Today was the "mass testing" day of my new pilot group at LFT. We were each assigned a time to be at the club for resting metabolism and heart rate testing. There were eight of us to be tested in all so it promised to be a day of waiting around and I was not disappointed. The very first appointment got off to a late start and then everything just fell behind from there. It actually worked out in my favor as I was able to watch the last bit of the Federer-Nadal match while I was waiting this morning. A few of the tests took longer than expected and before you know it everything is about an hour off schedule. We were supposed to be out of there by 1:00 and ended up getting done around 3:00. The trainers who designed this program are doing this on their own without compensation so they certainly put in their volunteer work today!
First up was the resting metabolism test. Basically, you fast for 12 hours and then sit in a chair with some sort of breathing apparatus attached for about 10 minutes. Some sort of scientific stuff takes place with your breathing and the computer determines your resting heart rate as well as the amount of calories you need to just survive each day (not including any sort of exercise or calorie burn from sitting at a desk).
My resting heart rate is 53.
My calorie burn is 1526 before exercise. This varies greatly from person to person. One person in the group has a calorie burn of 911 and some men in the group had calorie burns of 2500+.
The idea behind knowing your resting metabolism is that it is easier to figure out how many calories you need to achieve your goals. If a pound is 3500 calories, you can factor in your calorie burn through exercise and come up with a very close estimate at what you need to eat to lose (or gain) weight.
The second part of the testing today was cardio testing. You wear the same sort of breathing apparatus and go through testing on a treadmill while hooked up to a PC. You are gradually taken either faster or at a higher incline until you achieve a certain quotient in the program. Based on what your heart rate is when you hit certain target quotients gives you your heart rate zones. During this whole process, the volume of oxygen you absorb per minute and recovery heart rate are also measured. You have all probably seen the heart rate charts in the gym but these are based on your own individual abilities which, in my experience, can vary greatly from the heart rate zones for your age group. The test is over once you hit AT which is right on the edge of zone 4 in your heart rate range. At this point in the testing, some people have lost the will to live because you feel like you can't go another step.
Once you finish the test, you get a print out of your heart rate zones and in which zones you are currently most efficient in burning fat. The ideal scenario would be that you burn 50% fat/50% sugar/carbs in zones 1 & 2 and 30% fat/70% carbs/sugar in zone 3. Once you get past AT, you are pretty much just burning sugar. thus the premise of the whole program is training your body to be the most efficient in zones 1 through 3 to maximize fat burning which ultimately should make you faster without feeling like you are expending as much energy. Maybe I am a geek but it sounds cool to me...
My results were:
Zone 1: 124 - 134 bpm (base heart rate is 134 - this is where I am most efficient at fat burning - 49%)
Zone 2: 134 - 148 bpm (currently burning 35% fat in zone 2; ideal is 50%)
Zone 3: 148 - 162 bpm (currently burning 20% fat in zone 3; ideal is 30%)
Threshold: 162 bpm (the point at which I stop burning fat and just burn carbs)
VO2 (Volume of Oxygen absorbed): Peak is 40.9 ml/kg/min; threshold is 39.7 ml/kg/min (the closer the peak and threshold are is an indicator of fitness - woo hoo!). In my age group (40-49 - ha!) I am in the 90% percentile compared to others my age and gender. Your body needs oxygen to burn fat so apparently I have things covered from this end.
Recovery heart rate: Starting 151; after 1 min 115 (-36); after 2 min 101 (-50). I recover pretty quickly so that was not a surprise to me. The ideals are -20 or more after 1 minute and -40 or more after 2 minutes.
Well, that is just all scientifically interesting so now what, you ask? Based on my heart rate and where I am most efficient (which is zone 1/2), I have a series of workouts to do three times a week for the next eight weeks to try and maximize my fat burning in zones 2 and 3 to improve my overall fitness foundation which will improve my threshold, endurance, speed, and you get the picture... The workouts are basically spending certain amounts of time in zone 2 or 3 or whichever zone you are focusing on. Somes days you might spend an hour doing 2 minutes in zone 2, 2 in 3 and 1 in 4 or just a flat 60 minutes staying in zone 2.
The bonus to these workouts is that it is going to force me into a day or two of 2-a-day workouts so I can get used to the idea before I dive into training for the Ironman in May which will involve several 2-a-day scenarios. Tomorrow will be my first official "double".
I am pretty excited to give it a try. The two trainers in the group and my other teammates are very enthusiastic as well. There are a variety of incentive prizes at the end of the 2 months odyssey so I am hoping I can hang on and earn some free personal training, massages, or some of the other treats! I am all about the cardio side; the nutrition is my achilles heel so say a little prayer for me :)