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

if some major physiological changes happened, but here's a real quantified example."

He added: "Generally there are two ways to improve efficiency: Train your maximum capacity to be very high, or train your sub-maximal capacity to be very efficient. In Armstrong's case, he did both. In the lab they measured his performance against standard oxygen consumption and by the end of the study he was much more efficient utilizing the same amount of oxygen. But on the road," he pointed out, "it means he can go faster and get more guys off his wheel."

Effect of cancer, therapy nil

The period that started when Armstrong was 21 and just turning professional and ending at age 28 with his first TdF victory, also included his cancer diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and recovery. About eight months after chemotherapy ceased (August 1997), Armstrong was tested in Coyle's laboratory in the same manner as in his other four visits. The results showed that he "displayed no ill-effects from his previous surgeries and chemotherapy" and were in line with measurements expected from highly trained athletes during periods of detraining, Coyle added later.

The study notes that these findings could be "important because it provides insight, although limited, regarding the recovery of 'performance physiology' after successful treatment for advanced cancer."

Muscular efficiency through possible fiber change: making it look easy

Coyle concedes in the study that the "physiological mechanisms responsible for the 8% improvements in (muscle) efficiency when cycling, as well as the stimuli that provided this adaptation, are unclear. The observation that both gross and delta efficiency improved to the same extent and also with the same time course suggests an improved efficiency of ATP turnover within muscle fibers during contraction." (ATP, or adenosine triphosphate, is a nucleotide present that serves as an energy source for many metabolic processes.)'"/>

Source:American Physiological Society


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