How can Lactate and VO2 Max testing make you faster?
Whether you’re a beginner or veteran, we all want to improve through proper training. When we talk about training, the focus is usually on duration or mileage while intensity only comes secondary. This can be detrimental to our performance since athletes tend to focus on merely doing the workouts rather than doing them well. The common problem is that people fall into the “more is better” mindset. We log more and more miles even if we’re doing the workouts slower and slower and making ourselves exponentially more tired.
This is where performance testing (e.g. lactate and VO2 Max Testing) comes in. By having a clearer picture of what our body is capable of, we can understand how hard or easy we need to push and the type of training we need to improve.
What is Lactate Testing and how can it help us?
Lactate testing, in a nutshell, is a way for us to understand how our body responds to intensity. In doing so, we can come up with a more complete plan for success.
For example, When we ask the question “How do we go faster?” It’s actually not as simple as we think. By going faster, are we looking at reaching a top speed (i.e. sprinting) or are we talking about maintaining a particular effort without fading (i.e. endurance). Going fast depends on what specific event or distance you’re preparing for. To answer this, we need to realize that body has two engines, our anaerobic (sprint) and aerobic (endurance) engines. We use both at the same time but to different extents. How much we use of each depends on how hard we’re going, the type of training we do, our fueling strategy, and even things like genetics.
Through lactate testing, we can have an idea regarding how much of the anaerobic or aerobic system we’re using. In doing so, we can understand whether we need to emphasize training our short distance speed or our endurance. Think of it as a way to assess what kind of training will give us the most bang for our buck.
What is VO2 Max and Metabolic Testing and how can we benefit from it?
VO2 Max is our the maximum amount of oxygen our body can utilize. You can think of this as your ceiling. We measure VO2 Max because it gives us a top view picture of your current fitness level. As with Lactate testing, knowing this will allow us to gauge our fitness level and figure out how we can improve it better. In simple terms, it answers the questions “Are we limited by our VO2 Max? And what can we do about it?
Metabolic testing, on the other hand, paints a larger picture; VO2 Max Testing is merely a subset of it. Metabolic testing unlocks a lot more knowledge since it reinforces or validates the data gathered from lactate testing. It guides us about us how hard (or easy) we need to go to maximize training our aerobic and anaerobic systems. With the synergy from the two, you have a more complete picture
Another key takeaway from metabolic testing is fueling data. Such a test can allow us to measure how many calories we burn across different intensities and how much of these come from carbohydrates or fat. It helps you understand your fueling (e.g. race nutrition) requirements. You finally have a better idea of how many gels, sports drinks, or bars you need to take in during training and races. It can also give you an idea about whether you’re ingesting too much and taking too many calories. Whether our goal is peak athletic performance or weight loss, metabolic testing can be a huge game changer!
How can these help us go faster?
Going faster is tied closely to building fitness. This is the reason why we train at all. But remember, training is not all about volume; another (perhaps more important) factor is intensity. Lactate and metabolic testing allow us to look beyond volume. These tests allow us to assess whether we’re training right and what adjustments we can make to improve further. With the help of data from the tests, we know what workouts we should focus on. These help us identify what’s the best bang for your buck! They help us target our weaknesses and limiters, in doing so, we can become more efficient and effective in training. Train Smart!