Words by Benoit Capostagno
When riding at intensities below your threshold, energy is predominantly supplied through the process of oxidative metabolism, which takes place in the mitochondria, the little power plants within our muscle cells. Oxidative metabolism requires the use oxygen to produce energy from carbohydrates and fat. During longer endurance events, such as marathon mountain biking races, this is the primary process involved in energy production. Oxidative metabolism has a large capacity to produce energy, but it is not immediately activated and once activated, produces energy at a slower rate compared to other energy systems.
Understanding which energy systems are involved in during a particular activity allows coaches to tailor training programmes that will ensure that the relevant energy systems are appropriately stressed. Creating sessions specific to a particular energy system will improve the functioning of that system and allow for greater energy production. Now that we know what the energy systems involved in energy production are, how do we measure/monitor them?