Performance Testing – VO2 Max Testing & Lactate Testing
Are you training with all the facts?
A finely tuned and planned training program is a key element in maximizing your training time and improving performance. One of the most important parts of a structured training plan is to train at the correct intensity. Using a heart rate monitor or cycling power meter are both excellent methods to monitor intensity during workouts and races.
When using intensity monitoring devices it is crucial to establish training zones based around your lactate threshold (LT), often times referred to as anaerobic threshold (AT). Sports Science research has shown that using lactate threshold to establish training zones is the most precise way to set up training zones.
Often times athletes use formulas, such as 220-age, to estimate maximum heart rate. These types of formulas have statistical value for a large population, but are not very applicable to individuals especially athletes focused on improving performance. Maximum heart rate differences are very large within people of the same age and can vary 20 to 30 beats.
Using a fixed percentage of actual maximum heart rate is another popular method for establishing training zones. This method presents some potential sources of error. Athletes with the same maximum heart rate may have very different lactate threshold heart rates. One person’s LT may occur at 65% of max while the other athlete’s LT could occur at 85% of max. This 20 percentage point difference can be a 35 beat difference in actual heart rate.
Performing individual time trials, conconi tests, and other subjective methods used to determine zones are a bit more accurate than max heart rate equations, but they still are estimates and can be affected by many factors.
Lab testing of LT/AT is the most accurate method for establishing zones and until recently was only available for elite athletes or through University performance labs.
This type of testing is often referred to as metabolic testing, VO2 max testing, or lactate threshold testing.
Now it is available for the amateur athlete!