Cycling Training Tips

How to training for anaerobic endurance

How to train for anaerobic endurance

Are you looking to improve your anaerobic endurance? If so, you’re in luck. In this post, we’ll discuss the best way to train for anaerobic endurance. Keep reading to learn more.

I guess all of you have tried this kind of activity on your bike. We are talking about biking at intensities that can only be maintained for a very few minutes or maybe just seconds.

These jumps require anaerobic power, which can be trained separately in your training program. Several tests are made to measure maximum oxygen uptake in the lab, but unfortunately, there are no similar possibilities to measure anaerobic power.

Thus, we have to develop indirect methods to evaluate anaerobic power. Testing with a power meter will be the best evaluation of anaerobic capacity for most riders: Find your average power output in a 60sec. all-out test.

Lactate is not responsible for fatigue

One of the biggest myths about anaerobic power is that lactate is responsible for fatigue.

Lactate is just a piece of sliced sugar, and a couple of studies have shown that lactate itself does not produce fatigue. One of the studies I will present in the future claims that lactate protects the muscles from fatigue. There are probably many reasons why we determine exercise at severe intensity.

Road cyclists don´t train enough anaerobic power

Road cycling is an aerobic discipline, with more than 98% of the work covered by aerobic metabolism. Thus, most cyclists don’t offer much attention to the training of anaerobic processes.

Road cyclists usually don’t include anaerobic exercises in their training regimens because they don’t want to fatigue their muscles too much.

However, if you want to be able to perform at your best in races, you need to include some anaerobic workouts in your training, sprints and hill climbs are great exercises to increase your anaerobic capacity.

Instead, they train for aerobic power and focus on lifting their anaerobic threshold. Having a high VO2 max and a high anaerobic threshold (also known as functional threshold power) are the two most important physiological factors with an impact on your performance.

Nevertheless, many races have breaking points where anaerobic power is essential. If you don’t have enough anaerobic power, you will not drop the riders behind you. You need anaerobic workouts that gives you that extra punch in your attacks.

Strong riders don’t win if they lack anaerobic capacity

If you feel comfortable during the race, just waiting for the moment to attack, then unsuccessful attacks might be caused by insufficient anaerobic power/sprint. What happens is that the whole bunch reacts when you start to jump and catch you quickly because there is not enough punch in your jump.

Also, the other riders may be extraordinarily aware of your attacks since you have shown that it’s not a problem for you to stay in the group.

So how can we solve this problem? Focused anaerobic exercises with a power meter!

Anaerobic exercises have never been easier than now. Power meters make it much easier to produce the correct workload during the high intensity interval training (pacing control during a 40second interval is difficult without a power meter).

If you have been riding on the track, you will know how much influence pacing control has on performance. I guess that we all have tried to start too fast on time trials on the roads, but it hurts so much more when it happens in short events like a 1000m or just in a short interval.

If you cannot maintain watts at the end of an interval, I’m sure that a power meter will help your pacing, and after a couple of months, you will see that your training is more effective and gives better results.

Boost Your Anaerobic system

I have made a specific anaerobic cycling workout that athletes could use to develop a higher level of anaerobic endurance. This program is a part of the indoor training programs.

15 minutes – warm-up (increasing intensity)

5 x (60sec. maximum power + 6 min. recovery)

This program is designed to increase your anaerobic capacity. During the intervals, the body is exposed to enormous amounts of anaerobic metabolites. After only a few of these sessions, your body will be better to work in an anaerobic environment.

Please remember, that this skill is primarily used in competitions, where jumps and sprints demand anaerobic efforts. However, this training art is exhausting, and road cyclists should mainly use it for competition preparation. While aerobic exercise is important for overall fitness, anaerobic exercise is what will help you push your limits and perform at your best when it matters most.

When training for a road cycling event, it is important to focus on both aerobic exercise and anaerobic processes. While most of the work is done aerobically, anaerobic power is still essential for making attacks and dropping other riders. It is clear that aerobic exercise should always be your main priority, however, never underestimate the value of performing an anaerobic workout as part of your race preparation.

For this reason, cyclists should train both their aerobic and anaerobic systems. VO2 max is the most important physiological factor for road cycling, but high anaerobic power is also essential. By focusing on both energy systems, cyclists can have the best possible performance on race day.

If you want to find more inspiration for anaerobic exercises, you should take a closer look at my article with race-winning interval training.

What is anaerobic capacity? (exercise physiology explained)

Anaerobic capacity refers to the body’s ability to produce energy without the use of oxygen. During high-intensity exercise, such as sprinting or weightlifting, the body relies on anaerobic metabolism to provide energy for muscle contractions.

The primary fuel source for anaerobic metabolism is stored glycogen in the muscles. When this glycogen is broken down, it produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is used by muscle cells for energy. However, unlike aerobic metabolism, which uses oxygen and produces ATP more efficiently, anaerobic metabolism produces ATP at a much faster rate but also generates lactic acid as a byproduct.

Anaerobic capacity can be improved through specific training that involves high-intensity intervals and maximal effort sprints. This type of training helps increase the body’s ability to tolerate and buffer lactic acid, allowing athletes to perform at higher intensities for longer periods of time.

In summary, anaerobic capacity is a crucial component of athletic performance during high-intensity activities. By improving this capacity through specialized training programs, athletes can enhance their power output and endurance while reducing fatigue and delaying the onset of muscle soreness.

5 thoughts on “How to train for anaerobic endurance”

  1. I am seeking a way to become more efficient on a rock climbing route. Sometimes routes can be anywhere from a 100ft to 140 feet. Climbing at a consistant rate of 20-30 minutes. I am wondering if anaeroobic endurance program could effectively help me in maintaining a longer tolerance for delaying/improving fatigue?

  2. I don’t think you shall focus too much on anaerobic endurance for such climbing. It is better to build a large aerobic engine thus improving your 5 and 20-30min maximum power. The higher percentage of your work delivered by aerobic processes, the longer you will delay fatigue. Anaerobic work might help you in short attacks or bursts during the climb, but the primary focus should be aerobic performance (vs body weight).

  3. 15 minutes – warm up (increasing intensity)
    5 x (60sec. maximum intensity + 6 min. recovery)

    What do you mean “maximum intensity”?

    Max. Intensity means heavy load but slow tempo.

    But it can also mean lighter load but faster tempo.


  4. You just have to make your bike roll as fast as possible. If you have a power meter then try to maintain as high a power output as possible.

    If you do the intervals on a track it could be e.g. 3 rounds of 250m = 750m as fast as possible.

  5. Michael Gallagher

    I was wondering if you are interested testing out any programs/ideas geared towards Cyclocross? It’s pretty much all intensity, but quite a bit of up down, up down regarding max intensity.

    I’ve developed a pretty successful HR program and just transfered it to power last year. Basically the specifics of the power produced the best year ever, with some garnering of UCI points.

    If you do another “project” keep me in mind….cyclocross is the fastest growing cycling branch JFYI.

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