Total Tri Training test Xendurance

During February 2021, twenty four age group triathletes of varying experience and ability volunteered to participate in a 4 week pragmatic trial of the effects of an acute training block combined with dietary supplementation with Xendurance's Lactic Acid Buffer.

Athlete Characteristics

  • 24 triathletes recruited from coaches Phil Ellison and Nick Rose at Total Tri Training. (TTT)
  • Age: Range 26-60 years (mean 44 years)
  • Gender: Male 19 / Female 5
  • FTP Range: 150 watts - 355 watts
  • Power to weight ratio (FTP/weight in kilos): 1.6 w/kg – 4.9w/kg (mean 3.5 w/kg)
  • Zwift rider race category: A+ - D.

Baseline Testing

The participants took part in events organised by TTT that included a timed hill climb (using BOX HILL ZWIFT strava segment) followed, a day later, by a flat 17.6km ZWIFT TIME TRIAL (Newbury Velo TT on the Tempus Fugit course).

Warm-up guidance was given and in the majority of cases the athletes undertook 20-30mins of light cycling with some moderate to high intensity short duration ‘primers’.

Re-testing

The same race events were organised by TTT exactly 5 weeks later to allow for direct comparison. Data was collected in terms of time to complete the courses and power (watts) produced for the duration. Rider profile and equipment choices remained the same on the virtual training platform. Warm-up was as described above.

Training

Athletes agreed to take part in two VO2 max cycling workouts per week (Monday and Thursday) for three weeks, interspersed with other low intensity training (typically below the 1st lactate threshold – LT1). This allowed the accrual of 15-20mins VO2 max work per session or 30-40mins per week.

The 2 key sessions were coached ‘live’ utilising both the group workout feature on Zwift and the Discord app for 2-way communication. The 4th (adaptation) week was of lower intensity until repetition of the tests.

Total training time per week ranged from (approximately) 8-14 hours amongst these athletes and was typical of their previous training volume. Due to lockdown restrictions (the inability to swim) their supporting sessions comprised low intensity cycling, running and strength and conditioning work.

During this block of training athletes supplemented their diets with Xendurance lactic acid buffer (2x3 tablets daily, rising to 2x4 tablets in the days immediately before re-test).

Results

The choice of test events was designed to evaluate both short and medium duration power output with the added incentive of group competition:

Box Hill is a climb of approximately 3km (2 miles) and time to complete the segment is largely determined by power to weight ratio. In our group of athletes, the time ranged from a little over 6 minutes to just under 12.

The Tempus Fugit time trial course is flat but longer at 17.6km (just over 11 miles). On this course outright power is more closely predictive of finish time; the range here was from 23mins to 35mins.

 

The results of the hill climb are presented in the table below:

Baseline (power)

 

Re-test (power)

 

Improvement

% Improvement

Mean & Range (watts)

309 (192-421)

Mean & Range (watts)

325 (181-439)

16w

(-11 - +33)

5.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baseline (time)

 

Re-test (time)

 

Improvement

% Improvement

Mean & Range (mm:ss)

8:18 (6:09 – 11:52)

Mean & Range (watts)

7:57 (6:02-12:34)

21s (+42 - -51s)

4.2%

  

The results of the time trial are presented in the table below:

Baseline (power)

 

Re-test (power)

 

Improvement

% Improvement

Mean & Range (watts)

265 (139-349)

Mean & Range (watts)

274 (153-366)

+ 9w

(0 - +17)

3.4%

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baseline (time)

 

Re-test (time)

 

Improvement

% Improvement

Mean & Range (mm:ss)

26:43 (23.32 – 34:51)

Mean & Range (mm:ss)

26:12 (23:09 – 32:42)

 31s (+7 - -129s)

2%

 

Anecdotally

  • Many athletes achieved higher maximum heart rate values during the re-test procedures.
  • Most athletes felt “more comfortable” tolerating high heart rates by the end of the training block.
  • Some also mentioned reduced leg muscle pain/discomfort both during and/or after the VO2max sessions and test procedures.
  • A small number mentioned headaches and disturbed sleep although the cause of these is unknown and possibly not related to the training or supplements.

Discussion

Improvements in power output are greater than improvements in speed/time due to the ‘in-game’ algorithms used. This is of similar magnitude to ‘real world’ cycling in which wind resistance increases with the square of velocity. This means a 5% increase in speed takes a lot more than a 5% increase in power. Also, percentage improvement in both power and time were greater for the shorter test (Box Hill) which likely represents the principle of training specificity. VO2 max training is most closely related to maximal efforts of 5-8mins duration and therefore the 3 week training block will have been most similar to the Box Hill climb which had an average completion time of around 8mins.

The results are highly generalisable to the triathlon community and also to a wider field of amateur endurance athletes. This cohort of athletes included an age range of 26-60years, men and women (ratio of 4:1), all abilities; in terms of cycling fitness (Zwift A-D categories) and years in triathlon. The group isn’t big enough to allow for more in-depth analysis but it appears that there are no boundaries to improved performance. Amateur triathletes should expect a 5% improvement in power within 4 weeks, if they follow a similarly structured training and supplementation plan.

Comments and feedback from athletes suggests that, whilst they are unable to ascertain whether their improved performances are related to the training, the supplements or both, they are very happy with their improved tolerance for hard training and racing on the bike and have since found tempo or threshold sessions easier to complete. The psychological aspects of training and preparing well cannot be underestimated in their improved performances.

As work at Vo2max intensity is not primarily limited by lactate or hydrogen ion (lactic acid) accumulation per se, it would be interesting to know if the Xendurance lactic acid buffer could be more beneficial during training and racing at intensities around threshold/FTP (in which the production, accumulation and clearance of lactate and hydrogen ions are more significant limiters to performance).

Conclusions

This small pragmatic trial illustrates the magnitude of possible improvements from a short 4 week block of highly structured, high intensity training combined with dietary supplementation with lactate buffer tablets, amongst a cohort of typical endurance athletes (amateur age group endurance triathletes). 

Contact details

Phil Ellison: https://www.totaltritraining.com/phil-ellison/

Email: phil.ellison@totaltritraining.com

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