Making Sense of the Science

So if you're like me you may have spent most of your time in your HS or college biology or physiology class drawing anatomically incorrect pictures of the teachers. And that's OK. Hopefully you've grown up a bit!

But now those dorky kids that sat next to you and moaned about needing an A on the test are certified exercise physiologists and physical therapists who speak and understand a language that you, as an athlete, discovered you want to understand. In this article I'll help simplify the scientific aspect of multisport training.

The first concept you need to accept is that all the charts, measures, values, and terms are only useful as tools and general guides for applying training techniques. You may 'know' your numbers, but the time will come when those numbers are meaningless and you need to throw them out the window and just race. That being said, let's break it down.

The three major terms you want to get comfortable with are aerobic training, anaerobic training, and lactate threshold.

"Aerobic" means a few things, depending on how you say it:

"Anaerobic" means:

Now, we need to define lactate threshold (LT):

Finally, we also need to break down what lactate/lactic acid is:

So, now we also need to clarify a few more terms:

Perceived exertion:

V02 Max:



Max HR:

Peak training:

Slow twitch muscle:

Fast twitch muscle:


So now that you know what all this means - so what? Well, check out the pyramid:

Marty's Pyramid to the Stars

Basic Endurance Athlete Training Structure

Now, all you need to do is take the scientific mumbo jumbo and pop it into this pyramid in a periodized macrocycle to achieve maximum athletic performance.

"Oh, crap," I hear you say, "what the eff is a periodized macrocycle?"

Thatís when you break a year (or so) of training into smaller periods (mesocycles) and work on different systems throughout the cycle. Typical periods are called base, build, peak, taper, & recovery. Iíll write something up on those next time, but in the interim you can find a plethora of information on the Internet and in numerous books dedicated to the subject. You can also hire me or someone like me to do the planning for you ;-)

Marty Gaal


Exercise Physiology - Lactate Threshold Summary
My training articles
The Triathlete's Training Bible by Joe Friel
The USAT Coaching Certification Handbook
A billion other articles on the internet, in magazines, etc.