Purpose: To compare the intensity distribution during cycling training among elite track cyclists who improved or decreased in ergometer power at 4 mM blood lactate during a 15 wk training period.
Methods: 51 young male German cyclists (17.4 ± 0.5 y; 30 international, 21 national junior finalists) performed cycle ergometer testing at the onset and at the end of a 15 wk basic preparation period, and reported their daily volumes of defined exercise types and intensity categories. Training organization was compared between two subgroups who improved (Responders, n = 17; DeltaP(La4) x kg(-1) = +11 ± 4%) or who decreased in ergometer performance (Non-Responders, n = 17; DeltaP(La4) x kg(-1) = -7 ± 6%).
Results: Responders and Non-Responders did not differ significantly in the time invested in noncycling specific training or in the total cycling distance performed. They did differ in their cycling intensity distribution. Responders accumulated significantly more distance at low intensity (<2 mM blood lactate) while Non-Responders performed more training at near threshold intensity (3-6 mM). Cycling intensity distribution accounted for approx. 60% of the variance of changes in ergometer performance over time. Performance at t1 combined with workout intensity distribution explained over 70% of performance variance at t2.
Conclusion: Variation in lactate profile development is explained to a substantial degree by variation in training intensity distribution in elite cyclists. Training at <2 mM blood lactate appears to play an important role in improving the power output to blood lactate relationship. Excessive training near threshold intensity (3-6 mM blood lactate) may negatively impact lactate threshold development. Further research is required to explain the underlying adaptation mechanisms.