Want peak performance this winter? Consider physiological testing


Below is an article that Dr. Andy Pasternak and I wrote for the Reno Gazette Journal. Martha Bellisle wrote a personal sidebar of her Vo2max testing experience.

Physiological testing provides the tools to maximize your training time investment.

Often, we find that it’s the person relatively new to exercise who benefits the most from testing.

Athletes can gain a deeper understanding of how individualized training zones connect to their fitness goals. This information can take an athlete from unproductively and mindlessly going through the motions to purposeful, motivated daily workouts.

Athletes can have a limited timeframe for exercise and do the same activity at the same intensity, every day. We all know people who diligently runs for 30 minutes and are mystified why they are not experiencing fitness gains.

At Silver Sage Sports Performance, we primarily serve people determined to optimize their limited workout time and achieve results.

We work with individuals pursuing a range of fitness goals, from weight loss and general fitness to master athletes and elite competitors looking to peak for their next event by offering a menu of physiological tests to support them.

Testing and the resulting training tools can be applied to athletes of all abilities and interests, across a variety of disciplines. We work with a range of aerobic, endurance-inclined clients, including triathletes (road and Xterra), runners (road and trail), cycling (road and mountain), hikers, snowshoers and Nordic skiers. Testing can also be helpful to those more anaerobically inclined athletes such as track runners and alpine skiers.

How it works

Testing includes resting metabolic rate, lactate threshold and Vo2max.

The RMR determines an individual’s basic daily caloric requirements. It also indicates how your body uses fats and carbohydrates for fuel at rest. RMR testing is especially of interest for individuals interested in maintaining or losing weight.

Lactate threshold testing is done by obtaining a small sample of blood while exercising at increasing intensity. Once we graph your individual data, we can then help you determine your heart rate zones and speed as you train to meet your goals. This test is also our favorite way to demonstrate how your exercise program is improving your fitness.

A VO2 test indicates the body’s ability — at maximum efforts — to deliver and utilize oxygen during exercise. It measures cardio-respiratory fitness and aerobic performance potential. We also use this test to show people how their body uses fats and carbohydrates at various heart rate levels.

While the LT and VO2 tests can be administered individually, it is often beneficial to couple these tests to provide the most definitive data.

Why test?

Physiological testing provides invaluable understanding to empower athletes and improve their training.

The tests provide baseline data for each individual’s current fitness. It serves as a science-based starting point upon which to develop a systematic, progressive training program.

This contrasts with generic training plans presented in books or websites, which use an arbitrary training plan starting point, and do not take the individual’s fitness in to consideration.

The initial baseline also acts as a reliable, valid performance tracker. Following a three- to six-month period of consistent, progressive systematic training, there is a clear base of comparison.

Testing helps the athlete, from recreational to elite, avoid common training pitfalls and focus each day’s workout toward achieving the ultimate goal.

Individuals also learn and understand the importance of quality intensity and quality rest, and incorporating variety in to the weekly training plan.

Successful training plans at every level are based on gradual progression and systematic variety of elements relative to each individual’s current fitness and future goals.

A well-structured training plan utilizes an individual’s training zones to develop a program that progressively stresses/challenges the body’s central and peripheral components, while countering the workload with rest and recovery. This plan achieves continual fitness gains.

Andy Pasternak owns Silver Sage Center for Family Medicine and Silver Sage Sports Performance Center. Julie Young is director of Silver Sage Sports Performance Center and owner/head coach-performance trainer at o2fitness Coaching and Training.