During training, we have a relatively limited view of the physiological aspects of our body’s performance. While we can get data points based on how we feel during exercise and check our heart rate, finding our true physical fitness requires more in-depth testing. This is where the Vo2 max test, lactate test, and various other tests come into play.
A big thing: Recently, Human Powered Health Labs invited me to their new location in Boston, MA, to undergo various physiological testing protocols.
- During the test session, I did the Vo2 max testing, lactate threshold testing, gait test, hydration test, and sweat test.
I am not a professional athlete by any stretch of the imagination. However, this is a good opportunity to see where I am in my training and for my personal development in human performance education.
- While I won’t dive into a play-by-play of my results, here are four major takeaways that I took from the testing protocol.
1. Deeper Physiological Understanding Isn’t Just For Pros: While the pros are prime candidates for repeated iterations of these intensive testing protocols, it’s important to understand what these tests can do for athletes and individuals at the amateur level.
- If you are trying to qualify for the Quarterfinals or improving your overall fitness, these tests can provide significant value beyond just benchmarking your fitness.
- Tests beyond just Vo2 max and lactate threshold testing helps you stay healthy as an amateur athlete and fitness enthusiast.
- The walking test is very useful for analyzing my running shoe’s compatibility with my foot and giving me ideas to improve my efficiency while I run.
- Through this test, I found that my lack of glute activation was the root of most of my running problems and I needed to focus on my warm ups and activations to avoid long term injury (even on quick runs exercise we see in CrossFit).
- In addition, I also noticed that my running efficiency dropped as I get slower, it means I have to focus on maintaining my technique, even on longer, slower runs.
- I also know the amount of sweat and salt I passed out during a two-hour training session, letting me know that I wasn’t drinking enough water or taking in enough salt or electrolytes.
- In the weeks since these trials, I have been able to implement some of these changes and have seen some real performance gains not only in my running workouts but also in how I feel post-workout after including more electrolytes in my water.
2. CrossFit Brings: While I didn’t have high expectations for the force plate test (given that I don’t consider myself a fast-twitch athlete), an interesting finding that came out of the test was the balance in my left and right legs.
- Despite years of rolling ankles, a partially torn Achilles, and a plantar fascia tear, my left and right leg have a little asymmetry.
- The same profile was determined during the gait test, where they found I had solid symmetry in my left and right leg.
- While no one will know the real reason behind my symmetryboth facilitators said that they could most likely attribute it to my CrossFit background.
- The base provided by CrossFit unmatched in terms of strength, athleticism, balance, and overall athletic well-roundedness.
- The ability to use CrossFit as the base of any sport should not be underestimated to develop balanced athletes in their overall physiological development.
3. Repetition Is Key: Just as we can never lift our back squat and call it good for the rest of our lives, the ability to repeat an attempt and continue to push our limits is the secret sauce that makes every athletic endeavor worth pursuing.
- While many of these tests – such as gait, hydration, and sweat tests – are highly self-explanatory and unlikely to change much over time, other tests are more dependent on their repetitive nature.
- Tests such as lactate threshold and Vo2 max tests designed to be repeated and engineered to push us to our absolute limits.
- The most exciting thing about these tests is the ability to go back to the drawing board, work hard for another six to eight months, and see where you land.
- This is the element of fitness which almost becomes an art form. Draw, sculpt, and create to release the final product hidden within the Vo2 max or the lactate threshold test.
- Like we use a rep max and “Woman” or “Hero” exercises to measure our progress, these tests should also be used in the same way.
- Magic is in constant development these snapshots rather than an individual moment in time.
4. Do Not Include Data: At the end of the tests, I was presented with an extensive data dashboard. The data reveals elements of my current endurance capacity according to my lactate threshold and Vo2 max test, as well as the other elements I mentioned above, such as my biomechanical analysis and hydration testing.
- While I am passionate about data and its applications in the fitness space, it is important to remember that these tests are only snapshots of our fitness profile.
- They are only signs of a moment in time, and it’s important to avoid getting too bogged down with data.
- While these tests can provide some valuable insights, as mentioned above, it can be easy to get lost in too much data analysis and forget that, at the end of the day, we are all here to train and enjoy something we love.
The big picture: While many of these tests were previously reserved for elite professional athletes, recent technological advances have allowed exercise physiologists to bring them to the consumer level. These tests are now invaluable tools for the everyday athlete to monitor, measure, and take their fitness to the next level.
After going through some of these tests, I feel there is a great value in understanding what is going on in your body on a deeper level. This is not only from the perspective of measuring your overall health but also making sincere changes to help prevent injury and help you feel better and stay healthy.