Every cyclist wants to improve. Whether you’re overtaking fellow riders and posting personal records on Strava, or working toward your first 100k ride, you likely think to yourself, “I can do better than this.”
But, at the very top professional level, it’s not enough to just train hard, cyclists need to make use of every possible performance enhancer to stay competitive.
Beetroot juice contains nitrates that form nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps with the dilation of small blood vessels which increases blood flow to the muscle tissue and improves athlete’s efficiency by reducing energy requirements for a given work rate. The amount of beetroot juice that provides the nitrate needed for the average person to sufficiently increase their blood nitrite is about 300 – 500 ml and should be consumed about 2 – 3 hours before the given race or training session.
Follow the 75-percent rule
The 75-percent rule states that during a given training week, at least 75 percent of your miles (or time) should be at or below 75 percent of your maximum heart rate (MHR). In other words, at least three-fourths of your weekly training should take place in Zones 1 and 2 (50-70 percent of MHR, 65-85 percent of lactate threshold heart rate and a maximum of 75 percent of functional threshold power).
Caffeine is probably the number one performance enhancer in the world. It helps mobilize fat reserves to be used for energy, improves muscle contractility for short high intensity efforts, helps with alertness, and influences how you pace yourself. Pros often take about 150 mg of caffeine, or two espressos, before a race and then continue during the race with caffeine loaded gels, tablets, or coke totalling at about 6 espressos worth during the day.
Power bursts are a great way to increase your leg strength and muscular endurance, which is the ability to pedal a relatively large gear at a moderate cadence. It’s a versatile workout that you can complete on any terrain. Begin by warming up thoroughly. This should include easy spinning as well as a few pulls in bigger gears to prepare your legs.
The warm-up is critical because of the stress placed on the knees due to the use of relatively large gears. Begin each power burst by spinning at a very low cadence and speed. Shift to your big gear and while seated, pedal as hard as you can until you reach 80 rpm. This should take about 15 seconds. Shift to a small gear and spin easy for three minutes at 90 rpm. Repeat 10 times and build up to 15 power bursts per session.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are probably the most famous amino acids out there. Their ability to protect muscle from damage caused by exercise made them a popular supplement for almost any sport you can think of. With long endurance activities like cycling, supplementing with BCAAs can also help the immune system and enhance recovery. The recommended dosage to gain all of those benefits is about 5 – 8 g taken.