One of the benefits of living near a major hospital is the opportunity to be poked and prodded for science. These studies usually involve remuneration and are rarely the kind of thing you consider doing absent a specific interest in a project or need some easy money. A couple of months ago, I signed up for a test because it offered the opportunity to take a VO2 Max test for free. Usually, these kinds of tests can only be found in sports medicine programs, and can be expensive. I jumped at the chance to learn more about my physical condition and have another tool to focus my training. However, I can only expect this to be a one-time test, and will hope to alter my training and use any future tests I might happen into for further analysis of my training over the longer term.
This test was taken on a bicycle, though some are performed while running. The point of the test is to push you to your physical limit while observing how your body absorbs and expels Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide during the increasingly difficult exercise. They took my weight and height and some blood for labs. I was heavier than I expected but right about where I expected for height. Weight is a determining factor and one of the ways to increase your VO2 Max is to decrease your body weight. My weight has been a bit of a battle for me lately because I have been bulking from lifting so much weight. After the initial measurements and blood draws, I was prepped to get on the bike.
The Bike was set up like a spin bike, but with road and aero bars. The pedals had cages, but the guy running the test said they had a clip-less set-up. I was slightly frustrated by not having my cycling shoes, but I don’t know if it would have made a very large difference. The test went for about 10 minutes. I scored 39.6 on the VO2 Max, and that puts me in a pretty average range for my age. My maximum heart rate was 171, which is low for my calculated maximum. Basically, this result was unremarkable, and barely showed I had been training cardio.
My anaerobic threshold results were telling, and really provides the best indication of where my training needs work. My AT was at about 135 bpm heart rate. This happened 6 minutes into the work out and at 200 watts resistance. That seems low, and means that most of my training lately has been taking place above my AT, which doesn’t directly help cardiovascular strength.
I came across an article recently that discusses this exact point. Basically, base cardio is built with training in HR Zone II, where you burn both carbohydrates and fat for fuel. This would also explain why I am not losing much weight, but that is mere speculation as I haven’t been very consistent with my diet. Regardless, my seemingly normal VO2 Max result indicates pretty clearly I am not training effectively for cardiovascular fitness. As a result, I am changing up my training to have more longer duration lower HR sessions on the bike and skates. I am going to use the time on skates to work technique.
Speaking of technique, I am also attending the Joey Mantia Clinic in June that will be at the Roseville Oval. I am really looking forward to learning a lot more about technique, and will likely update these pages around that time. For now, though, I guess I am headed back to the bike.