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VO2 max test explained: The protocol
The VO2 Max is test one of Cycology Lab’s most popular metabolic tests. VO2 max is the gold standard in cardiorespiratory fitness analysis and gives athletes a direct measurement of their maximal oxygen consumption. The physiological efficiency in transporting oxygen to skeletal muscles is scored in ml/Kg/min.
The cycling VO2 max test follows a stepped-test protocol whereby resistance is gradually increased over time until exhaustion. The test is ‘fine-tuned’ depending on your age and sex. A typical cycling VO2 max test begins with a 5 minute warm up with a resistance of 100 watts. The first increment increase will ramp up to 175 watts of resistance, and continue to increase by 25 watts every minute until the test subject can no longer maintain a constant cadence between 90-105 rpm. The test itself is intense, and generally lasts anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on aerobic fitness.
We like to think of the test as “small pains for large gains!”
Heart rate training zones are also calculated during the test. This means that you can target specific heart rate zones in order to achieve specific goals. Training in your VO2 max zone for example requires extended periods of recovery due to the intensity of the training. Individual tolerances will vary depending on the athlete’s ‘training age,’ fitness level and predisposition to injury. At most, 2 x sessions at VO2 max intensity per week should be used with easy recovery work in between. Physiological adaptations that occur in this training zone include:
• Increased lactic acid tolerance
• Elevated VO2 max
• Improved endurance speed
Lactate (Anaeorobic) Threshold Analysis: Understanding your Anaerobic Threshold and expoiting your biometrics
Anaerobic threshold analysis is one of the most useful tools that Cycology Lab has to offer. The test is designed to accurately measure the precise exercise intensity whereby an athlete can deliver their best performance over a long period of time. The test is similar to the VO2 max test, except that that the intervals are a little longer to allow adequate time to reach ‘steady state’ and capillary blood to equilibrate. Blood samples are taken every three minutes and blood lactate accumulation in mmol/L is recorded. The results of the test reveal the maximum heart rate (bpm) or maximum power (watts) an athlete can sustain over a long period of time before feeling the effects of overexertion. Knowing your lactate threshold is key to producing maximum performance whilst still efficiently recycling and utilising lactate as a fuel source.
Haematocrit & Haemoglobin Measurement
When competition is starting to get serious it’s important to make sure that your haematocrit (availability of red blood cells) falls within the acceptable ranges (i.e. maximum 50% haematocrit for cyclists). If your haematocrit is above this value it will arouse the suspicion of doping or foul play. For peace of mind, we recommend that your haematocrit is checked regularly throughout your training season and especially before major competition events.