What is VLamax? With Sebastian Weber

This episode we take a close look at Sebastian Weber's concept of VLamax to improve your training.

Fast Talk Podcast Q&A
Photo: Maico Amorim

In this era of training data, one number reigns supreme for many athletes: Functional Threshold Power (or FTP). It’s a badge of pride, or maybe an obsession, and many cyclists pay coaches good money to improve it.

But is FTP the only number we should be looking at — or even the most important one? Our energy systems can be divided into two key categories: aerobic and anaerobic. And both our total strength as an endurance athlete and our rider type are a function of the relative balance between these two systems. How they interact may tell us more about our FTP or threshold strength than a simple power number.

For years, we have used VO2max to measure the maximal rate of our aerobic system. But how do we measure the rate of our anaerobic system? Over the past two decades, renowned physiologist and coach Sebastian Weber has developed the anaerobic equivalent to VO2max, which he calls VLamax, or the maximal rate of lactate production.

In this episode, we take a close look at this sometimes complicated concept, but be patient as there are several points that we address that could have a significant impact on how you train, and how quickly you progress.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • First, we define FTP, and why it may not be the be-all-end-all of training. If you have an FTP of 350 watts, you should be proud. But the more important consideration, particularly for how you train and where you may excel as a cyclist, is how you produce those 350 watts.
  • What are VO2max and VLamax, and why is the cross-over point of lactate production and lactate clearance so important.
  • The issues with lab testing: Yes, it’s inconvenient, it disrupts training, and it hurts. We’ll also explain why finding ways to get the same information out on the road is important to an athlete’s training.
  • How to determine VLamax since it can’t be measured as easily as VO2max.
  • Then we get to the crux: how to apply the concepts of VLamax and VO2max to training. Weber makes the very important point that developing one system generally comes at the cost of the other.
  • Finally, we address how this has different implications depending on if you are a time trialist or a sprinter. Weber gives great advice to both styles of riders on how to direct their training.

Our primary guest today is the head physiologist and scientific brain behind INSCYD, Sebastian Weber. Weber has also coached some of the best riders in the world including Tony Martin, Andre Greipel, and Peter Sagan. INSCYD is currently used by several WorldTour teams, including Bora-Hansgrohe and Jumbo-Visma.

Along with Sebastian, we talked with Armando Mastracci, the owner and founder of Xert. While that system’s approach is very different from INSCYD, the two tools are similar in that each uses on-the-road data to analyze a rider’s physiology with remarkable accuracy. Mastracci talks about this balance of anaerobic and aerobic power and also the potential issues with outliers in the formulas.

Finally, we’ll touch base with coach Neal Henderson and mountain bike and gravel racer Rebecca Rusch to get their thoughts on VLamax and how the type of rider you are can influence how you view it.

RELATED EPISODE: Fast Talk Episode 73: How to Balance Your VLamax with Sebastian Weber

So, put on your nerd cap. Let’s make you fast!

Primary Guests
Dr. Sebastian Weber: Elite coach and lead physiologist for INSCYD

Secondary Guests
Armando Mastracci: Owner and founder of Xert
Neal Henderson: Elite coach
Rebecca Rusch: Legendary adventure, MTB, and gravel racer

Episode Transcript


Welcome to Fast Talk, develop news podcast and everything you need to know to ride like a pro.


Chris Case  00:15

Hello, and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host Chris case managing editor of velonews. Joining me today, as always, our resident super nerd Coach Trevor Connor, today’s episode. In this era of training data, one number reigned supreme for many athletes. FTP we’ve all heard. It’s a badge of pride, or maybe an obsession, and many cyclists pay coaches good money to improve it. But as FTP The only number we should be looking at, or even the most important one, our energy systems can be divided into two key categories aerobic and anaerobic. And both our total strength as an endurance athlete and our rider type are a function of the relative balance between these two systems. how they interact may tell us more about our FTP or threshold strength than a simple power number. For years, we have used vo two max to measure the maximal rate of our aerobic system. But how do we measure the rate of our anaerobic system? Over the past two decades renowned physiologist and coach Sebastian Weber has developed the anaerobic equivalent of yoto Max, which he calls Vla Max, or the maximal rate of lactate production. Today, we take a close look at this sometimes complicated concept, but be patient as there are several points that we address at the later half of the show that could have a significant impact on how you train and how quickly you progress. So in today’s episode, we first define FTP and why it may not be the be all end all of training. If you have an FTP of 350 watts, you should be proud. But the more important consideration particularly for how you train and where you may Excel as a writer is how you produce this 350 words. Next we’ll define vo two Max and Vla Max and why the crossover point of lactate production and lactate clearance is so important. We’ll address the issues with lab testing. Yes, it’s inconvenient, it disrupts training, and it hurts. We’ll also explain why finding ways to get the same information out on the road is important to an athlete’s training. Next, we’ll talk about how to determine Vla Max, since it can’t be measured as easily as via to max. Then we get to the crux, how to apply the concepts of Vla max via to max to training. Sebastian makes the very important point that developing one system generally comes at the cost of the other. Finally, we address how this has different implications depending on if you are for example a time trial list or a sprinter. Sebastian gives great advice to both styles of riders on how to direct their training. Our primary guest today is the head physiologist and scientific brain behind inside Sebastian Weber. Sebastian has also coached some of the best riders in the world, including Tony Martin, Andre Greipel, and Peter Sagal. In other words, he knows what he’s talking about. Along with Sebastian we talked with Armando Strachey, the owner and founder of exert well that systems approach is very different from inside. The two tools are similar and that each uses on the road data to analyze a rider’s physiology with remarkable accuracy. Armando talks about this balance of anaerobic and aerobic power. Finally we’ll touch base with Coach Neil Henderson and mountain bike and gravel legend Rebecca rush to get their thoughts on Vla Max and how the type of rider you are, can influence how you view so put on your nerd cap and your patients pants. Let’s make you fast.


Trevor Connor  03:53

We don’t normally do plugs and Fast Talk. We see something this crazy, especially by a fellow torontonian we have to give it its due credit. Last weekend Canadian our record holder Ed veal wrote 24 hours on the Forest City velodrome in Canada to raise money for as much needed repairs. At 138 meters. It’s the shortest permanent velodrome in the world. I mean Ed completed 5249 laps, or 735.8 kilometers. We’d asked him how it went but we’re pretty sure he’s stuck in his house walking in counterclockwise circles unable to get to the door. So far Ed has raised over $50,000 he’s still taking donations@gofundme.com slash the dash real dash deal dash attacks dash f c v for for city velodrome. We hope you can show your support


Trevor Connor  05:00

So Sebastian is is driven up from Colorado Springs to join us. He just spent the weekend at the USAC coaching summit, I was actually down there. And he was kind enough to invite me to this whole day presentation he did on Monday that covered, what we’re basically about to talk about today is a very shortened version of what he covered yesterday. That was there was a lot of fun. But I have to say, sitting in this presentation, there was a certain point where he put up on the board the difference between efficiency and economy. And if any of you actually suffered through the podcast, where I spent an hour ranting about, they’re not the same and so many, Reacher’s researchers get it wrong. It was great to see him put up on the board and was possibly the best diagram I’ve ever seen explaining the difference. later on. He put up this graph that he said is one of his all time favorite graphs. And I’m embarrassed to say I looked at it, I didn’t recognize it right away, but almost put my hand up and said, Have you ever read this? There’s this 1980s study out of Syracuse, New York. And then it goes in next slide. I went, Oh, same study. And it’s one of my all time favorites, we certainly have some some things that we both share here. I think if you tell everybody they need to wear knee warmers, I might have to propose to you at some point during this podcast. But


Chris Case  06:10

that’s weird.





Trevor Connor  06:12

Okay, I went, I took a horrible turn with that. But anyway, be ready for this one, because you might see here some science Geeking going on, I know, there’s already some things that we’re gonna argue a little on, which will probably be a little bit fun. And we’re probably going to be needing to rely on Chris to stop us and keep us on track of it here. But


Chris Case  06:32

yeah, you won’t hear my voice much today, I don’t think unless I’m just breaking you guys up from punching or blowing with word making blows with words. I’m a moderator today, mostly, because a lot of the science is pretty deep, there will be a payoff at the end, I think we should state that work will probably go pretty deep to begin with. But at the end, it’s going to apply to you out there listening specifically, we’ll try to get some of that practical take home advice. So all of this is worth it. So let’s start by talking a little bit with Sebastian about what he what he focuses on, which is understanding what’s going on physiologically in our bodies. There is a an obsession by some people have a focus on FTP, FTP, FTP, and we want to go beyond that what we really want to do is help people understand what FTP is, but then go beyond that and help people understand. What is the foundation beyond that? Is that do I have that right, Sebastian, why don’t you jump in here and take it away? Well, I’m



not so very many of us kosher in terms of FTP, but I know that it’s a very, very popular term, maybe more becoming a buzzword. Yeah. Right. And I mean, I think for me, first thing to remember is that it’s actually like a substitute it has, you know, has becoming a substitute initially, was the lack of ability to measure anaerobic threshold or determine anaerobic threshold. Precisely. And this is why I mean, this is where the name comes from. It’s called like functional threshold power. So it indicates already that is a substitute if you don’t have access to a lab, or you don’t have access to accurate measurements. So estimate, it’s an estimate. And I mean, fair enough, you know, can be, you know, can be accurate enough for whatever you do, maybe not for motorcyclists, but maybe for recreational Metro cyclists, it can be accurate enough, but for me, that’s not the point. Because the point is that it’s it’s, it’s just vastly overrated. So it’s not overall important, really like there in terms of this. There’s very rarely any scenario in a race where you will ride if your email is correct or not, doesn’t matter. edu FTP, so to speak, right. And that’s the same, by the way goes very special. The only reason why no restructured is very popular is not reasonable, the only justification may be wiser, very popular is because especially in running that original origin origins from is that your speed I can can carry, I can have more than a marathon correlates to certain extent, this speed threshold, but just because it correlates doesn’t mean that this is same. And more important, maybe it doesn’t tell you any of the mechanisms that is behind this correlation,


Trevor Connor  09:12

right? It’s actually really good that you brought up runners because when you talk to runners, they don’t really talk about thresholds. They’ll talk about what’s your 10 k pace, what’s your five k? One k pace,



what you’re taking one step further, you know, I bet and you go out and you ask, I don’t know 510 cyclists, what approximately is FTP type hours in terms of time, you will often using something like 20 minutes an hour, 30 minutes, whatever. But based on that very, very rough estimate, doing a 20 minutes test. This is my entire FTP and something to do with 20 minutes right now, metabolically what it means basically threshold what it should mean as the maximum elected city says there’s a maximum intensity you can hold without accumulation lactate and if you now go to run a coach who coaches 10 k runner and the tank, you know, maybe runs Whatever, let’s say so it’s 33 minutes, just to say something you’ll notice is the lactate concentration after but it’s easily 1015 whatsoever. So everybody knows that runnings at a 33 minute effort is far above or significant above threshold, and you as a cyclist 15 or 30 minutes short effort, that’s threshold for sure. That doesn’t fit at all. That’s basically a disconnect.


Chris Case  10:18

So what are those components that you’re talking about that are the are underlying what the FTP is trying to estimate?



Well, I mean, we can chat about some components, for sure. But maybe we should, we should also step one step backwards and say, You should first be ask that question, not only what is the threshold power, and I don’t know if it’s 10 watts more accurate or whatsoever? Fair enough. It’s more important to understand, like, like I say, What does really creates a threshold? Like I say, why does it even exist? Because what is very funny, especially in the coaching business these days, is that everybody knows the term FTP, and everybody will sell your training program to increase FTP power, at least that’s what they’re claiming. Right. And the funny thing about the coaching business is that everybody buys into that. And you can buy training programs for 100 bucks, or 200, or 500 bucks per month, I don’t know, whatsoever, fair enough to increase your threshold power. But I would say without No offense, that 90% of the coaches trying to increase something that don’t understand. And that’s something very unique to the coaching business. Because when I go to a doctor, because I’ve paid I’m injured, I expect that the doctor knows why he prescribes me a certain treatment, or medicine, I would not like to take any medicine, this outside guy knowing the mechanism, how is this medicine actually works? Right? Mm hmm. Essentially, is my car breaks down, I go to a garage, I need to get it fixed. I just don’t buy any spare parts for the for the my car. If the guy in there doesn’t understand the mechanics wises spare parts fix what is broken in coaching is like, yeah, my experience is like a should do longer rides or sweet spot or paradise training, or polarized training or whatsoever. Two out of experience, hopefully get maybe your special power somewhat up. But without really understanding the mechanism behind it.


Trevor Connor  12:04

Right, just get back to what we were talking about before, which is that FTP has kind of become this buzz phrase. And everybody goes, Well, I need to get my FTP higher. And then you go on the group rides, and everybody’s gone. Well, my FTP is 330. So I can kick your butt. But it’s, as you said, nobody’s saying, Well, what does that mean metabolically? What’s going on in your body. And what I really liked that you brought up yesterday is, if you’re riding at 400, you’ve got two riders riding a 400 watts and you’ve you say that is their threshold, whether you want to call it FTP, or mlss, or a tea, or I actually wrote an article, we looked at thresholds. And because I’m a nerd, I looked at how many different definitions there were, and I came up with over 25, which is ridiculous. Just because you have two people riding at 400 watts. And that, let’s say is their threshold, it doesn’t mean that the the same things going on metabolically doesn’t mean that the energy is coming from the same sources. And that’s a really interesting point you brought up Yes, yeah.



So that’s the first step. So you got you have to take so to speak, the first step is you have to take that whatever your special powers wrangle What’s wrong, and what’s fun about it sounds pretty high. But still, whatever it is, that some people write, whatever it is, it’s it’s created differently. And when once you understand that, you will start to understand that you have to train differently. And that is something that inherently everybody knows that if I put two people to the same training program, even though they may have the same structural power, the outcome can be vastly different. And that’s because what they bring to the table in terms of metabolic profile, so to speak, is vastly different. So it’s important to understand was the key to really know how to improve your threshold power. It starts with understanding how it is created. If you go back to the to the to the first definition of so to speak threshold being maximum lactate steady state basically says, which is an old term, which is an old term, but this is how it all started, right, historically, is that saying there’s a maximum intensity so and running, it was only running speed and cycling as mechanical power output, it’s a maximum intensity, somebody can sustain. It was out lactate accumulating, okay, that’s a certain threshold how much it can accumulate a tolerance. But that’s the general understanding. And for that given reason, it is better to say that it is reduced threshold because something changes right below that power output intensity. There’s no lactate accumulating, accumulating lactate, welcome to steady state. And the boss said, there’s a constant time linear accumulation of lactate. So that is really that kind of threshold


Trevor Connor  14:23

exists. And we’ve talked about this before that if you put somebody on a ramp test in a lab, there’s these two physiological breakpoints, which usually in the labs, they’ll call vt one and v two and vt two is is pretty similar to your maximal lactate steady state or your threshold. It’s getting at the same idea, and it’s this, there are two breakpoints where something fundamentally is changing in you metabolically.


Chris Case  14:46

And that vt two point is the place at which your body is producing more than it can metabolize or re uptake in terms of lactate



was a vt means a V and vt comes from from ventilation. And there is a link there’s a question Between ventilation and lactate accumulation. If you’ve been there two days earlier, the UIC summit gave a presentation on glycolytic metabolism in juniors or in young athletes. And for example, what I’m trying to go here is that the ventilatory response you get from lactate accumulation can be different in different people, VT two, is statistically correlated, this magnetic steady state, but because there’s no other mechanics involved from going to lactate accumulation to ventilatory, answers or responses, it’s not quite the same. So this is meant to be the simple part of the explanation. We’ve already gone through the multiple thresholds, oh, they’re slightly different. And I think I’ve already confused myself. But so I mean, I mean, you know, I think it’s easier if you stick to one system, if you look at power output to the muscle, why don’t we? Why Why? Why do we want to make it more complicated than it is and jump up to, you know, jump up half a meter to the mouse and see what we measure there? Why don’t you just stick to the to the metal bullets that come out of some fucking muscle itself?


Chris Case  15:59

So So what you’re saying, in a sense is that FTP, if somebody has an FTP of 300, a certain portion of that figure is produced with one energy system, and a certain percentage of the figure is produced by another energy system, but you don’t really you don’t have any of that information, that underlying information about what the proportions are in FTP, whereas you do in in other ways? Well, my my analogy here is like,



think about your FTP power as your balance on your bank account. Right? It can be one k can be two K, whatever given time, but how you get there in terms of how much money you get in and how much money you spend can be vastly different within two people, right? We can have the same balance on the bank account, but how we get there can be totally different. And that’s what it is. So your maximum lactate, steady, steady FTP, power, whatever term, you want to use the analysis just simplified and come call it threshold. Sure, whatever. Yep. So your threshold power, so to speak, is the result of a certain lactate production? Mm, right, like I just put us at the muscles in the aerobic or more precisely, glycolytic metabolism. And obviously, as you know, from writing easy between intervals, you can burn lactate, right? And this is burned in aerobic metabolic. So the question that you need to answer what defines your power threshold is the balance between the lactate production and electric combustion. That’s all what it is. And similar to mine energy from you know, what’s a bank account on your balance on your on your bank account, it can be vastly different how you come up with the same number. So going back to the initial one to two riders have flown about 400 watts threshold power, their aerobic power, or the you know how highly they’ve trained the aerobic system. And how good develops a glycolytic system is so lactate production and lactate clearance or combustion, if you want to take it this way, can be vastly different. Mm hmm.


Trevor Connor  17:49

So just to give the the really high level summary of this is everybody’s heard. You have anaerobic energy, and you have a Robic energy. So anaerobic energy is produced through glycolysis. And it produces lactate, if you’re just doing work anaerobically you’re gonna produce a lot of lactate or aerobic work. That’s your your Krebs cycle oxphos electron transport chain. And let’s let’s get away from high school physiology here. It is a consumer of lactate. So your your slow twitch muscle fibers, which work very aerobically, they actually take up lactate from the blood and use it as a fuel. So this is what he’s talking about when he’s saying consumption versus production. If you’re using a lot of these big anaerobic fibers, you’re pumping a lot of lactate into the blood. If you’re using a lot of your slow twitch muscle fibers, you’re actually gonna be sucking up a lot of that lactate. And what’s really cool is you found that there there’s a rate of production and a rate of consumption. And, and kind of the magical point is when they’re in balance, correct, right. Yeah,



I mean, the credits for that, but it’s not if you think about it, and if you look at your whatever, just normal conventional lab test, so to speak, using a metabolic card, you can see that the oxygen consumption goes up more or less linear of his power output, right. So you look just looking at that you can understand that. But as you just said, if we agree on that lactate gets combusted, get clear on the aerobic system. As I, as I said, thinking about the recovery in between 20 hours while you’re doing that, while you keep moving, like why between two intervals, you’re not just lying flat down on the floor and wait. It’s because you know, you need to keep you need to keep moving in order to combust lactate. Inherently, every athlete in without a coach knows that he needs to keep moving, he needs to keep his aerobic engine running. In order to combust lactate, you can just look at your normal ram test from an app and look at the alternative, see, oh, yeah, the higher the hard I go, the more oxygen I will take out so the more lactate I could potentially burn. So that’s one part of the story. And then the other part of the story that’s a little bit more difficult to measure is what is your rate of lactate production actually, and those two sooner or later so to speak, the lactate production will catch up with the ability to combust lactate. And then you have your threshold.


Chris Case  20:01

Alright, so now we understand that there is this, this crossing point of these two components, let’s call them Let’s dive a little deeper into that Sebastian



threshold is composed by the electric production of electric combustion. And now as a next level question would be what drives what determines how much lactate is produced and how much it can combust. This is determined by the maximum power or production rate of the glycolytic system and the aerobic system and there is a very popular term has been around for decades for the air for your aerobic power, so to speak for your maximum aerobic energy production, which is called the view tramex as a lever to reverse a.on top of it, which means flow over time so to fluctuate or to for oxygen at maximum maximum maximum oxygen uptake. And this is a valid marker for your aerobic power because we know that with each molecule, each piece of oxygen goes into the muscle we produce energy in the system. And the counterpart for that so to speak is the maximum lactate production rate which is called Vla max. And pretty easy to understand, I guess what it is, is that the stronger one system is the more dominant it will be in sub maximum as f1 durance exercise so if your aerobic power if you have your two Max is higher, then it will be more dominant than any sub maximum exercise conditions like threshold based training, whatever it is, you’re doing a lot more


Trevor Connor  21:27

aerobic verse you’re doing



Yeah, if you have your max is higher, it allows you to cover more of the needed power most in an energy is in zero a password and if your Viola Max is higher than this, you know, so to speak, pushes in the forefront of things and becomes more dominant. So the higher your Viola maxes, the higher your electric production will be at any given intensity. And therefore, you have to imagine lactate production goes up the curve linear exponential. So, therefore, no sorry short the highest Max’s has lactate production is in endurance exercise and therefore the lower your special powers,


Trevor Connor  22:01

right because that cross point is going to happen lower right? Yeah, I



always say like my manager, he has like think about a flat stage and the Tour de France, you have a breakaway group, and you have to peloton versus sprinters, and the breakaway would cover as more or less linear more distance so they go steady speed. And then the peloton you know, keeps it easy in the beginning and then speed up as late as a catch so to speak. To simplify this again, the way to think of this and you you use this great analogy yesterday is a sprinter is going to have a great Vla Max, so they can hit these really high lactates which is really good for the last 200 meters because you want a whole lot of glycolysis happening as a sprinter. You want to put out that big power. there not so great in a time trial,


Trevor Connor  22:44

no coffee, right. And that’s kind of the issue you’re getting at is if you have a high Vla Max, you might be a good sprinter but your time trial is gonna suffer. And if you want to be a good time traveler you got to bring that Vla max down so you’re not gonna be winning the sprint and it’s seems like there’s no magic bullet of you can have both.



No, that’s a very small margin when you talk about mentioned lactate shuttling and moving the muscle fibers. And so there’s they’re very small margins that you can you can be a little bit better time traders as a sprinter, you can be a little bit better sprinter as a time travelers. But you can’t have both at the same time, so to speak. That’s Yeah, physically impossible,



predetermined by genetics



kind of predetermined by genetics, because you are because your muscle fiber distribution is a little bit determined by genetics. So you cannot change it a whole lot. But you can also change over long periods of time. We For example, we have a rider in you know, atem Bora, where we have data on his Cycladic system was vl MX, from now dating like 1112 years back, and we can see how it changes over his career. And we can also see his anaerobic power or power and breakaways and power in a text, how does this relate to that? So this, you can you can change it over a long time, you will not make a pure sprinter under pure climber? Sure. Right.



And we’re going to talk about that a little bit more later.


Trevor Connor  24:10

Yeah. And I think the exciting part that I’m really looking forward to is what you’re talking about with the training because the whole message that we’re trying to communicate here is you might have two riders with the same FTP. But let’s say one has a really high Vla max and the other one has a much lower Vla Max, that’s gonna have a big impact in how you train them. And it’s changed



everything about your fan, and


Chris Case  24:29

it should change a lot about how they ride and what they focus on as a rider. Potentially,



yes, if it changes, yeah, determines what you will be good at in terms of races, it changes how you should train to increase your threshold or if this is even valid, go and change the more it check it because it also changes your fuel combustion and therefore it may change your nutrition and a lot of things, right. There’s a lot of things, you know, so to speak. There’s a cascade of cascade of things that happen What is this is influencing? Yes, right. So, diet, high carb, low carb is better suited for you. There’s a lot of things that you can start to read out of that.


Trevor Connor  25:07

I had a chance to catch up with our mando Mr. Rossi, the owner and creator of the exert training system software. Well, they’re monda took a very different approach with his software then Sebastian, the thing that exert and inside have in common is they use on the road data to calculate key physiological variables exert has an analogue to Vla max called high intensity power. So asked if Armando has seen a similar balancing act between his high intensity power and aerobic power. We just talked to a Sebastian about this concept of Vla Max, which is your maximal rate of lactate production. And vo two Max and he had this very interesting point that you can’t really maximize both. So you think of a time trial or really good ability to time trial, it’s going to come at a cost of that that Vla Max, so your your sprint is not going to necessarily be as good. Likewise, if you’re a sprinter and really want to maximize your sprint, it’s going to come at a bit of a cost. So that aerobic side, so you’re gonna sacrifice some of your time trial. I know you don’t exactly have Vla Max and vo to max in your software. But do you see? I think you have have some, you look at threshold and you look at what you call high intensity power. Do you see a similar relationship? Where if you really want to maximize one it comes at a cost of the other? Or what do you see?



So we actually keep track of the the what we call and we allocate these actually into different buckets. So we do have a bucket and we track for for example, how much strain are you putting on your high intensity energy system, and how much strain are you putting on or your special system, it can be kind of analogous to the Vla scenario. And then when we track this information in separate separately, we actually see that they don’t train at the same rate, they don’t benefit at the same rate. And so what that translates to is that if you’re really looking to maximize your, let’s say, your special power or their aerobic capacity, that requires a certain amount of training, and it kind of builds in a certain way. And the same thing goes with high intensity energy that kind of builds in its own way. And they have different in our system, they have different time constants, but they take longer or shorter. And so you can you can train in both simultaneously, you can’t optimize both at the same time, because they require a different type of training. And the and the response to that training takes longer for your threshold of power, for example, in comparison to 30 to 50 managers. So, so yes, you can actually train them at the same time. But in terms of optimizing either one or the other, then that’s going to require a different focus and a different type of training.


Trevor Connor  28:13

So you basically saying, if you want to be a time traveler, you can still improve your sprint, but you still need to pick that focus is saying I really I really want to emphasize my time travel and skills. And the same thing for a sprinter sprinter might be able to improve their time trial. But they really need to focus in on their their sprint abilities. I kind of what you’re saying



precisely. What’s interesting to note, though, that you can’t work on your sprint without working on your special because it kind of builds upon each other. So in some ways, they are very closely related. But yes, you know, to improve your sprint power and prove your one minute power, for example, you want to be focusing on your one minute effort, right? And when you do so you can maximize your one minute effort. But that might come at a cost to your threshold power. depending upon how what level you’ve reached your threshold power, you might be a little bit of a trade off in in focusing your training on sprinting, you might feel a bit of a trade off with professionals and vice versa. Your time trial is gonna focus all your efforts on time traveling, you may see your sprint power start to deteriorate.


Trevor Connor  29:27

Let’s get back to Sebastian and how he determines Vla max in an athlete. Okay, so


Chris Case  29:32

knowing all of that about how exciting that could be in terms of insulin influencing the type of rider you are want to be the type of training you do. How do you determine these things? How do you determine Vla Max and vo two Max and it can be done out on the road



when determining view to max. I mean, that’s pretty straightforward, right? That’s kind of simple. I’ve been doing this in the lab for more than a decade, right you know, attach yourself to a metabolic cart to an island. That’s how hard Go. And then Vla Max, you know, it’s a little bit different animal here so to speak, right. So this Vla max v developed or, you know, I was in a group developing in a lab test for that, and it was validated using muscle biopsies, and it’s very, very solid, very reliable. But in the past, it still recovered lab testing. And by the way, this kind of method and as looking at things and being able to measure these things, by the way, what brought me personally into into the position of coaching the highest level of sports, because obviously anaerobic power glycolytic power more precisely is can be very decisive, and cycling and being able to quantify that and monitor to training and change it by training is very powerful. These days, now, you don’t need to do it necessarily in the lab anymore, right? So So we have, for example, a lot of jumbo, and Kimora who just using pretty simple few tests, to determine these things, and they don’t even need to interrupt the training buys, you know, dedicated testing sessions, they can just use training data, right to just do some lactate testing, doing the normal training routine, and can run these things it does the software and the software calculates very reliable vlm X for them and of your teammates.


Trevor Connor  31:14

So we were talking beforehand, you were a little concerned about the term mlss because the original test for MLS So to give you an idea of how miserable This is, is, you first do a ramp test to figure out approximately where your threshold is. And then you do a series of 30 minute time trials over like the course of a weak wattage is kind of five watts below five watts above or right at what we approximate your threshold at and see your lactate response ventually one of them is going to be pretty spot on hopefully with your mlss. You hope who wants to go through that every month?



Yes, it’s not it’s not feasible. And then you then even you run into a problem that’s, you know, you have some day to day variations. And I mean, five watts is something that seems to be more or less impossible, and even 10 watts determining by 10 watts, that something was in the course of one week. It’s It’s It’s super difficult, right. And we have done that. I mean, I’ve been there 1617 years ago, validating some of the stuff we were doing, for example, this is the LMS Test in the lab and stuff. The good thing was our predictions were pretty precise. And therefore you didn’t wouldn’t have to come back for a full week, but only like we had like one power put em at mlss and then the next one above. And so it was determined. But yeah, in general, it’s not very feasible. It’s not it’s not you can apply it you can’t apply to like coaching and especially not to coaching a virtual level, right, you have to come up with something that is that is practical, and especially repeatable because because the whole story is that you need to be able to monitor the development of automatics and BMX as often and as precise as possible. And therefore, MLS tests over the course of one week doesn’t really work.


Chris Case  32:54

You mentioned earlier that riders are good at taking their their data from rides and throwing it into the software and it’s spitting out the numbers. Is there a story there that is worth telling in terms of how it does that? Or is it just a complex math going on behind the scenes? Well, I



mean, it is very complex math, and this is maybe why it’s only out now recently, like I said, the terms and measurements has been there. More than a decade ago, we have been using things like BMX since as I said since highroad times hdc times taking example, Tony Martin and Tony Martin turn professional 2008 we have measured his BMX and we knew that it was about approximately 35 30% too high for being a good time drivers. And so what you can do now you can calculate what would be his threshold power if he drops it by 30%. And there you see the potential how much more power you can get up up to four time trial. And then it’s pretty pretty simple math to come up how fast he can go and then you assign this guy and if you did this was a lot of other writers you know scouting out talent bringing it back to these days and and into the software it’s not as simple as that you just throw in any kind of training data into the software right it still has to be a dedicated data set that follows some rules right. So you cannot just make up for example mixer for example, climbing data out of the saddle of his writing as a flat as a set as this is not how it works, because this is not accurate enough, right this is you cannot do a very precise physiological assessment. On the other hand, the algorithms are versatile enough to not limit to you to one specific protocol but allowing your kind of freedom to say I can use whatever eight minute effort four minute effort one minute effort, two five minute effort whatsoever and use a power output. And for example, like the virtual teams are doing it using some simpler lactate measurements after that which the cultures as a director can do out on zero here and run this into the software.


Trevor Connor  34:55

So I got to say it was actually fun at the end of your towards the end of your your presentation yesterday. You had us actually put data into the software. And then we map the Vla Max, we mapped you know, all these things we’ve been talking about today to determine what is this person’s threshold. And then you had us play with their Vla Max and vo two max to see what we could do the threshold and very quickly got this athlete from 280 watts up to 400 watts. Nobody’s like, Whoa, so So how do you train them? Like No, I’m just having this graph to my athlete and say do this and just just movie Vla max like this. Okay. So, but maybe we should get into how do you train this? You also mentioned yesterday that we’ll vo two Max is trainable. It’s fairly slow moving Vla max can actually be raised and lowered quite rapidly and quite a lot over the course of the season. So you brought up this whole idea of a lot of the training is about either bringing your Vla max down or bringing it up. So maybe we should we should head in that direction.



Yeah, I mean, the training of your turmeric and viola mix is quite different. And it’s I think, again, it’s if you look at it, it’s pretty easy to understand, because you have, as you already mentioned, you have different muscle fiber types involved. And then the V automax. And terms of a muscle muscular level is happening in the mitochondria, right? It’s one part of the muscle cell, mitochondria even party has its own genome. So it has its own genes, its own signaling processes. And glycolysis is happening in the cytosol. So outside the mitochondria, so you can easily understand that it’s it’s two different systems, right? It’s not happening at the same place, I wouldn’t necessarily say that in general Vla Max, you can change quite a bit up and down, I would differentiate between a click Change, which can be for example, induced by just a change, a drastic change of nutrition, right going super, super low carb, the change that but it’s not there to stay like if you really want to say like, you want to name it this way, a structural change, then vlm x change is actually taking much, much longer than a change view to Max, we automax on the muscular level, mitochondrial protein has like a half time of like two to three weeks. So you can turn it around quite quick, you can apply very, very heavy load that helps, you know, destroying a lot of mitochondria. So you’re losing view to max. But to really bring it up constantly and consistent and robust increase of your to max. I mean, this is your, you know, consistent training, so to speak, right? So this is where your consistent training over the years kicks in, so to speak better. So the one thing I am going to say to that though, and again, please please correct me. But


Trevor Connor  37:30

when you’re dealing with like qolsys, as he said, this is in the cytosol. And it’s entirely a enzymatic process. So to a degree just it can be changed by by RNA expression. And certainly if you want to change your long terms, probably just some epigenetic changes. When you’re talking about vo to Max, you’re talking about mitochondrial density, you’re talking about vascularization you’re talking about a lot of things that are structural and whenever you’re dealing with something structural that’s going to take longer for big changes and something that’s purely enzymatic right. So there is a bit more opportunity to change Vla max quicker than you’re going to change vo to max



beside one thing. Vla Max is highly linked to a muscle fiber distribution there and there you go to a point where you can change as quickly


Trevor Connor  38:15

as possible on the slowest change as you’re still debating whether you can change fiber



exactly that’s why I say is so quick change shirt especially indoors like you say on an enzymatic level, you know, taking away the fuel for the enzymes using them last year a good good chance of training the adaptation on a structural level. If you take a lot of time because either mentally you will you are facing the issue to make your fast twitch glycolytic fibers and to fast twitch oxidative fiber so to speak. And this can this can require some time.


Trevor Connor  38:43

Okay, and Chris, this is where you’re supposed to say science and arts. Yeah.


Chris Case  38:46

And I hope no one out there is drowning at this point. Let’s bring it back up to the surface. I’m a time trial list. Writer writer x isn’t no I’m not me. I’m a bad time trellis. Actually. No writer x out there is a time trial list. What system? Should he be focused on influencing? And how does he go about doing that?



In order to understand what you need to train for for time trial, you first need to start understanding the effort. And so the first question would be how long is the time to write so to speak? I’ll be talking more about the long time trial like World Championships one hour, or are we talking more about 20 minutes 15 minutes one because a one hour episode you’re writing close to threshold you’re not writing extra short. That’s another story maybe but a shorter one, you’re writing closer to threshold, but you might have some corners and some acceleration. So they’re a lot of times right boss Rashard, but I think what’s important to understand that that is a sweet spot so to speak for your Vla Max, there’s an optimal range. And that’s quite different to the vo to Max Max very straightforward, the higher the better, right. It’s only one thing better than a big engine even bigger engine. So the automatics as high as possible for your time drive, and then real MX as low as possible, but as high as needed. So, balancing act balancing act. Exactly. And this is true also for the road sprinter. Because Don’t forget that your total front sprinter is not only sprinting, but he has to complete the Tour de France and maybe turn okay before it comes to the actual sprint. It’s also balancing just on a higher level talking about the Vla Max, and to give you the scope of that, how important or the magnitude of V max on that is, you think about your true Max, what is the difference in your Tour de France sprinter versus your Tour de France GC rider slash winner? What is the difference of the automax? Talking about kilogram five milliliters talking about like not even 10%. What is the difference in Vla? Max, it’s threefold 300% between those two metrics, right? So there’s a lot of room for changes in vlm. x and this very, very significant influence on your Android Performance.


Trevor Connor  41:01

So if somebody was going to focus on time traveling, and they came in they were you. They went through your system and found that they had a very high Vla Max, what would they want to do in order to get that Vla max down what sort of training what they want to do?



Right, so if you want to get down you vlm x by training, the mechanism that you need to understand is you need to target your ft fibers, you need to target those muscle fibers, which actually accountable for producing a lot of lactate fast twitch fibers. As fast twitch fibers, Zeki and zoas have a higher higher recruitment threshold compared to the st fibers. So you need to incorporate some training as threshold or slightly below threshold, you can do that a hack so to speak by increasing the torque, so lowering the RPM, which will because it’s a higher force trigger more ft fibers, even though you’re writing sub threshold, and then you have to do as this kind of thing is repeatedly because this is what endurance training is about. And this is how you change your muscle fiber train in January, you have consistency, you have consistency, a typical saying and again, this is where the science links back to your link links back to a lot of people seem to revert. If you do a lot of kindness, what may be called sweet spot or special intervals, you may be able to increase your threshold power compared to your maximum aerobic power of your max. And this is a mechanism the mechanism is partly decreasing your Vla Max, right. So there’s kind of training 234 times a week, again and again and again, hitting your muscle fibers with sub threshold work at a low rpm to to to increase the effect a little bit. This is kind of the standard repertoire of training methods for I guess the most time trial coaches out there.


Chris Case  42:51

Is there a real world example you can use to explain? You talked about seeing Tony Martin’s data early on and that he was 35%? above where you wanted him to be? How did you get him to where he is when he was World Champion three years in a row or four years? Four years in a



row? Not in a row? Unfortunately, but


Chris Case  43:09

well, four times four times four times total?





Chris Case  43:12

Is that a good? Is there a helpful story for listeners out there is that too?



Well, I mean, for Tony Martin, one of the main secret to success very, very simple. So without going too much into into the science here, consistency, Martin is one of the most consistent athlete when it comes to when it comes to training. This obviously helps this producing BMX, as the dust was proving to max Zed really, really helps for him to have a very, very high view to max. So very high aerobic power, and then specifically reducing vrms coming back to that story. When he when he signed on for the team and you turned professional actually, in 2008 his fury Max was a little bit higher 30 35% higher than what you would want it to be four votes last time try performance. And then again, you can actually you can pretty easily calculate the additional threshold power TT power you will see for half an hour an hour drive and his training Incorporated, you know, similar training where we just talked about regular training, subthreshold often done in the climbs this slightly decreased RPM, so higher torque higher force, and then we will switch you know, we would we would vary that and different durations, we would actually start doing this on the time trial bike so doing 60 RPMs at whatever 400 watts on the TT bike in order to bring this number down in a very, very specific kind of of training and then you can look at this, you know as development in you know, he became two to three times I think he ended up on the podium at the World Championships and 2011 I think it was when he claimed his first title. So you can see this step by step progression. If you look at the results and if I look at the power output you can see the steps are like 1020 watts every year until the LED arrives where it is


Chris Case  45:00

Alright, so On the flip side, if you’re a sprinter, you feel like you’ve got that finishing speed and you come in you plug all your numbers into into inside. And that Vla max number is particularly low. what’s the what’s the opposite? How do you bring that number up to where it is in that range that you want to see?



Right? So yeah, so so if your goal is to increase Vla Max, or glycolytic power to bring it back since this way, in road cycling, one of the first fundamentals, which you have to take care of is to don’t do anything in training that decreases it. So that that might sound too simple. But that’s really the first part to look at. It gives you that example, the final stage of the Tour de France, the sprint on the Champs Elysees, the power output is significantly lower than it isn’t the first week, because you have put so sprinters through three weeks, a lot of climbing a lot of sub threshold, never glycogen replenished. A lot of slightly lowered RPM, so slightly higher torque and this is a safe bet day in day out to decrease your bill MX. So the first thing you have to avoid these kind of things, right? Because it doesn’t make a lot of sense to try something specifically in training to increase your glycolytic power. But on the other hand, do some stuff which which keeps it low, the said is avoid anything like this week, but substitute stuffs threshold stuff, and then to actively increase it two ways you can do it, which worked very, very well is a lot of gym training, squatting, bench pressing, mimicking similar efforts, especially in terms of power output. So it doesn’t really help if you have high for slow movement and three seconds rest in between each repetition. So you need to have similar effort, fast movement, high speeds, high power output in the gym, and then you can replicate similar things out on the road doing sprints between 10 seconds and 30 seconds. This is a decent amount of rest in between, in between repetitions, or series of repetitions More precisely, than what’s a decent amount. Well, I



mean, yeah, I



mean, I mean, let’s say if you do you know this, this Greipel, I was using training programs to increase to increase his Vla Max was like sub maximum set of 10 seconds alternating is 50 seconds rest. But then after a series of 10, he would have like half an hour easy, right. And that was a safe bet to increase his maximum spend capacity before the total promise, for example. And if you go along with a sprint, like even if you’ll go from only from 10 seconds to 20 seconds, you might be better off tripling z, the recovery time so to speak, but then you have to be very careful. So if you are in this example where you say yeah, I’m good sprint, I just want to increase it I want to get this edge on the magazine’s this might work. If you apply this kind of training to your GC TT kind of athlete, you have to be aware that there’s not really any energy metabolism that can provide the energies for those kind of soft springs and what’s actually happening. You’re overloading your BlackBerry system and you won’t see a good direction in terms of increasing Vla max there so as a very fine app so to speak and what you want to do what you really want to do is you want to look at at which percentage of your bureau max so to speak what percentage of your bureau max do you actually use as a strength exercise right similar you would use a one repetition maximum in the gym or people base their their training based on percentage of FTP or percentage of fobo to max you want to start using your base in your training a percentage of your MX Tony Martin is a good example on one side of things let’s let’s hear an example on the flip side of that, yeah, so if we go back to that the two extremes so to speak and we you take a sprinter on the other hand, what you see in a sprinter during the course of one season, you see a decrease in BMX right because you have all those races set was a total frogs like poison for you like a medic system right in France for for three consecutive weeks. Never like 100 finished so for a sprinter during the course of one season, you will easily see a decrease in vl MX and so you often are this sometimes during the season you have to you know kind of stop your you know you’re racing problem interrupt your train racing program have to go back to the drawing board. prescribe me a totally different trains and what will you what you would normally do to bring ops is number again, and we have tremendous success, especially last lately with service inside. If you look at embora and their sprint successes season, how they manage the athletes and if you look at guys like like Sam Bennett, for example, how he managed his sprint performance over a three week stage race, right? There’s a lot more knowledge to that during the season. You need to monitor that because once you see Vla max decreasing, that’s like a little bit like a pre warning system because then you know a couple of weeks later, you’re spread power You know, the fadeaway finishes. Yeah, exactly. And so that’s what you know, I did prescribe already some some years ago, and that might include going to into the gym again in May. And that’s, for example, something very popular was this was Tim Bora they go to the gym, they could not have gym work with our guys. And that’s also explains for example, the increase of power output and the strength like if I go back to the early days of highroad you have been able to win a sprinter the Tour de France is like 1500 watts 1600 now these days, you’re getting nowhere is that number because you need 18 1900 watts convinced that saying if your 80 kilogram sprinter right, and this is much much better understood. So I said we, you know, similar to jumbo rocks was was inside and they have grown have begun on several stages a tour de france this year. And I have this you know, as a story I was giving. I was giving some education for their coaches in their in their service corps in in the Netherlands. And in the coffee break we just chatted about, you know, the upcoming race season because in the wintertime Sunday, I’m coming in season chatted to the coach of grundtvig who’s a former coach of mosquito and he understands his concept very well to use that kind of concept to try it out. He said you know what I heard a Gripen has to do with the spring classic. And he was like cheering and said fair enough. Because Ben drivers It was a spring classic. He’s not going he’s not going to be able to bring up his glory power and time to the to the front. There you go. And you can’t survive the classics talking about the sweetspot you can’t survive and be successful in the classics is Vla max of a sprinter.


Chris Case  51:32

And it blunts everything



yeah, you have to you have to lower it for the endurance part of things and then you need to bring it up again for for the tour van and Peter Peter Peter Saigon is another example for that right you can see that you could tell now understanding singing, but you can tell that maybe it’s gonna mess us a little lower compared to a killer or Greipel or greenery and because he’s doing much, much better during the couple of classes but he still is changing. Right? He still rocks on it like he started testing his yellow max or Canada times and he still needs to work on it during the season and change it.


Trevor Connor  52:05

We have Neil Henderson, the owner of Apex coaching and Rebecca rush professional ultra endurance cyclists their thoughts and Vla Max, and whether a rider has to pick between a strong sprint or a strong time trial. What’s your thought in Vla? Max? Is this a valuable tool? Or give



me a Yeah, I


Neal Henderson  52:22

think if you think about lactate flux effectively is what that is absolutely massive lactate is not a you know, evil byproduct it is a fuel that the body is using it is produced in different amounts depending on the intensity. And so your ability to actually both produce a high amount and then be able to clear that at a high rate actually is quite critical to success. So it’s you get that you know via looking at things in a little bit different way than we have some of our say, classic laboratory you know, just a lactate profile or just a vo two max. But absolutely, it’s something that we’ve looked in different ways different sports and lactate clearance curves after even like Wingate test as an example of what happens. And it’s that that’s the important thing of moving forward and understanding things like the LA max and the type of training that can impact that in the production and clearance side. That’s really important.


Trevor Connor  53:12

And and how do you feel that his idea of training should be somewhat designed? his coaching is a lot more complex than this but he talked about training to lower your Vla Max, if you’re more time trial style writer versus training to actually raise your Vla Max, if you’re a sprinter. You


Neal Henderson  53:29

read that, effectively, it’s the specificity of what you’re getting ready for. So you can’t be great at all things. You need to be great at the things that matter the most. And sometimes just not as bad at the things that don’t matter most. So Rebecca, I’m not going to have her do a lot of standing start efforts or five second, you know, a lactate type of training since it’s not super specific to anything she does. That 30 minute interval.



Oh man. Exactly.


Neal Henderson  53:56

does matter, negotiate with your coach, get


Trevor Connor  53:58

it down to two and a half?


Neal Henderson  54:01

Go harder.



Amazing. Now I can race for 27 hours, but like a three minute interval just seems so long.


Neal Henderson  54:11

To me, 190 seconds.


Chris Case  54:14

Dad, I don’t know what that says about you, Rebecca, but that is totally weird.


Trevor Connor  54:21

Let’s get back to the show. All right,


Chris Case  54:23

Sebastian, you’re on the clock. Now you’ve been working on this stuff for the last 20 years of your life. You’ve got one one minute to really help listeners out there understand what they can take away from this science and all the things that you’ve helped develop over the last few decades.



So I would wish that the main takeaway for listeners is to start thinking about and hopefully understanding more about how is it power that you see on your power meter because everything these days everybody is on a power meter. How’s this power is actually composed and understands that you are the threshold power, for example, is not just one, you know, generate numbers, it’s somehow it comes up, but like this all other biological systems as the reason for that. And when you start to understand what causes this threshold, you cannot effectively start to train and change this threshold power, just as you would do. Solving other problems in your life. Like I said, You’re sick, your car broke down, whatever, you see somebody who’s an expert to understand why this happens, and how to fix it. And you should ask for the same quality of training prescription when it comes to increasing the power output of the bike.


Trevor Connor  55:34

So my take home is numbers. And I think one of the themes here is that numbers are meaningless if you don’t understand what’s behind them. And if you don’t understand the number, it can take you really bad places. And that’s always been one of my issues with FTP is that a lot of people throw that term around, throw that number around, and don’t understand at all what that means. And what I’ve really enjoyed about this is we went into the physiology of explaining, here’s what’s going on in the body. So my take home for everybody is, is you’ve created this tool, based on 20 years of very validated research, and you’ve made a lot of really good points for it. So any of you out there who are thinking about, this sounds really cool. I want to check out what this is about. Don’t go into it and go, Oh, cool more numbers. Instead, take the time, learn it, understand it, understand what’s going on, so that I’m particularly talking to the coaches out there. You can use this very powerful tool to help your athletes and understand what’s going on in them.



My five seconds is thanks, Sebastian, for joining us today.



Thanks for having me.


Chris Case  56:40

That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk@velonews.com Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play and when you’re there, be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. Become a fan of fast doc on facebook@facebook.com slash velonews. And on twitter@twitter.com slash velonews. Fast doc is a joint production between velonews and Connor coaching thoughts and opinions expressed on faster are those of the individual for Trevor Connor Sebastian Weber, Armando ma stretchy Neil Henderson. Rebecca rush. I’m Chris case. Thanks for this