There are many individuals now offering coaching for cyclists, runners and triathletes.  Whether you are a complete novice or aiming for the next World Championships there will be someone who claims they can help your performance.  You can even get a download of a training plan from the internet, or from your favourite magazine….but you know my view on those!

What further amazes me is that many of these “coaches” have little ability or knowledge to determine strengths and weaknesses in fitness other than undertaking an FTP test, or looking at race performance.  Whilst better than nothing, it clearly doesn’t highlight the full story.

My final concern, is the level of qualifications of many out there offering support.  OK, there are some great former athletes who offer coaching, but do they have the relevant physiological knowledge?  There are some sports science students that are offering services, but many lack the breadth or depth of knowledge that is sport specific.  Then there are those with a 6 week personal training qualification…..aaaarrrrgggghhhh!  The best one I came across recently was someone who took up triathlon at University a few (very short) years ago, and  is now charging top £££ for his services.  …and he was at University doing an economics degree!   I think you get my point!

University of Cape Town, not a bad environment to study in  🙂

That said, there are many great coaches out there.  There are also a few other people offering the high levels fitness testing services that we offer at Sportstest.  My advice, consider carefully where you go to get your support.  The fees charged are not always a reflection of the level of service you will get!

But, rant over, what’s my point….  The services we provide at Sportstest are not only backed by research, much of the research that is used to support your training plan was actually undertaken by myself, Dr Garry Palmer.  For instance,  were you aware that the first ever investigation reported in the scientific literature observing and reporting on the workloads of elite and professional cyclists during stage racing was work undertaken by me?

Heart rate responses during a 4-d cycle stage race

this research was then used to completely reassess the way physiological laboratory testing was undertaken.

As part of my PhD numerous subsequent studies were then undertaken to compare the validity of laboratory testing to riding in real life, and further examining performance on the road.  These helped completely reshape scientific testing and analysis of elite performance, both in my research and in the methods now used internationally.  The culmination of my studies looked at actually replicating the physiological responses of elite riders observed during racing, and replicating these under controlled laboratory conditions, and observing the impact on performance of different riding styles:

Metabolic and performance responses to constant-load vs. variable-intensity in trained cyclists.

This investigation involved looking at at a number of different performance and physiological markers, including taking muscle biopsies from elite riders following constant and variable intensity work, and now forms the basis of many of the approaches that I use when prescribing training zones, or advising and coaching athletes.

In summary the paper highlighted the impact (and benefits) of riding in a steady-state manner on subsequent performance.  For me, it comes back to my initial statements, to get the best from your training hours, you NEED to understand YOUR physiology and take the guesswork from your training.  This is something I try to do with every Sportstest I undertake, whatever the sport, or the level of the athlete that is coming to see me.

I finish with a reminder, or final question, are you training or just riding?

Fitness testing at Sportstest
Your Sportstest provides more than just an FTP value, or VO2max test.  Do not underestimate the value of data driven training!


Food for thought again, but happy to answer any questions about how I can help your performance, or chat endlessly about my research  🙂