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.”