General Discussion Triathlon Talk » LT, FTP, CP, MLSS, OBLA?!?!? Rss Feed  
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2010-10-14 11:46 AM

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Subject: LT, FTP, CP, MLSS, OBLA?!?!?
If you ever read about those terms and you are always confused or wondering how those apply to training I stole
I stole the post below from Dr. Phil Skiba at ST:

I think the problem here is that we have a whole lot of terminology that people in sport use somewhat recklessly and inaccurately. Let me try to help clear things up a little bit. (Besides all the athletes I coach / sports medicine I do, I work in one of the best laboratories in the world with respect to this stuff). In short, there are really two "thresholds", if you like.

At the low end, we have Lactate Threshold or LT. This is simply the point where lactate rises by 1 mmol / L over exercise baseline. In other words, if you are zipping along at 1.5 mmol / L, and you speed up enough that you reach 2.5 mmol / L, you have crossed LT. This is actually a lot easier to do than most athletes realize. You could ride around at / about LT for a couple hours without much of a problem.

In the middle, we find OBLA, or Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation, is when you hit 4 mmol / L, irrespective of where your baseline was. This term is not used frequently used anymore, and we should probably avoid it.

At the high end, there is the MLSS, or Maximal Lactate Steady State. This is simply the highest level of exercise we can maintain while maintaining a steady concentration of lactate in the blood. Any higher, and we see a progressive increase even if we maintain a constant power. MLSS is intimately related to the concept of Critical Power, and is probably one of the biochemical manifestations of reaching Critical Power (if you are on a bike) / Critical Speed (if you are running or swimming or whatever). The physiological "stuff" going on at this point is probably what results in the "feeling" of "threshold", and is what is partially responsible for what Andy Coggan calls "FTP". FTP is probably not reflective of some unique, alternative threshold phenomenon. It is just convenient shorthand, and results from your body "understanding" that if it goes much harder, bad stuff is going to happen (like inexorable fatigue). In other words, FTP that you observe in the field by doing something like a 40KTT is probably pretty close to, but just slightly lower than CP in a well trained athlete.

This begs the question, what is CP and how do you measure it? If you did a bunch of all-out exercise tests...i.e. went as hard as you could for 3 minutes, and then for 5 minutes, and then for 10 minutes, and you graphed them on a piece of paper, you'd get a curve. It would be high on the left, and then slope down to the right. The place where it seems to level off is CP. You can also make the same graph by using joules (this is easy... watts = joules per second), and you get a straight line, and the slope of that line (rise / run) is equal to CP. (PLEASE NOTE: This is Critical Power, the real scientific one, not the bastardization used by many people to refer to the hardest they can go for some period, like "CP30" for "the hardest I can go for 30 minutes).

Basically, it goes like this. As you cross LT, you begin recruiting less efficient muscle fibers, which tend to use more glycogen / carbohydrate and less fat for fuel. The result of this is an increase in lactate in the blood. This is not a problem. The lactate is taken up by other cells / organs and is metabolized. (Lactate is an energy-rich compound, not a waste product. It doesn't in and of itself cause fatigue). In triathlon, it is a problem only in the sense that your body glycogen / carbohydrate stores are limited, and that you can "bonk" if you aren't getting enough carbs in while you race (if the race is long enough). Additionally, we see the emergence of what is called the "slow component" of oxygen use. In other words, let's say your LT is 170W (not unreasonable for an age-grouper). Below 170W, you are using some constant amount of oxygen. If you made a graph, you'd see your oxygen use rise up as you started, and then become a straight line. Now, if you ride 180W, what you will see is that your oxygen use seems to kind of level off, and then (maybe a minute or two later) there is another "hump". In other words, it appears as though your body suddenly realizes it needs more oxygen to do the job. However, this second "hump" also levels off, so you again end up with a steady state of oxygen use. It is just that you are using more than you might otherwise have expected.

The key is that so long as you stay below Critical Power, your body is able to maintain a physiological steady state. After several minutes, oxygen use levels off, lactate concentration levels off. In the muscles, the concentration of creatine phosphate (PCr), ATP, inorganic phosphate and hydrogen ion (i.e. pH) stabilizes. Once you go hard enough to cross Critical Power, bad stuff happens. In other words, let's say your CP is 240W. If you go to 250W and hold it, things get interesting. Even though the work rate is not changing, there is still a progressive increase in the amount of oxygen used, a progressive increase in lactate concentration in the blood, and a progressive decrease in ATP, PCr and pH inside the muscle. It is very cool, because you cat actually watch a lot of this stuff happen with a specialized MRI setup. Eventually, you reach some limiting level of the concentrations of the other stuff, fatigue, and must stop, or at the very least drop to some much easier intensity.

I encourage people to stop thinking in terms of lactate. Everyone does it, because it is so easy to measure. However, it is really just a very indirect market of some much more important / interesting stuff that is going on in the body, most of which is not easy to measure without expensive gear. From the perspective of the average (or even professional) athlete, it is simply important to realize that you don't want to be crossing CP with any significant frequency or for any significant duration if you are expecting to do your best in a triathlon, particularly a long course triathlon.

Hope that was helpful.

Phil"


if you never heard from Dr. Phil Skiba here is more info:

Anyway, great stuff in that post and a great reminder for us coaches to be proactive at using adequate terms when describing any of those mentioned above. I know I've been guilty in using some of these interchangeably and the result is causing confusion among athletes, hence we should make a conscious effort to avoid doing this like the plague!


2010-10-14 11:59 AM
in reply to: #3152155

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Subject: RE: LT, FTP, CP, MLSS, OBLA?!?!?
now if we can all only agree on "tempo" the world would be at peace.

great stuff as always.
2010-10-14 12:08 PM
in reply to: #3152209

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Subject: RE: LT, FTP, CP, MLSS, OBLA?!?!?
newbz - 2010-10-14 11:59 AM now if we can all only agree on "tempo" the world would be at peace. great stuff as always.


I know you are been fictitious but considering the most updated view of VO2 kinetic training levels it all can be really simplified to 4 levels (stealing Skiba's post again):

Moderate = Below LT
Heavy = Between LT and CP
Severe = Between CP and VO2max
Extreme = Above VO2max.

This is something I an thinking modifying with my athletes and simplify all training levels
2010-10-14 12:48 PM
in reply to: #3152155

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Subject: RE: LT, FTP, CP, MLSS, OBLA?!?!?
As always, good info Jorge.

Keeping us all honest and informed. 
2010-10-14 2:57 PM
in reply to: #3152237

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Subject: RE: LT, FTP, CP, MLSS, OBLA?!?!?
JorgeM - 2010-10-14 10:08 AM
newbz - 2010-10-14 11:59 AM now if we can all only agree on "tempo" the world would be at peace. great stuff as always.


I know you are been fictitious but considering the most updated view of VO2 kinetic training levels it all can be really simplified to 4 levels (stealing Skiba's post again):

Moderate = Below LT
Heavy = Between LT and CP
Severe = Between CP and VO2max
Extreme = Above VO2max.

This is something I an thinking modifying with my athletes and simplify all training levels


Ahem. The word you want there, Jorge, is "facetious".

And I'm curious as to why you would endorse using a somewhat vague (As far as meaning goes, VO2 max is an interesting number to know) measurement method (VO2max) when some of the recent trends point to using vVO2max and tlimVO2max instead?

John
2010-10-14 4:10 PM
in reply to: #3152729

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Subject: RE: LT, FTP, CP, MLSS, OBLA?!?!?
tkd.teacher - 2010-10-14 2:57 PM

Ahem. The word you want there, Jorge, is "facetious".

And I'm curious as to why you would endorse using a somewhat vague (As far as meaning goes, VO2 max is an interesting number to know) measurement method (VO2max) when some of the recent trends point to using vVO2max and tlimVO2max instead?

John
damn spell check!

As far as VO2max, notice the above are just training levels using established physiological concepts, that is, it is a way to differentiate training intensities as an attempt to make training more efficient. Remember, training levels are man made and your body doesn't really have specific zones marking when you crossed the line from a steady state effort into your MLSS, it just feels harder and a series of physiological reactions takes place (i.e. lactate accumulation, oxygen uptake, increase in CHO oxidation, etc.)

While vVO2max or tlimVO2max are better markers for performance predictions or to set training programs, in this case we are not really testing any of the levels suggested but Critical Power (or Critical Velocity) and we use that to estimate the rest.

But if we were to test in a lab we could correctly determine for instance your power at LT, CP, and at VO2max (and vVO2max) and from there it would simple to design a training program. IOW, we not really concerned about the absolute max oxygen your body can take pr when your lactate accumulates 1mmol/liter above your baseline, but what sort of power/pace you can sustain at said intensities.

Furthermore, IIRC vVO2 max correlates to the maximal power we can sustain for around ~5min (or 5MP) hence using CP or critical velocity we can estimate vVO2max and the beauty is that you don't need to do invasive testing.

That's why for the purpose of endurance training I like using CP or CV as it allows to design training programs, predict/model performance, track improvements and estimate a variety of important markers for maximal gains.


2010-10-14 4:27 PM
in reply to: #3152870

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Subject: RE: LT, FTP, CP, MLSS, OBLA?!?!?
JorgeM - 2010-10-14 2:10 PM
tkd.teacher - 2010-10-14 2:57 PM

Ahem. The word you want there, Jorge, is "facetious".

And I'm curious as to why you would endorse using a somewhat vague (As far as meaning goes, VO2 max is an interesting number to know) measurement method (VO2max) when some of the recent trends point to using vVO2max and tlimVO2max instead?

John
damn spell check!

As far as VO2max, notice the above are just training levels using established physiological concepts, that is, it is a way to differentiate training intensities as an attempt to make training more efficient. Remember, training levels are man made and your body doesn't really have specific zones marking when you crossed the line from a steady state effort into your MLSS, it just feels harder and a series of physiological reactions takes place (i.e. lactate accumulation, oxygen uptake, increase in CHO oxidation, etc.)

While vVO2max or tlimVO2max are better markers for performance predictions or to set training programs, in this case we are not really testing any of the levels suggested but Critical Power (or Critical Velocity) and we use that to estimate the rest.

But if we were to test in a lab we could correctly determine for instance your power at LT, CP, and at VO2max (and vVO2max) and from there it would simple to design a training program. IOW, we not really concerned about the absolute max oxygen your body can take pr when your lactate accumulates 1mmol/liter above your baseline, but what sort of power/pace you can sustain at said intensities.

Furthermore, IIRC vVO2 max correlates to the maximal power we can sustain for around ~5min (or 5MP) hence using CP or critical velocity we can estimate vVO2max and the beauty is that you don't need to do invasive testing.

That's why for the purpose of endurance training I like using CP or CV as it allows to design training programs, predict/model performance, track improvements and estimate a variety of important markers for maximal gains.


Gotcha, and that makes sense. For some reason when I read the repost originally, I thought it was endorsing a VO2 based system, and I was curious why you thought it was good to read. :D

John
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