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March 2022

Spring into Shape! 

And just like that … it’s March! Spring and summer events and races are around the corner! 

Are you ready? 

Don’t panic! We’ve got training advice and guidance from the experts to help you get to your start line, real or virtual, ready to #achieveyourone20percent!

This month Olympic Cyclist Joanie Caron, head coach and founder of Altius Velo Coaching, talks to us about the role of VO2max in cycling performance and how to improve it, plus we bring you Part 2 of our series on functional strength and stability with a new body-weight exercise from functional strength and conditioning trainer and one20percent ambassador Gemma Slaughter.

And don’t neglect your recovery! Our co-founders share some of their favorite recovery hacks and how they use our newest product, R120 Natural Recovery Cream with organic Copaiba Oil, organic Arnica Montana Flower Extract and natural Menthol to help reduce inflammation and recover faster. 

Let’s put it in the big ring and get after it!

Improve your VO2 Max!

 Olympian Joanie Caron


Improve your VO2max and achieve your one20percent!

If that sounds like a lot of math, fear not!  Joanie Caron, Olympic Cyclist and M.Sc. in Kinesiology with a focus on VO2 and HR Kinetics helps us sort through it all.  We asked Joanie to help us understand the role of VO2max in cycling performance and how to improve it.  Here’s our great Q & A with Joanie: 

What role does VO2max play in cycling performance? 

Road cycling is an activity that includes all sorts of efforts; steady flats, short punchy climbs, accelerations out of the saddle. Thousands of muscle contractions are produced by the working muscles on a long ride.  The ability to sustain and repeat those efforts over time depends largely on an individual’s cardiovascular fitness, or more specifically: VO2max. In fact, forget about FTP for a moment; VO2max is THE key factor of endurance performance.

What Factors contribute to VO2max?

VO2max depends on several factors; a strong heart to pump a large quantity of oxygenated blood, efficient blood vessels to deliver and extract the oxygen and finally, powerful muscles to finish the work.

How is VO2max assessed?

A typical way to assess it is through a step-test in a lab setting, where an athlete is pushed to the limit to a point where the oxygen consumed reaches its maximum. That amount of oxygen consumed at peak is expressed either in absolute value (L/min) or relative (mL/min/kg) which in that case, takes bodyweight into consideration.

For cyclists, what kind of effort is achievable at VO2max?

The power reached at VO2max can only be sustained for a few minutes (4-7minutes). For that reason, any effort above that duration is produced at a fraction (%) of a rider’s VO2max.

What does that mean?

For example, a rider who pushes 250W at VO2max can expect to generate 190-215W over a 20-min climb. By improving his power at VO2max up to 265W, they could sustain roughly 225W, which may translate into 2-3km/h and a precious time savings. This shows why improving power at VO2max is so critical for endurance performance.

Can VO2 max be improved?

While genetics play an important role to VO2max, most riders are able to improve by 5-10% with proper training. 

What can we do to train to improve VO2 max?

A great place to start is by incorporating short intervals (30 sec or less) repeated many times with a short recovery period. In a subsequent training phase, adding some longer sustained effort (2min+) with lots of recovery may help pushing that ceiling up... as well as the pain threshold! 

Our thanks to Coach Joanie!  If you want to improve your VO2max, reach out to Joanie at Altius Velo Cycling for a sample workout or to get a free training consultation.

Strength and Stability!

We bring you Part 2 of our popular series on improving your functional strength and stability from one20percent ambassador Gemma Slaughter, NASM-CPT, sub-3 hour marathoner and functional strength and conditioning trainer.  This month Gemma shares with us another of her favorite body-weight strength and stability exercises – the “dead bug” wall press.  This exercise improves balance and co-ordination, and strengthens and stabilizes the core, spine and back muscles.  Gemma tells us the key to mastering this exercise is control, mindfulness, and precision. 


Dead-Bug Wall Press


  • Strengthens and stabilizes your core, spine and back muscles
  • Improves coordination and balance 

Mental Focus: 

  • Gemma tells us that Dead-Bug is not intended to feel “hard” in the way heavy weight-lifting might feel
  • Improvements for this exercise are reached with mental focus, control, mindfulness and precision 


  • Lay on your back facing away from a wall or secure object
  • Tuck chin and reach overhead placing both palms into the wall allowing for a slight bend in both elbows
  • Raise both legs to 90 degrees from your hips, feet dorsiflexed
  • Breath in with both knees bent. On your exhale sloooowly lower one leg away from your torso towards the ground. Maintain control of your limbs by creating light pressure (10-15%) from your back into the ground below you
  • As you exhale, focus on deflating your belly of air, drawing your belly button inward towards your spine
  • Inhale as you bring your leg back to a 90-degree bend 

Perform 5-10 reps each side, resting as needed, for a total of 1-3 sets 

Gemma recommends starting with smaller repetitions for this exercise as the amount of “work” needed for your brain can tire you mentally before your core gives out.  She says you will know if you are moving with control if you find 10 reps in a row challenging. 

Some wise words of advice from Gemma on this one – “As with anything in life, what you put into this exercise is what you will get out of it. Make each repetition count!”

Our thanks to Gemma Slaughter for her expertise!  Learn more about Gemma’s training and personal one on one fitness programs at @gemmaslaughter and be sure to follow her fun and informative posts on social media. 

Recovery Hacks!

We asked our one20percent co-founder Sandra to share a few of her go-to post ride or run recovery tips that she uses to help reduce inflammation and recover faster.  Her favorites:

  • The “all-in” smoothie – I start thinking about this in the last hour of a long ride, gets me home faster! Always aim to refuel within 30 minutes of finishing your training.  This smoothie ticks all the boxes – it’s fast and easy to make, packed with antioxidants, uses stuff you have in your fridge, and tastes great. In a blender – mix frozen banana, blueberries, strawberries, crushed ice, 1 cup spinach (I know, sounds dubious but packed with good stuff) 1T flax seeds, 1T nut butter, 1/2c icelandic yogurt or coconut-based alternative, 1/2c almond milk, 1c water, scoop of protein power either plant-based or grass-fed, 1tsp cocoa powder.  Makes a satisfyingly large blender. 
  • My quick hack “hot-cold therapy session” is to finish up my post-workout shower by putting the water as hot as I can stand it for 30 seconds, then before I have time to over-think it, turn the tap to ice-cold and stand under it for a minute. First few times can be bracing, but it is addictive. The idea of hot-cold therapy is that the hot water creates vasodilation, and the cold water creates vasoconstriction, the contrast of relaxation and constriction of the blood vessels and lymphatic vessels can help move metabolic waste products out of the muscles to reduce inflammation. 
  • R120 Natural Recovery Cream – post shower I rub R120 on tired leg muscles for cooling and warming relief, put on compression socks (quite a fashion statement) and then feet up on the couch for 20 minutes!

R120 Natural Recovery Cream 

R120 naturally alleviates muscle and joint pain and reduces inflammation, helping you to recover faster, and give your one20percent effort, every day. 

R120 is scientifically formulated and designed to reduce pain and discomfort with a blend of powerful analgesic and anti-inflammatory natural and essential oils.  Our proprietary blend of unique ingredients includes organic Copaiba Oil, organic Arnica Montana Flower Extract, natural Menthol, Magnesium Chloride, and organic Licorice Root Extract, all combined with luxurious Shea Butter and organic Sweet Almond Oil into a smooth, hydrating cream that delivers soothing warming and cooling comfort.

Reduce Inflammation.  Recover Faster.  Perform Better. 

#protectyourbits with P120 and V120

Don’t let chafing woes interfere with your training, indoors or outside! 

Whether you are running, riding, or whatever you do, make sure you have a good anti-chafe chamois cream. Our petroleum-free P120 and V120 natural chamois creams for men and women are made with natural, effective, and non-toxic ingredients that are ethically sourced, natural plant derived and cruelty-free.