SpO2 down to 88 – 90% for no more than 2 seconds.
This exercise, also known as well as Simulated Altitude Training was enough to give post-race Aerobic Decoupling readings from 5% to -30% on the road cycling races that included mountain passes, long breakaways and counter-attacks. This type of reading from ‘pure’ sprinters is nothing short of incredible and they enjoyed podium and top 10 successes.
– The use of 2oxygen8 breathing coaching has opened the door to athletes from other sports including open-water SUP paddlers to begin using the programs, with immediate benefits during sprint and time trial races.
So, why does this work? Similar to asthmatics, sprinting cyclists commonly have elevated daily SpO2 readings of up to 99% and are strangely incapable of efficiently freeing their blood oxygen molecules to the muscles of their legs, causing extensive, unnecessary hypertrophy.
As the athlete reduces their breathing and SpO2 readings, the resulting increase of CO2 starts to liberate blood O2 to their muscles. At the same time their spleen and kidneys will contract, putting into motion an effective means of self-managing their pH during and effort and improving blood plasma volume.
These natural physiological processes are often annulled during extensive power meter training when no note is made on an elevated heart rate and it’s associated dysfunctional breathing patterns.
Coaching with Nick Marshall in these breathing exercises takes place via one-to-one skype sessions and pdf breath coaching programs targetted to your sport and event (course and competition analysis included). Contact Nick via email at email@example.com.
I can’t wait to get started and see you on the podium. Nick