Cycling: Improve your heart's pumping power

 Cycling: Improve your heart's pumping power


The heart sends oxygenated blood to the muscles in the legs more efficiently. Is it important to improve the strength of your heart pump? What is the strength of the heart? What is the difference with pedal power? What types of training are according to your goals? Here are some of the answers...



Heart: heart rate and separated blood volume/pulse

The heart sends more or less blood to the muscles. The volume of blood that the heart "pumps" over the course of one minute depends on two distinct components:


The volume of blood emitted during each heartbeat and the number of heartbeats greater than one minute.


Scientifically, these two components are called systolic stroke volume (SV) and heart rate (HR).



Cardiac output = SV x HR

During intense physical exertion, cardiac output should be maximum. Therefore, the heart rate will increase until it reaches its maximum. The maximum heart rate is specific to each person, but it is acceptable to:


Maximum heart rate = 220 - age

Please note that this formula is very theoretical! There are indeed large disparities between individuals.


Stroke volume (SV), meaning that the volume of blood expelled during each heartbeat must also increase with exertion. Ranges from 60ml at rest to 150ml during exercise on average. For non-athletic individuals, the maximum ejection volume per beat is approximately 90 mL. In the case of a highly athletic individual, it can reach 180 ml or more.


Thus, regular training makes it possible to play on these two criteria. It will allow you to improve your maximum heart rate and systolic ejection volume (SV).


Heart rate and pedal force

What is the difference between heart rate and pedal rate?

These two concepts should not be confused. Cardiac force is the amount of blood the heart pumps per unit time. Pedal force is the amount of force exerted on the pedal per unit time.


These two components are not necessarily related.


Heart Strength - Power Pedal

In fact, the heart sends oxygen-laden blood to the muscles, but the improvement of blood circulation through the arterial network takes place more or less efficiently (blood pressure, muscle perfusion, etc.).


In addition, muscle performance depends not only on the amount of oxygen received but also on their ability to manage their oxygen supply (aerobic pathway management). It also depends on its ability to provide energy through other metabolic pathways (lactic anaerobic and anaerobic anaerobic).


Time is of the essence: How long will you be able to maintain high pedaling power?

To develop very high pedaling power over a short period of time (sprinting, fast climbing up a short hill), your body will use what is called the anaerobic pathway (the body's ability to produce energy without using oxygen). But you will not be able to abuse this mode of operation for longer periods of effort.


The ratio of type I and II fibers as well as the number of fibers within the muscle also improve muscle performance and therefore pedaling power.


In short, heart rate alone does not determine pedaling power because other factors play a role, moreover, pedaling power is not enough to determine your athletic abilities.


Some cyclists (on the track, for example) are able to develop very high pedaling power but may not be able to maintain a less sustained effort for several hours.


Other profiles (runners) should be able to develop very high pedaling power after prolonged effort, despite accumulated fatigue. It must be "fresh" when you start ending the sprint.


Depending on your profile, your goals, coaching should be thought differently.


Adapt your training to your goals

Schematically, here are some coaching styles that adapt to their goals:


The goal is to improve the heart rate

Training: short flat split, short hill split

Example: On an exercise bike, pedal medium resistance/very high intensity for 30 seconds and then active recovery for 30 seconds. 15 repetitions. Rest 3 minutes and start a second series of 15 reps.


Objective = improve stress resistance

Training: long split


Example: Outdoors, on a long hill with a relatively steady slope (10% for example), climb quickly for 3 minutes, then climb very gently in recovery for 30 minutes. Continue like this for 30 minutes.


Objective = improve stamina

Training: a long journey


Example: Get out at a constant 4 hours, at a relatively constant speed.

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