I recently completed a piece of research work in university on predicting endurance performance. We put a number of participants through a 10km cycle trial, along with a number of physiological tests.

The Test Itself

The aim of the present study was to determine which physiological factors best predict 10 km cycling TT performance. The results clearly show VO2 max as being the primary predictor, with economy also providing significant contribution. Because of this, the hypothesis that VO2 max and LT will be found to be the strongest predictors, can be partly accepted. These findings lend support to Carlsson (2015), who found VO2 max to correlate strongly in cross country skiing. Furthermore in 2000, increased VO2 max was linked to improved performance in ultra endurance triathletes.

Contrary to this, earlier found VO2 max to be a poor indicator of cycling performance. However, the study focused on professional and elite cyclist, whereas the current study was completed by mixed ability, university students. This may provide a rationale for differences in results. Another factor to consider, is the method of gas collection and analysis. Douglas bags and different branded gas analysis systems have been found to produce significantly different results.


EnduranceSome Other Past Research

Past research has highlighted Lactate Threshold as being a strong indicator of TT performance in cyclist. Despite this, LT was not found to be an effective predictor in the current study. A number of previous studies only had 9 and 10 participants, respectively. Varying results may be down to difference participation, with the current study consisting of 199 participants.

Differences in participants may provide an explanation for a lack of correlation between other studies. Peak power output has been used as an t accurate predictor of time trial performance. However, the focus study used only trained cyclist. In the current study, the mixed ability of participants may have been capable of producing high PPO, but unable to use it effectively. 


What Does This Actually Mean?

Practical application of the results suggest that VO2 max should be the main focus for coaches and athletes alike. Simply put, increased aerobic capacity can improve endurance performance and should lead training and testing. Prior research and the current findings also suggest as an athlete develops, economy may provide a more important contribution. 

In conclusion, the best predictors of a 10 km cycling time trial appear to be VO2 max and economy. However, this may vary depending on the level of athlete. The large range of events in cycling means the demands will change between disciplines.


Talk To Me in English

Basically, build yourself a bigger and better engine. Once you’ve built it, get really good at using it. You can find multiple ways to do this. You want to work a variety of intensities and time domains, making sure you progress.

For beginners, a great way to improve your ‘engine’ is to work at 90% of your VO2 Max. So if you know that you were running at a certain speed when you failed, take 90% of this and get cracking. Work slightly above and below and gradually increase the reps and or total time.


Want to Learn More About Vo2 Max and Energy Systems?

A good place to start may be ready our post on V02 Max and How You Stack Up. If you’re looking to delve deeper into the cave that is energy systems and how to train them, these are my suggestions!

Ultimate MMA Conditioning – You don’t need to be a fighter to benefit from Joel Jamieson. His ability to explain the energy systems in simple terms makes this a must read. He also puts in place strategies and outlines on his training methods.

Aerobic Capacity – Chris Hinshaw. “A former All American swimmer and an experienced professional triathlete with 10 Ironman finishes.  His top international finishes include a 2nd place overall finish at the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships, 2nd place overall finish at the Ironman World Championships in Canada, and a 1st place overall finish at Ironman Brazil.” Visit his website, it’s totally worth it!