Training Terms

June 13, 2020

Cycling has it’s own culture, attitudes, and terms. We’ve assembled a list of common terms and definitions to provide some clarity and help you navigate the training world out there. For more depth and color, listen to the Words to Train by podcast episode that defines and discusses each of these.

“Training with” Power

The combination of force and velocity. “The gold standard” measurement of work on the bike.  Power allows for the quantification of force applied to the pedals to drive the bike forward.  

Smart Trainer

An indoor cycling trainer with ability to control the resistance you pedal against and synch up with third party video and virtual reality training, rides and races.


“The gold standard” measurement of work on the bike.  Force applied to the pedals to drive the bike forward is measured in watts.

ERG (Mode)

A mode for your smart trainer that sets the resistance automatically for you. This means all you have to do is ride against the resistance.  It’s similar to lifting weights in that you set the weight and then move against the resistance.

FTP (Functional Threshold Power)

Your maximum sustainable 60 minute power.  You can dramatically improve your FTP with regular training. Your FTP has a huge impact on your performance.

V02 Max

The maximum amount of oxygen that can be consumed during all-out exertion. This is a key indicator of a person’s potential in cycling and other aerobic sports. It’s largely genetically determined but can be improved somewhat by training.


Exercise at an intensity that allows the body’s need for oxygen to be continually met. This intensity can be sustained for long periods. The aerobic energy system fuels low to moderate and with training moderately high levels of intensity effort on the bike.  Very long durations of training can be undertaken using the aerobic energy system.


Exercise above the intensity at which the body’s need for oxygen can be met. This intensity can be sustained only briefly. The anaerobic energy system fuels high levels of intensity effort on the bike.  Durations of 5 to 15 minutes can be fueled with training by the anaerobic energy system.

Lactate Threshold

The exertion level beyond which the body can no longer produce energy aerobically, resulting in the buildup of lactic acid. This is marked by muscle fatigue, pain and shallow, rapid breathing. A build of of lactic acid marked by so much pain, fatigue and rapid shallow breathing that you must rest to process the buildup before continuing.


Training Stress Score is a measurement of the total dose of training.  TSS takes into account power output, intensity, and time.  Tracking TSS gives insight into how much training and recovery you can manage before overtraining. TSS is tracked after each workout, weekly and even monthly.  Your ability to tolerate higher TSS over time will occur with regular training/rest.

Normalized Power (NP)

Normalized Power is an “adjusted” measurement of average power taking into consideration the variability of effort.  For example: In a criterium race, the average power would show low due to the large amount of soft pedaling within the race.  NP uses an algorithm taking into account your output and response to make an accurate prediction of what you could’ve done.

Intensity Factor (IF)

Intensity Factor is a ratio of NP to FTP.  This is a great way to communicate your level of intensity to another rider, coach or trainee.  IF is graded from .75 – 105.  Less than 75 is considered recovery, 75-85 is easy to moderate, 85-95 is difficult and 95-105 is maximal with a score above 105 indicating that FTP has increased.

Ramp Test

Test protocol to determine your maximum aerobic capacity aka V02Max.  Additionally, a ramp test can be used to test and determine FTP. This test should be performed periodically throughout the training season to measure progress.


Sustained Power and Muscular effort intervals.  Proximate to FTP level efforts at a fraction of the duration to avoid fatigue in order to get in more intervals.

HIIT ( High Intensity Interval Training)

Training primarily using the high intensity aerobic, anaerobic, neuromuscular levels of intensity.  A super efficient training method for time-crunched cyclists

LSD Long Slow Distance

Traditional, periodized training where LSD is used at the start of the training season to build the foundation for higher levels of intensity training and racing later in the season.  LSD requires a lot of training time and is the best way to build the longest lasting performance peak possible.

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