By Jared Berg, Exercise Physiologist
What is physiological testing and why should we do it?
A physiology test is a great way to analyze fitness when you’re not in a race season. Take it from the pros. We watch them on TV, track them on Strava, and try to emulate some of their practices to boost our performance. Guess what they are doing this time of year, provided they are not racing ‘cross? That’s right, testing and training for the next season! The off-season is a key component for all athletes; it is in this off-season where we do a hard reset in preparation for the upcoming year. Many of the top teams have multiple training camps, but it’s not all about training and logging miles on the road. They are testing their physiology – establishing baselines after a post-season rest, identifying areas for improvement, and utilizing physiological parameters to build a big base. This base acts as a diving board from which they can jump off and into a successful start to the season.
<— Pierre Roland getting after it during his Full Physiological Test in our lab
Physiological testing is also the best way to determine training zones. In truth, we use training zones to keep up us from getting in our own way. If left to our own devices, we might underachieve by training too lightly. More often than not, however, we tend to train too hard and over-cook ourselves! There are many different methods of defining training zones. The popular 220 minus your age is only accurate to around 30% in the first place, so I wouldn’t recommend it for most. Extrapolating your training zones based off of a tested Functional Threshold Power is better, but the accuracy of your zones depends on how well your physiology fits into the algorithm used to define training zones based off of FTP.
FTP does not tell the whole story. Just because you can do ‘x’ watts for 20 minutes means nothing at hour 4 of a race if you’ve already burned through all of your fitness, paced poorly, or trained at the wrong power, pace, or Heart Rate zones leading up to an event. While many athletes look for that one golden nugget to answer the question of “What’s my threshold?” during their phys test, we look deeper at the numbers to give our athletes information that they can utilize at every stage of an event or at any point in their training blocks.
How do we determine training zones in the physiology lab? By utilizing a novel methodology developed by Dr. Inigo San Millan and accepted as a non-invasive method for assessing mitochondrial function, we utilize your lactate response and pair it with fat and carbohydrate oxidation to give specific training ranges that are based around your individual physiology.
From here, it’s time to get out there and start the work. Some of the most difficult miles can be those base miles because they are meant to work in specific physiological parameters to optimize mitochondrial function. We follow-up with athletes throughout the base phase and into their seasons to look at other areas that can impact performance including Muscle Energy Status, Physiological follow-up tests to check for progress and to update training ranges, and Nutrition or Hydration parameters.
<—– Andrew Talansky signalling that everything is a-OK so far during his Physiological Test
For all of our athletes, whether recreational or elite, we offer a number of services and package options to generate baseline data and get your off season started right:
Indoor Cycling participants have special pricing on Lactate Profiling! Optimize your indoor training with scientifically-determined training zones so you can maximize your time and fitness gains. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!
Additional offerings include:
Full Physiological Test
Muscle Energy Status
DARI Functional Movement Screen
Retul 3D Bike Fitting with Saddle Pressure Mapping
Check our web site at www.cusportsmedcenter.com/performance for more information and to book your appointment!
Be sure to come for our Free Community Lecture Series this Fall and Winter, Monday evenings at the center from 6-7pm. Learn more about physiology and how to apply it to your training and goals. Additional topics include Personalized Nutrition, Research Frontiers, Cycling Biomechanics, and some hands-on Functional Strength and Movement seminars!
Learn more at www.cusportsmedcenter.com/community