Maximal testing is mentally draining and can take away from your current training, this makes it difficult to do every week. But what if there was a weekly submaximal test that you could substitute for warm ups before hard workouts, was able to monitor performance, and tell you if you are fatigued and shouldn’t continue with the workout. Introducing the LSCT.
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Monitoring changes in performance is all about the balance between training load and recovery. You’ve heard me harp on about this before, but even armed with the knowledge of testing, the impracticability of throwing the odd test in every 4-6 weeks becomes difficult.
The major difficulties are that maximal tests, going flat out for a set amount of time, are hard to work up to mentally, and take time to recover from. That’s why it’s hard to slot it into a program.
How about a short session that helps guide your workout by giving you an idea of how ready you are to start the real work. Sound good? Enter Dr. Robert P Lamberts and the Lamberts and Lambert submaximal cycle test (LSCT).
Lamberts developed this test with the purpose of monitoring and predicting changes in cycling performance. The test was developed as part of Lamberts PhD with the University of Cape Town and Sports Science Institute of South Africa. It’s quite an influential part of the world when it comes to sports science, and one of Lamberts actual supervisors was Professor Timothy D. Noakes.
The LSCT has shown to be reliable, able to predict cycling performance, and also able to track changes in training status. By asking the rider to cycle at a constant ‘stress’ (keeping HR the same), the rider or coach is able to look at the power developed for that given stress the body is under.
Through this, the LSCT is able to track changes in training status and detect the consequences of sharp increases in training loads which seem to be associated with accumulating fatigue. For example, as you get fitter, heart rate decreases during exercise at a given workload.
The use of the LSCT as a gauge will further help you to learn and trust your body in relation to the tests you put in place. Get familiar with the numbers – even if you have a coach. Burry’s coach didn’t sleep at his house to watch him every time he got on a bike. You have to take some responsibility for your own body – listen to it.
Now that I’m done with a little preachy preachy. Have I convinced you enough to give it a go? I really believe you have nothing to lose here – if you’re listening to this, and you wouldn’t consider yourself well trained or aren’t a couple years deep into cycling, even if it’s just riding around – then this might be too much for you. Ask me if you’re unsure.
Ultimately you want to do the LSCT before every hard or key training session, but you also want to place it on a day that your complete recovery may be in question.
How do you perform the LSCT?
Here it is. http://www.scienceandcycling.com/lsct/how-to-perform-lsct/. But a basic overview: It’s 3 stages, well 4 really. But at each stage you are measuring 3 things:
- RPE Borg’s 6-20 scale
- HRR – Heart Rate Recovery
You will want to take note, and record these through the stages. But should get a feel for this over time. At the end you will need to have quantified the test through your power during the stages, your HRR at 1 minute after you stop pedalling, and your RPE of the overall effort.
Do your best to keep the conditions as similar week to week as possible i.e. the time you train, the time between eating and starting the session, caffeine intake, sleep duration. The more you can standardise the conditions, the more confident the coach can be in their interpretation of the data
Trying to hit 90% HR max is a skill. The first time you try this you may find you start too hard. 3 minutes isn’t very long for you to hit the target, so do your best to judge the intensity / effort needed – and store this information for the next week
not consume caffeine 3 hours before the test
do not talk during the test and during the heart rate recovery (HRR) period
minimize confounding factors (distraction factors – such as other cyclists taking to you while you are performing the LSCT)
Do your best not to fidget in the 90s recovery period and maintain an upright position – gravity affects HR too!
Alright so now you’ve done all this – what are you looking for?
An improved training status or decrease in training status: http://www.scienceandcycling.com/lsct/basic-interpretation-lsct/
Implement it and let me know how it works for you.
Photo Credit: kevineddy on Flickr