Train like Lance

Randy Wyrick
Kira Horvath/ khorvath@vaildaily.comTrainer Andy Lapkass monitors Morgan Wyrick's heart rate as she rides a stationary bike during the Carmichael Training Program at the Vail Athletic Club on Wednesday.

VAIL ” Couch potatoes are people, too.

That’s why Andy Lapkass of Summit Cycling Performance Center, that area’s only Carmichael Training Systems senior coach, will even take on people like you and me.

The Carmichael training program became popular when Lance Armstrong used it in his training as he rode to wins in seven consecutive Tours de France.

If it works for Lance, and it does, it’ll work for you.

Lapkass uses a combination of lactate threshold testing, pedal stroke analysis and bicycle fitting to help cyclists train for maximum performance. It also works for runners, Nordic skiers, swimmers and about anyone else who wants to be more fit.

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By determining an athlete’s lactate threshold and correlating it to heart rate, exertion and power, it’s possible to individualize a training regimen. With periodic re-testing, an athlete can follow performance and fitness gains and ensure that training is on track.

It also works for people whose idea of a workout is stumbling from the couch to the chair.

“A person’s lactate threshold is highly trainable and correlates exceptionally well with endurance performance,” Lapkass said. “Lactate threshold testing is a terrific way to establish a baseline for fitness, set heart rate and power ranges for training specific energy systems, pacing race efforts, and following the effectiveness of training. All athletes put a lot of ‘sweat equity’ into their training, so it stands to reason that it should be both individualized and optimal.”

The training works for about anyone trying to perform better and longer in cycling, as well as many other sports such as running, Nordic skiing and swimming. Lapkass also helps cyclists fit their bikes to their specific build.

“A bike should be comfortable and allow the rider to be efficient aerobically and in pedal stroke,” Lapkass said. “A properly adjusted bike is also more responsive, making it safer to ride. Cycling should be pain free and enjoyable to people of all ages and abilities.”

The computerized “Spin Scan” program enables Lapkass measure force production through the full 360 degrees of a cyclist’s pedal stroke to identify “dead” spots, areas of weakness and asymmetries.

Carmichael Training Systems was developed in 1999 by coach and cyclist Chris Carmichael. What Carmichael learned, and what he applied to athletes like Armstrong and taught coaches like Lapkass, is that when carbohydrates are used by the body as fuel, even at rest, a certain amount of lactic acid is produced. As exercise intensity increases the body begins to rely more and more on carbohydrates to supply energy and lactic acid production increases.

When you start exercising, the body removes lactic acid at about the same pace it’s produced. As exercise intensity continues to increase, production of lactic acid eventually exceeds removal and lactic acid begins to accumulate in the blood. That’s your lactate threshold.

Once you know your lactate threshold and what it takes to reach it, your training can be designed to raise your threshold and increase the time you can perform there.

Lapkass says you should get retested every six to eight weeks to make sure your training is doing what it’s supposed to do, and you’re doing the training you’re supposed to be doing.

“Training and competing using information gained through lactate threshold testing is superior to that of using percentages of maximal heart rate or VO2 max,” Lapkass said. “It’s a direct measure of maximal sustainable effort, and therefore endurance performance. The other measures are mere estimates of this exercise intensity”

Business Editor Randy Wyrick can be reached at 748-2977 or

Vail, Colorado

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