The MTB Rider and Fatigue – Pt 2 Managing Fatigue

In our previous article we talked about what your riding fatigue actually was and a little about how it occurs within your body. Now we look at what we can do to lessen the fatigue.

Increasing Your Lactate Threshold and Fatigue Resistance

Your lactate threshold is a term used to describe the maximum steady effort your muscles can maintain without a continual increase in lactic acid. As a beginner rider, a person is unlikely to have a high lactate threshold and will experience lactic burn quickly and often during their rides. As you ride more frequently, further or longer periods of time and begin to ride against the pain, your muscles become stronger and more efficient overall. You can accelerate this improvement of your lactate threshold with specific lactic exercises such as holding in the squat position for more and more extended periods of time as days and weeks pass.

By extending your rides and targeting particular exercises during and outside of riding, you extend your muscular endurance. Muscular endurance is a result of your body producing more energy producing cells called mitochondria and an increase in size and number of aerobic muscle fibres resulting in your muscle’s resistance to fatigue increasing.

That all sounds as if you just ride you bike more, all that will happen by itself but there’s more to it than that. Key to it all is you digging deep and pushing your muscles a bit harder and further on a regular basis. In simple terms, your muscles respond by wanting to be stronger in case that happens again, and they strive to produce more of those fibres and cells they need to get it done.

Food Intake and Cardio

To be able to accomplish all that however, your body needs the required fuel and oxygen. As you try to push yourself harder to get those muscles stronger for better lactate thresholds and fatigue resistance, you’ll find your heart and lungs requiring some attention also. Your muscles will need good supplies of glycogen.

Eating good amounts of carbohydrates prior to riding helps prepare your muscles fuel stores for the onslaught you are going to hand them. Eating some carbohydrates during your ride helps to ensure your muscles don’t run out of glycogen. Look for low GI foods which keep the energy trickling in as opposed to high GI where you get a rush of energy and then nothing.

Your cardiovascular system will benefit from your increase in riding without any extra effort. However, by targeting regular exercises, either on or off the bike, that require you to push your heart rate and breathing a little more than usual will also help to increase your cardiovascular efficiency.

All said and done, no matter how fit and strong you are, you can still suffer lactic acid burn and muscle fatigue. You’ll probably just be going faster or be way further down the trail when it happens than if you were less fit. However, if you are strong and fit and conditioned against fatigue, you’ll enjoy a lot more rides with a lot less fatigue than when you weren’t.