In this podcast, Colby Pearce and Sebastian Weber talk about the magic of cycling: having a strong aerobic metabolism that burns the lactate, produced by the (anaerobic) glycolytic metabolism.

Balancing VLamax and VO2max in crit racing
Are you able to recover from repeated accelerations?

Colby Pearce during the podcast:

“The glycolytic metabolism produces lactate – and a well trained aerobic metabolism consumes lactate, using it as a fuel.

In practice, when you have a points race, criterium or any road race with repeated attacks, riders generate lactate every time they jump out of a corner or attack. This is because during these events a large percentage of energy is produced by the glycolytic metabolism. Also known as glycolysis.

After every corner, acceleration or attack, there is a wave of lactate. This lactate is consumed aerobically during less intense moments.

Carbohydrate and fat energy metabolism
Lactate produced by the glycolytic energy system is used as a fuel in the aerobic energy system.

When you have a well trained aerobic base, there is almost a perfect balance between lactate production and the aerobic system “consuming” this lactate. As a result, you’re able to perform repeated accelerations like Tabata’s or jumps in criteriums.

But if you have a poorly trained aerobic base, you don’t have the tools to burn the lactate that is produced. This is obviously a problem, especially when you are blessed with a very high lactate production (VLamax).

Lactate accumulation and recovery - interval ratios
INSCYD shows how fast you accumulate lactate (purple) and how fast you recover lactate (grey) at any exercise intensity. Expressed in speed, pace or power.

For a pure (“one time”) sprinter this might not be a problem. They want a high lactate production rate and they don’t need to worry about what happens after their sprint. But for many other endurance events, you need to be able to recover from higher intensity efforts.” – Colby Pearce

“A high VLamax is more fun when you can combine it with a high VO2max, because lactate is the preferred fuel for the aerobic metabolism.”
Sebastian Weber
Sebastian Weber
Project leader INSCYD

Other topics covered during podcast:

  • Thoughts about riding in the saddle vs out of the saddle
  • Importance of cadence, recovery time and more in describing training
  • Why you should not overuse power data
  • Difference in VLamax between males and females
  • How to describe training zones anno 2022

Listen to the podcast

The Cycling in Alignment with Colby Pearce podcast episode 83 contains a lot more information – also about other topics. You can start listening to the podcast here. If you only want to hear more about balancing VO2max and VLamax: start at 50:00.


Colby Pearce INSCYD coach
About: Colby Pearce

USAC Level 1 Coach and Steve Hogg certified bike fitter. Has worked with elite athletes and WorldTour teams, like EF Education First. As a professional cyclist, he was a U.S. Olympic track cyclist and hour record holder. Currently, Colby is the host of the Cycling in Alignment podcast .