posted May 14, 2012, 4:53 PM by Andrew Jamieson

Before I launch into various types of testing, it is important to note why you would want to be tested in the first place. Why would a person suffer through a maximal exercise test, or find out what your body fat is?

There are several reasons, the first, and I believe the most important, is that testing provides current information on the correct intensities to train at. This information is specific for the individual and changes as your fitness changes. To put this into perspective, lets take Lance Armstrong, and a sofa warrior, both aged 33. If we use 220-age to determine max HR then 220-33=187. Now we decide to prescribe both these men with the same endurance training workout of 70-80% of max HR 131-150bpm (beats per minute).This effort for the sofa warrior is likely to be producing a lot more lactic acid, than Lance’s effort, as he is going to be working a higher percentage of his AT (Anaerobic Threshold or OBLA-Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation). Lance’s huge aerobic fitness means his body produces a lot less Lactic acid and that his AT will occur at a higher HR. The sofa warrior may be over his AT at 150 bpm whereas Lance still has still has a good 28 bpm before he reaches his. This means that at 150 bpm our sofa warrior is at 100% of his AT and Lance is at only 83 %. This is only looking at HR and doesn’t show the huge differences between the two in terms of power output. As aerobic fitness increases so to does the amount of power, produced at a given HR.From this short example we can see that testing will help us know what our current AT, and relative training intensities are, as well as the amount of power we can produce at each. This helps us to track progress, determine if a training block was effective, or even compare ourselves to athletic population data. Most of all though, this information will help give us accurate, personalised, training intensities for our current fitness level. When we use these intensities in our training we train more effectively and make the most of the time we have available.

In the next Fitlab Blog I will discuss some physiological tests which can be used to help improve our performance, including: VO2 max, Anaerobic Threshold (also known as AT, LT or OBLA).

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