What is anaearobic threshold in relation to cyclists? Anaerobic threshold (AT) is the maximum level of riding intensity that you can sustain. If you ride too hard for too long, you’ll exceed your aerobic limits and cross your anaerobic threshold. At this point, your body makes a crucial switch in its mode of energy production. Normally, most of your energy is produced with oxygen (aerobically), but once you cross your AT, your body begins exercising without oxygen (anaerobically). Doing so is taxing, and soon you must reduce effort. AT is sometimes confused with VO2 max, but they’re quite different. VO2max represents your aerobic power potential. It’s the maximum amount of oxygen your system is capable of extracting from the air during exercise. But because of a low AT, most people never approach this potential. For instance, the average untrained person reaches his AT atonly 55% of VO2 max. Almost half his aerobic energy remains untapped.
The only reliable way to measure AT is with lab testing. But you don’t need a lab to tell you when you’re nearing your threshold. You feel breathless and your muscles burn. Fortunately, it is possible to raise your AT. It takes a consistent program of long, hard rides and interval training. But it is worth it. Once your threshold starts rising, you can maintain a high intensity for longer than you ever imagined.