VO2 Metabolic Test Results
Completing a metabolic VO2 test is a great way to kickstart your training. The results will help improve the effectiveness of your running, cycling, and rowing performance. A structured training plan developed around your heart rate zones will help you make the most of your training time.
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Through the completion of a metabolic test, you will receive detailed information on your training heart rate zones, fuel usage breakdown, and VO2. A section-by-section breakdown of a 50-year-old mountain bike athlete is below.
Running VO2 Test Results Explained
The first page of the results is a summary that includes the big take home measurements from the test. Also included on the first page of the report are the recommendations for training based on the results of the test and prior discussion on the goals of the athletes’ current training.
Active Metabolic Report
The second section of the report provides the breakdown of the specific heart rate zones including:
- Intensity rating for each zone
- What time spent in the zone targets physiologically
- How to use time spent in each zone as part of a training plan
A five-zone heart rate training system is used.
For endurance athletes it is recommended that the 80/20 model is followed for intensity distribution. Eighty percent of your training time is spent in zone 2 and 20 percent spent at the higher intensity zones 4 and 5. This training distribution has been shown to be the right mix for athletes to not only lay the groundwork for consistent improvement in performance, but also to keep injury risk low.
Every athlete will have different numbers when it comes to the heart rates zones. These are primarily influenced by age and previous training. Most athletes will also find that the zones are not of equal size in terms of the range that is covered.
Heart Rate Training Zones + VO2
In this example, zone 2 is 120 through 132 bpm, a range of 12 beats. Zone 3 runs from 132 to 149, a range of 17. Simply using an equation to determine training zones is far less accurate. Most of the standard ways to calculate training zones use equal distributions in each zone, which is inaccurate.
The next section of the report is a breakdown of fuel usage that is broken down by zone. The fuel usage section provides the ratio of usage of carbohydrates and fats in each of the zones. When performing exercise, the energy the body is using comes from either one of these fuel sources. Fats provide more energy per molecule but take longer to break down, so they are a better option when working at lower intensities. Utilizing fat is great when the need for energy is not as high and the body has time to deliver the energy. Carbs can be processed either with or without oxygen and occurs faster than fats but produces less energy per molecule. Carbs are better suited for higher intensity effort when the need for energy is high and fast.
Fats versus Carbs
The ratio between fats and carbs should be favored towards fats in zones 1 and 2. Higher zones shift to more carbs as intensity increases to zone 5 where all energy is coming from carbs.
In our example it can be seen in zone 1 the ratio is slightly favored to carbs and then switches in zone 2 to be slightly in favor of fats and then switches back for the remaining zones working to all carbs in zone 5.
Spending more time training in zone 2 will improve the efficiency of using fats as an energy source. This will also allow the sparing of carbs so that they may be used later or during bouts of higher intensity. The body has almost unlimited fat storage whereas carbs that are readily accessible are limited to around 2,000 calories total.
This section also provides the average calories used per minute of activity in each zone. This information is used to calculate how many calories were burned in a workout.
The final section of the report is the VO2 section. This section just provides an age-related comparison for the obtained VO2 peak. VO2 is the peak amount of oxygen that was inhaled during the test divided by bodyweight. This assess the potential to use of oxygen to power the energy systems of the body used during endurance activities. A comparison is provided for age range to understand where the determined VO2 value ranks amongst the general population.
The final section of the report to highlight is the recommendation section for the athlete. Recommendations are provided to improve performance. These are based on the results of the test and the previously discussed goals and training plan of the athlete. The biggest recommendation is to spend more time training in zone 2.
Due to the relative low ratio of fat use to carb use in zone 2, at 56/44, there is not great fat efficiency. This athlete is burning too many carbs and likely missing out of some of the other benefits of consistent zone 2 training. The athlete showed a strong tolerance in zone 4. A high-top end of zone 4 indicates they have a high capacity for lactate shuttling. He should continue higher intensity training a similar level.