With my many years as a professional coach I’ve seen quite a few different terms meaning the same thing. Typically, the big differences come between English and American’s, why can’t we just speak the same language…?

Anyway, this gives me an excellent opportunity to dive in and translate the situation. Here are my main offenders, the relative terms for components of fitness. If you’re unclear on what that means, a component of fitness is an area which determines a different performance aspect. Read on and you’ll soon understand.


The British Cycling definition of speed is not anything to do with velocity, it’s actually referring to speed skill, also known as cadence work or simply leg speed! It is the ability, or flexibility, to spin one’s legs at a faster rate. At some point in your cycling trainingyou should always train this, it can be especially important if you are looking to improve efficiency, recovery or sprinting, among many other goals.


If you’re British, you might refer to strength as on or off the bike work. If you’re American, you might refer to this as purely off the bike, and call on the bike strength work force. Either way, when talking about this it is the act of building greater strength in your body. Like speed, strength should always be trained at some point in your year, but might be especially important if you are looking to do hilly rides, track or many other goals.

Aerobic Endurance:

Defined as any longer sustained effort where the oxygen is present. It can be split into further sub-categories. Base workmight indicate the lower intensity of this component of fitness, whereas muscular endurance, speed work or even power sessions are common for the higher intensity. This is commonly trained for all disciplines of cycling, although the intensity of this will be indicated by what your goals are and how much time you have available.

Anaerobic Endurance:

Defined as any effort where oxygen isn’t present, if you’re unclear what this might be it is typically short sharp blurts, such as sprints or gym work. This might be one of the only commonly similar terms, however, it might be referred to as VO2 training as well. Again, this is something that you will need to train at some point in your year. If you follow standard periodisation, this will be near to your target event and reverse periodisation this might be more off-season.


Peak muscular power, peak power, power, all names that might be referring to sprinting. You might not target this type of training if you’re not going to be doing any sprinting in your target event, but you could still include some efforts like this in your training, good to freshen it up and you might get good cross component of fitness adaptation too. Sprinting is typically one of the more enjoyable areas of cycling.

Short Term Muscular Endurance:

This one can be tricky as, my understanding is, American’s will refer to upper aerobic endurance work as muscular endurance. Here, British Cyclingrefers to STME as shorter, still sustained, bursts of power which might look like a hill climb or bridging a gap between groups. American’s might simply call this power work. Like I just mentioned, you will be training this almost regardless of your target, it’ll be unlikely your event won’t include some form of short, sustainable, burst of power!

You’ll find that, regardless of what you call it, you’ll train these components of fitness at least once in your season. Hopefully, I’ve covered all the terms bounded around for these as well, I’m sure there are some obscure ones I’ve missed! Please leave me a comment below if you think I’ve missed one.

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