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Lance Armstrong through a physiological lens: hard training boosts muscle power 8%

Catch an athlete with clear potential early in his career, study his physiology over an incredibly eventful seven years including victory in the Tour de France, and you might uncover some incredibly important, indeed amazing facts about what training and dedication can accomplish.

What Edward F. Coyle of the University of Texas-Austin found out about Lance Armstrong was that from 1992-1999, the year of his first of now six consecutive Tour de France wins, "the characteristic that improved most (was) an 8% improvement in muscular efficiency and thus power production when cycling at a given maximal oxygen uptake." Combining the increased muscular efficiency with a planned 7% reduction in body weight and fat leading up to each Tour de France race, "contributed equally to a remarkable 18% improvement in his steady-state power per kilogram" output, the Coyle paper reported.

The study, "Improved muscular efficiency displayed as 'Tour de France' champion matures," appears in the June issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society. The research was conducted by Edward F. Coyle, Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin.

*[Another study also appearing in the June issue of JAP reports on a different cycling approach: "Six sessions of sprint interval training increases muscle oxidative potential and cycle endurance capacity in humans," by Kirsten A. Burgomaster and Martin J. Gibala, et al., of McMaster University, Canada. See brief report after the Coyle-Armstrong study.]

"Amazing, quantified changes that get more guys off his wheel"

An independent physiologist familiar with the study commented: "This study shows that long term training has a lot bigger effects than we thought. They followed Armstrong ?a well-known hard trainer ?and the changes in his efficiency over seven years are really quite amazing. We wouldn't be surprised
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Source:American Physiological Society


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