Benefits of Performance Testing
How can I benefit from a VO2 test? What information does it provide that will help with my training and racing goals? Will it help me qualify for Kona? While there is no guarantee it will help punch your ticket to Kona, VO2 testing will provide valuable feedback that can make your training very purposeful and your race day a success.
What exactly is the feedback I get from a VO2 test and how can I make it work for me? First, let’s do a quick review of your energy systems. Almost all endurance athletes are familiar with the terms “Aerobic” and “Anaerobic”. In general terms, the Aerobic System burns mostly fat and the Anaerobic System burns mostly carbohydrates. As a fuel source for endurance events, fat is the most abundant and provides hours of energy. How do we control the fuel that we use during training and a race? It is all about getting into the correct zones.
Using the right energy system is as easy as strapping on a heart rate monitor and exercising within specific zones. However, accurately knowing your zones is very important and the key heart rate indicator is Anaerobic Threshold (AT). AT indicates the point at which your body can no longer deliver oxygen to your muscles in quantities necessary to burn fat as a primary fuel source. We usually just refer to this as “hitting the wall” or “bonking.” There are a variety of methods for determining AT, but most methods are merely averages of people in your age group.
A more accurate way to get your Anaerobic Threshold and target heart rate zones is to measure how much oxygen your body is using as you increase the intensity of your workout. This can be accomplished through VO2 testing. Through a simple, graded exercise test, you can target Anaerobic Threshold and determine a range of zones corresponding to recovery, endurance, tempo and interval workouts.
What are the advantages of VO2 testing and knowing your heart rate training zones? The biggest advantage is that you get accurate answers and take the guess work out of training. Here are some more:
Know Your Intensity Level:
Are your recovery days truly allowing your body to recover? Are your speed intervals truly pushing you to the next level or are just training in the “mushy” middle. By knowing your zones, you know you are training at the right level to maximize performance.
For some very competitive athletes, every workout can be a fine line between optimal training and over-training. Heart rate zone training helps to avoid unnecessary stress on your body. You can maximize the efficiency of your training, while minimizing the potential for injury.
Hard to believe for most of us, but some athletes are not tapping into their true potential.
Find what intensity level or what pace you can maintain while in your individualized zones. Knowing your zones eliminates the guess work.
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