VO2 Max Test, Eastern Washington University
By this time next week my Tri-Fusion team mates and I will be reminiscing about how we finished (hopefully all of us) the 2011 Ironman 70.3 California. It's the first big race of the year to kick off the 2011 season for most all of us. And if the reality of heading down to Oceanside, California and adding my name to the list of athletes competing hasn't set in yet, I just found out the exact time I'll be starting, 7:42 am. I am in WAVE 21, the third to last group to begin. I'll be wearing a purple swim cap and lumped in with men between the ages 35 -39 with last names starting with A-Gol. My age group has three waves, must be kind of big?! If you know someone racing check out the "Participant List and Bib Numbers. I'm #2566.
I started training for this race in early November of 2010. Except for a two week break around New Year's, I've been training non-stop. My coach has designed a well organized plan for me to follow and I'm proud to say, I've followed it to a T. In previous seasons I was hit and miss and my results reflected that lack of consistency. Not this year. I've really come to appreciate the value of training consistently. As with most competitive athletes I have a goal time in mind but won't share it until after the race. One of the great unknowns in racing is weather conditions, nutrition throughout the race, the course and sometimes mechanical. So in a way, it's pointless to throw out a finish time when so many 'other' factors can come into play.
During the lead up to this race a few of my Tri-Fusion teammates and I decided to measure our fitness level up to that point. So, on the morning of February 12, 2011 we all took a trip to Cheney, Washington and had our body fat measured and our VO2 Max tested at Eastern Washington University. The University's Exercise Science Program Director, Dr. Wendy Repovich conducted the testing. I was really excited to learn where my overall fitness level stood especially after spending most of the winter training indoors. Eighteen months early I had my body fat tested to the tune 15.6 percent. I was about 187 pounds back then.
On this day I tipped the scales at 181.9 pounds, I've since dipped below 180 and changed my eating habits.
Before we tested our VO2 Max, we had our body fat measured on two different machines. The first was inside a BOD POD, the second was with the "Tanita Body Composition Analyzer."
Based on my BOD POD results, my body composition test results found my overall body fat percentage at 12.7 or 23.1 pounds. My lean mass was 87.3% or 158.8 pounds. Lean mass is defined as muscle, water, bone and internal organs, everything besides fat.
Under the body fat rating system I fall under the 'LEAN' category which means I have lower body fat levels than most people and I'm in the 'excellent range' for health and longevity. An elite male athlete is defined by 5 to 8 percent body fat. I have a long way to go to get there.
My resting metabolic rate was 1,900 calories a day which means if I spent all day on the couch watching t.v. and didn't move a muscle, I would still need just under two thousand calories to survive; theoretically. O.k., this is where it gets technical, you may want to skip down a paragraph. My calorie needs were broken into two parts, my resting energy expenditure (REE) or resting metabolic rate (RMR): the amount of calories needed to maintain basic body systems and body temperature at rest AND my activity energy expenditure (AEE): the amount of calories used during activity. The estimated total energy expenditure (TEE) is my REE plus my AEE. My activity level was defined at 'very active'. So my RMR is 1,900 calories and my TEE is 3950 calories per day. Dr. Repovich says if I wanted to lose one pound per week, I would need to eat 500 fewer calories per day.
After the BOD POD experience I was hooked up to a "Tanita Body Composition Analyzer." This was much less claustrophobic. All we had to do was hold a pair of hand grips. It provided each of us a segmental analysis of our entire body in terms of fat percentage, fat mass, fat free mass and predicted muscle mass. I learned that each of my legs had 4 pounds of fat and about 25 pounds of predicted muscle mass. My arms had about one pound of fat in each and 9.6 and 9.4 pounds of predicted muscle mass. I'm o.k. with that. One of the most interesting pieces of data I received from the "Tanita Body Composition Analyzer" was where I hold the highest percentage of my body fat. Answer, my trunk. Based on the results that day, It held 14.2 pounds of fat and 83.2 pounds of fat free mass which equal about 14.6 percent fat.
The VO2 Max test provided the most valuable information on the day. The intimidation factor of this test is running until I can't run anymore. I don't like going into a test knowing I will fail physically before it's over. I'm a little embarrassed to say I only lasted 14:30 minutes before stopping.
My pace was set at 5.6 to establish a base heart rate then the test administrator increased the incline 2 percent every two minutes. And let me tell you, it's not the pace that gets you during the test, it's the incline. My peak incline was 14% and my peak heart rate hit 187 beats per minute. The goal of the test was to learn my anaerobic threshold (AT), was 175 heart beats per minute. My AT was 93% of my maximum heart rate of 187 (I reached a max of 191 on my bike test at home).
When it was all said and done, Dr. Wendy Repovich found that my body does a good job utilizing both carbohydrates and fats during hard exercise whereas others may use one or the other.
According to my results, during the first 3 minutes of testing, fat was the primary source of my energy and then once I hit 3 and half minutes, the line graph showed my carbohydrates and fats crossing over. They continued to take turns being my primary source of energy until minute seven. That's when the carbohydrates took over and my fats took a nose dive.
As a result of my "indirect calorimetry" results, Dr. Repovich says carbohydrate loading is good idea for me before a big workout or race. Based on my fuel use comparison, I have a normal ratio of slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers which I'm told is good for triathletes.
Overall, I'm very happy with the experience. I certainly learned a lot about how my body works and what it needs to perform at a high level. Thanks for reading through all this. The four of us, Greg, Natalie, Nate and myself plan on going back in a few months to compare our fitness level. I plan on lasting longer than 14 and a half minutes.
Below is a short video of how my VO2 testing went.
Don't forget to visit Dave's web site HERE for more great triathlon interviews and videos.