Sunday, July 22, 2012

Matty Reed in the Performance Lab: Part 2

The Bike Fit
One of the most important things to remember about bike fit is that power output depends not only upon angles, but also upon the rider’s strengths and weakness and how to make a rider stronger.

After series of single leg squats, planks, and joint mobility measures, it was clear that the position of comfort and maximal power would depend upon further stabilizing Matt’s core muscles.  His aerodynamic position was already  tested in the wind tunnel, so I was more concerned with keeping his frontal area minimized while changing his core stability

Because riding position changes with different power outputs, it is important to use a point on the power curve that approximates race-pace wattage.  The point that we chose was where lactic acid starts accumulating.  By testing the bike fit at this point, we could see how the changes were affecting him.

After a few changes to his elbow pads, we did another trial at race wattage.  His exhaled carbon dioxide dropped, meaning that he was not accumulating lactic acid.  
Moving the elbow pads further forward let Matt use his aero bars as levers to pull back and activate some of his core muscles which gave him more power as he pedaled.  My big concern was that this position might lead to more acid accumulation, since he was using more muscles, but the changes resulted in less lactic acid accumulation, meaning he could pedal harder before the burn of the lactic acid would cause muscle fatigue.

Using stop motion video, I was able to measure and maintain his hip and knee angles that he was comfortably using. 

He had two weeks until his next race the Boulder, Colorado 5150, in which he got second place.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Matty Reed in the Performance Lab: Part 1

A project about making a great triathlete better.
I got an email about helping out Fuji sponsored rider Matt Reed with a bike fit.  It seems that even though he was having great results all season, including a frigid win in Boise 70.3, he felt as though he wasn’t getting the power output he wanted and it was harder on the bike than in previous years.

Matt came to the Performance Lab following a 5th place in the Philly Olympic Triathlon.  I felt a little bad knowing that he raced just the day before and was now going to be doing a maximal test.  VO2max testing would help us establish his muscle fiber profile and would also give us some good power benchmarks to use for bike fitting.  On the way to reaching VO2max we can figure out how the heart lungs and muscles work together.  By analyzing the data we are able to identify where he maxed out his slow twitch fibers, his anaerobic threshold and his VO2max.

Many of the elite/pro half iron distance triathletes that I have tested have a similar profile, that is they are largely aerobic machines, using their slow twitch fibers to move them.  Once we were done with our testing, I knew that Matt was different--he has a lot more anaerobic fibers than most, which is where he gets his power.  The anaerobic fibers (also called fast twitch or Type II) are 5-10 times more powerful than slow twitch fibers.  The drawback is that fast twitch fibers can fatigue faster.

Once we know where Matt is getting his power, I gave him specific wattage based intervals to use which will help him target his strengths.  On review of the testing I was able to give Matt his nutrition requirements for the different muscle fibers that he is using when he races.
At the end of the test, I asked how he felt.  His answer? “If I knew I was going to be doing a VO2 max test, I might not have had the Ahi Tuna for lunch.”