Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Can Sport Science Fitness Testing Help You?

Chris Reid, who has hosted the Weekend Wakeup Show on CJOB am radio for the past one and a half years was subjected to some sport science fitness testing: blood lactate testing while exercising on a stationary bike.

I amended the test by deleting the maximal exertion portion of the test.  How do you test someones fitness if they don't go as hard as they can?

Fitness testing has come a long way.  We now test according to what information we need, instead of using generalized tests or formulas.  If we're looking for suitable intensity levels for base conditioning we no longer have to push a person to their limit then extrapolate their appropriate levels of intensity for quality exercise.

By sampling Chris's blood lactate we we're able to monitor how his muscle metabolism was responding to exercise, then accurately determine what heart rate he should exercise at.  For more details on lactate testing go here.

So how fit is Chris?  He's more fit than the average sedentary Canadian (insert sound of crickets).  OK so that's not exactly fit. Those cyclists we see riding their bikes in Winnipeg snow storms?  Not that fit. Chris achieved the correct level of intensity for an easy steady pace that would make his muscles, heart, and lungs function better (that's what fitness is), but without the intensity feeling like you're going cough up a lung, and won't leave you feeling sore the next day.

The heart rate Chris should exercise at is 120 -125 beats per minute, where Chris's legs produce enough power to run a 100W light bulb.  By comparison the average avid bicycle commuter will reach this level of exertion at about 160W, the average weekend warrior skier, runner, cyclist, will reach this level around 170-200W, amateur athletes 200-220W, and pro athletes about 280W (these numbers are greatly influenced by the size of the person; smaller more svelte people put out lower numbers, and larger more muscular people put out higher numbers).

Incase you were wondering, the worlds top cyclists when going all out for an hour will hold around 500 watts.  Try 500W on a stationary bike at your local gym to get sense of how much power a pro can hold for an hour.  Top sprinters will peak out at 1700-2200 Watts for about 5 seconds.

Keep in mind Chris's levels aren't peak levels, 100W is the intensity Chris would exercise at for 30 to 60 minutes and have it feel easy.  Once he adapts to the easy exercise Chris will start doing more intensive interval training, but starting off with an intensity that won't feel too terribly demanding.  Once Chris get's through the base conditioning phase, his body will be more tolerant to hard exercise.  Exercise too hard too soon and adaptation is not very effective, and risk of excess soreness and injury is greater.  When Chris is ready, which won't be long from now, he'll go hard and turn his body into lean, mean fighting machine!

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