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The Importance of Physiology Testing

Physiology Testing

Lone Peak Performance offers a wide range of services targeted to optimize human performance. By working with Lone Peak's Exercise Physiologists, you will acquire the tools and awareness needed to train with purpose. Whether you're training for your first triathlon, trying to beat your best time in the Big Sky Biggie, or striving to improve your overall health, Tom will help you achieve your health and fitness goals with data and evidence-based plans individualized to your needs.

What Performance Testing Can Do For You

Results from performance testing represent so much more than just bragging rights. Performance tests like VO2max, Lactate Threshold, and Power Profiling give coaches the exact information they need to plan and design training plans that are as efficient and effective as possible. Why waste time doing something that won’t lead you to your goals?

The Importance of Setting Performance Goals

It is crucial to define the demands of what you’re training for. Will your training lead to the specific physiological adaptations required to meet these demands? Performance testing exposes your strengths and weaknesses as an endurance athlete so that you know exactly how to train.

Physiology Tests: 

VO2max Test

Lactate Threshold Testing

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

VO2max Test

VO2max, or maximal oxygen consumption, refers to an individual’s ability to deliver oxygen to skeletal muscle to utilize for energy during intense or maximal exercise. This is the ultimate measure of cardiopulmonary and metabolic function and is generally considered to be one of the best indicators of endurance performance.

The good news is that once we test and understand each athlete’s current VO2 max, it allows us to design better training programs, specifically tailored to the unique needs of the individual.  This individualized, genetically specific programming translates into improved maximum aerobic capacity (VO2max), aerobic threshold, anaerobic threshold, and energy efficiency.  Ultimately, you will feel better, train better and perform better!

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What is involved?

  • When conducting a VO2max test, the individual first warm up on their chosen exercise modality (ex. treadmill, bike, etc.) and is familiarized with wearing the face mask. The face mask allows us to directly measure the volume of inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide.
  • We are also continuously measuring heart rate to help determine precise heart rate-based training zones.
  • The test is designed to bring the individual to the maximal effort by exercising at a fixed pace with increased intensity until volitional fatigue/exhaustion. For example, a runner may run at a speed of 5.0 mph while increasing the grade (%) every minute until he or she decides they cannot go any longer. 

Pretest Guidelines

1. Please do not partake in unaccustomed exercise the day before the test.  Training sessions should consist of light recovery workouts for the 36 hours leading up to testing.

2. Avoid activity in the morning before the test.

3. Follow a normal diet in the 2 days preceding the test. Eat as you would when preparing for a race.

4. Consume adequate amounts of fluid in the 12 hours prior to testing. Aim for at least 1 Liter of water 2 hours before the test.

5. Diet on the day of the test:

Morning Test

  • Light meal 1-1.5 hours prior to testing is acceptable.

Afternoon Test (1:00 pm to 5:00 pm):

  • Normal breakfast and mid-morning snack.

6. Avoid the following on the 24 hours leading up to your test:

    • Smoking
    • Excessive Caffeine
    • Alcohol
    • Supplements that can affect aerobic performance (eg:  Sodium Bicarbonate, cold medication, etc.)

7. No respiratory illness during the 2 weeks preceding testing. For other types of acute illness, please clear this with the testing center on a case-by-case basis.

8. Wear the shoes you train in if running test or bring your bike if it is bike test.

Lactate Threshold Testing

Lactate threshold is the level of exercise intensity that causes an accumulation of lactate in the muscles faster than it can be cleared. Exercise cannot be sustained above an individual’s lactate threshold for long periods of time before they experience fatigue. The higher someone’s lactate threshold is in relation to their VO2max, the better they will be able to tolerate high-intensity exercise.  The lactate threshold can be improved with optimized training programming.

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What is the cost?


How does an athlete use this information?

Three examples:

By getting a lactate threshold test, an athlete will know what heart rate they need to be exercising at to be at their lactate threshold. With this information, they will know exactly what heart rate they should be exercising at for interval training sessions.

An athlete will also learn what their aerobic threshold is. This intensity is used to determine how hard the intensity should be on long-duration training sessions.

This is also a great test to track progress in endurance athletes. For example, with successful training, an athlete might be able to increase their running speed from 8 mph to 10 mph before they reach their lactate threshold. Hence, they will be able to run faster before hitting their lactate threshold and experience less fatigue.

How is this test structured?

This test is similar to VO2max, in that, it involves incremental increases in exercise intensity on a bike or treadmill. At the end of each 3 minutes, intensity stage (i.e. 150 W, 180 W, 210 W), the Exercise Physiologist will prick the athlete's finger or ear lobe to obtain a blood lactate measurement.

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

RMR is a simple test which uses our metabolic analyzer to determine the number of calories per day an individual would use if they were to be sedentary all day. It also determines the % of carbohydrates and fats burned during rest. This test provides a powerful metric for anyone who has body composition goals (loose fat, increase muscle, etc…) or wants more insight into what their body prefers to burn as a fuel source.

Leaving the test, the patient will know how many calories they should be eating based on whether they are exercising or sedentary each day. If applicable, the patient will be set up with a food tracker to help them track calories throughout the day. In some cases, patients will be referred out to a local nutritionist.

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What is the cost?