Effects of Anemia on Performance

I was wondering what, if any, effects being anemic might have on performance metrics. Specifically, I was thinking MAP since it is correlated to VO2 Max. Just curious.

Massive. Been there, climbing my way back out. I was so aenemic I needed transfusions. You fuel right, you train right, you recover and rest right, but if your blood can’t bind to oxygen, you are stuffed. My VO2 suffered the most as did my endurance. Sprint was still ok, but instead of having 6 or 7 sprint matches, I had 1.


Thanks for your response. Both my red and white blood cell counts are low. Red lower than white. I was reviewing my blood work lab results and wondered if this be having an impact.

I had iron deficiency anaemia which is different to what you have if your red cell count is low. Pressure your Doc into sorting you out asap hope you feel better soon

Unfortunately, I think mine is a chronic condition related to blood cell production. At this point, it’s not too serious, but I do see a hematologist twice a year. The numbers have been pretty stable for awhile.


You aren’t alone. If I had 50 percent more red blood cells I’d still be well within the normal range…and they can’t find a reason for it.

It’s rather discouraging.


My relationship of red blood cell count to normal is very similar. Mine is a bone marrow issue. They did a bone marrow biopsy to rule out leukemia.

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@dmgadry61, @DameLisa, and @Yojimbo, I am very sorry about the anemic conditions that you have to manage. It sounds very challenging, and I hope you may all find relief and aid. In reviewing the Wahoo Knowledge blog, I came across an article titled, By the Numbers: What is Vo2 Max?, and although oxygen transportation is highly critical to sports performance, there are other metrics that are less related to blood oxygen saturation. Some other key components to growing proficiency in the sport of cycling are:

  • Bike Handling Skills
  • Gross Efficiency - divide the mechanical energy put into the bike (watts) by the total energy expended to produce that work
  • Cycling Economy - the volume of oxygen required for a given power output, which is largely a function of fuel utilization (fats/carbs.), as you produce less energy per liter of oxygen with fat compared to carbohydrates
  • Speed Economy - largely a function of equipment and aerodynamics

Success in sport is often about understanding how to wisely respond to the multitude of variables we must contend with. We may have limited influence on the ability to alter certain aspects of our physiology, but we can continue to learn and adapt the best we can to these adversities, and we must also learn to see other variables that play a role in our desired end result, and wisely choose the best response considering our time, energy, and resources available.

Wishing you all the best,
Coach Corey


Thanks @WahooCoach_Corey that is a brilliantly helpful article.
Am really feeling for @dmgadry61 and @Yojimbo because at least I can sort my issues out through supplementing and the odd transfusion. Sounds like these two have to live with their anaemia and I know just how tired and washed out it can make one feel. :cry: You are both amazing!!!

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@WahooCoach_Corey and @DameLisa

I appreciate your advice and thoughts on my situation. I feel very fortunate my situation has been relatively stable for a few years. It has its challenges, but things could be so much worse. For the most part, I feel pretty good. Occasionally, I will have a tough day energy wise, but I just try to push through it. Doing a workout usually helps me.

It was reading the article on VO2 max that got me thinking about whether my condition might be a limiting factor in my performance. I certainly have made nice improvements in my 4DP numbers over the last 7 months and will continue to push them higher. I very much enjoy the challenge.


Which of the 4 dimensions do you think is most directly impacted by my condition? Just curious.



This question might be best for @Coach.Mac.C, but in order of most impacted to least impacted, I would suspect the order would be

  1. Maximum Aerobic Power
  2. Threshold
  3. Anaerobic Capacity
  4. Neuromuscular Power

Thanks for your response. It’s sort of what I expected, but I wasn’t sure whether the most affected would be MAP or FTP.