Aerobic Threshold is a term used to indicate and intensity whereby our bodies begin to utilize anaerobic pathways. The aerobic threshold is often predictive and can be inaccurate for some people. Aerobic Threshold often occurs somewhere around 65-70% on the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale. The most important thing to establish, as it pertains to endurance sports, is the intensity at which the body starts to lean more heavily on carbohydrate as its fuel source than it does fat. The most accurate way to establish this is by way of a Ventilatory Threshold test where they collect inspired and expired air from the participant.
The Anaerobic Threshold is the intensity at which the body begins to lean almost exclusively on anaerobic pathways to do the work. Anaerobic simply means “without oxygen”. Typically, this threshold occurs around 85% on the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale.
At, @, or on
Sometimes you will see the words or symbols “at”, “@” or “on” in a workout. An example would be: “200m swim on 1min rest”- this simply means that you swim 200m and then rest for one minute after upon completion. If you see the words “at” or the symbol “@” for example: “10*100m @ 2min”- this simply means that you swim ten repetitions of 100m and start each new one every 2min. So, if you do the 100m intervals in 1 minute and 20 seconds you get 40 seconds rest.
A’s, B’s, C’s
A’s, B’s and C’s are a staple set of running drills that involve various movements designed to help develop great running form and activate the body before doing a running workout. You may find these drills throughout various programs.
Big gear is a term used to describe a specific type of training on the bike. Big gear workouts involve pedaling at a lower cadence so the resistance is higher. Big gear workouts can help develop strength and muscular coordination on the bike.
Sometimes you will see a breathing pattern in a swim set. For example: “400 pull breathing 3,5 by 50”- this means that you breathe every 3 strokes for 50m and then breathe every 5 strokes for 50m and then return to breathing every 3 strokes for 50m and so on until the 400m interval is finished.
Building your speed over the distance e.g. 4x50m build means you build your speed within each 50m so you would start off easy and gradually build your speed to fast over the 50m
Decreasing your speed over the distance e.g. 4x50m build down means you decrease your speed within each 50m so you would start off fast and gradually decrease your speed to easy over the 50m
The cool down is similar to the warm up in that the intensity should be very low. The goal is to give your body a chance to start the recovery process and come down off of the harder efforts.
If you see the word “choice” in a swim set it simply means it is your choice which stroke you do. You can also include kicking or pulling. Choice sets are usually in the warm up and cool down and have no specific purpose other than to allow the body to warm up or cool down. This space is also an opportunity for you to include any drills that you might be incorporating into your regular routine.
If the workout you are doing calls for “descending” sets this simply means that each repetition should get faster thereby “descending” the amount of time it takes to complete the interval.
Endurance designates a specific level of effort-usually for a prolonged period of time. Endurance workouts will usually be accompanied by effort parameters of roughly 65-75% on the rate of perceived exertion scale or will have a corresponding heart rate that lines up with your first ventilator threshold. Endurance training is essential if you want to become better at endurance sports.
Functional Threshold Power (FTP)
Functional threshold power is the predictive amount of wattage that you can produce for one hour. FTP is a useful number to get familiar with if you have a power measurement device on your bike.
Lactate threshold is the point whereby the body is producing more lactic acid than it can clear. This typically happens somewhere around 85% on the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale. Lactate threshold is one of the more common measures that can help establish your anaerobic threshold.
The main set of a workout is where the magic happens! The main set designates the interval or set of the workout that specifically targets an energy system or some skill development. There should be a distinguishable difference between your warm up/cool down intensity and your main set intensity both physically and mentally.
Maffetone refers to Dr. Phil Maffetone who has been a leader and pioneer in the endurance community for several decades. Dr. Maffetone uses a very simple formula to predict the aerobic threshold or first ventilatory threshold. Simply using the formula (180- age) can establish a predictive heart rate value for this threshold. Predictive values are not always accurate for every person and as such we suggest it only as one of several options and as a cost-effective way to make that prediction.
Pull is a term designated for swim workouts whereby you place a pull buoy between your legs while swimming. The objective is to remove the kick from your swimming so you can focus on your arms. Pull buoys also provide flotation effectively bringing your legs closer to the surface of the water, which can be useful for less experienced swimmers to experience.
Pull with and without paddles
A commonly used swim tool is a paddle- paddles are placed on the hands and add a level of resistance to the swim stroke. Pulling is often done with paddles to help build strength. Pulling should only be done if your swim stroke is technically proficient so as to avoid injury.
Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)
Rate of perceived exertion is one of the easiest ways to measure effort. It does not require any equipment or measuring devices- just simply check in with how the effort feels on a scale of 1-10 or as a percentage. Please also refer to our rate of perceived exertion scale available in the appendix section of the B78 Endurance Hub Programs.
Revolutions Per Minute (RPM)
RPM is a measure of how many times each leg goes around the pedaling circle every minute on a bike. Revolutions per minute are often shortened to RPM. The word “cadence” is often used to describe the same thing. Most cycling computers will have the ability to measure your RPM or cadence or you can count your revolutions over a shorter timeframe and multiply to find out what it would be per minute. For example, you can count how many times one leg goes around the pedal revolution in 10 or 15 seconds and multiply that number by 6 or 4 respectively to find out how many revolutions per minute that is. RPM is a very useful tool when working on your cycling efficiency, technique and competence.
Transition will refer to transitioning between swimming, biking and/or running. Transition simply indicates the act of moving from one sport to the next.
Sometimes you will see the word “turnover” written in the technical instructions for running. Turnover refers to how fast your legs are moving or how many times each foot is striking the ground over a given period of time. Turnover is similar to cadence or revolutions per minute (RPM) in cycling.
Ventilatory Threshold 1 (VT1)
The ventilatory thresholds are measures of effort. They are most accurately established in a laboratory where the examiner collects samples of your inspired and expired breath but they can also be predicted. The first ventilatory threshold corresponds closely to what some call the “Aerobic Threshold” whereby efforts over that threshold start to utilize anaerobic pathways. However, the most useful information that is established with a ventilatory threshold test, as it pertains to endurance sport, is the threshold whereby the body begins to utilize a higher percentage of carbohydrate than it does fat as it’s fuel source. Typically this happens somewhere around 65-70% on the Rate of Perceived Effort scale.
Ventilatory Threshold 2 (VT2)
The ventilatory thresholds are measures of effort. They are most accurately established in a laboratory where the examiner collects samples of your inspired and expired breath, but they can also be predicted. The second ventilator threshold corresponds closely to the Lactate or Anaerobic Threshold whereby efforts over that threshold utilize almost exclusively anaerobic pathways and where the rate of lactate acid production exceeds the body’s ability to clear it. Typically, this happens somewhere around 85% on the Rate of Perceived Effort scale.
Warm designates the time or distance that you need to spend warming up before you do the main set of the workout. Warmups should start slow and easy with the primary goal being to warm your body up and get ready for the harder pieces of the workout.
Rate of Perceived Exertion
Rate of perceived exertion is one of the easiest ways to measure effort. It does not require any equipment or measuring devices- just simply check in with how the effort feels on a scale of 1-10 or as a percentage. Although rate of perceived exertion is not an exact science it is important to be aware of how hard you are pushing at any given time. Even if you have all of the latest measurement devices you should still check in frequently with how you are actually feeling.
|Effort Level||% effort||Perceived effort|
|0||< 9%||Rest / sleeping|
|1||10 – 19%||Sitting / reading|
|2||20 – 29%||Standing up / walking around the house|
|3||30 – 39%||House chores|
|4||40 – 49%||Walking outside|
|5||50 – 59%||Easy/Warm up pace|
|6||60 – 69%||At or slightly below VT1 – Aerobic Threshold|
|7||70 – 74%||At or slightly above VT1 – Aerobic Threshold|
|–||76 – 79%||Strong pace – Difficulty talking|
|8||80 – 84%||Functional Threshold Power (FTP)|
|–||85 – 89%||VT2 – Anerobic Threshold|
|9||90 – 99%||Hard pace – 5min max effort|
|10||> 100%||Maximal Effort – Sprinting (30sec max effort)|