Metabolic performance testing: how does it work?

Escrito por: Dr Ralph Rogers
Publicado: | Actualizado: 24/07/2023
Editado por: Nicholas Howley

What is the best way to assess your fitness – and create a training plan personalised to your needs? We spoke to leading sports medicine specialist Dr Ralph Rogers about how metabolic performance testing works and what it can tell you.

What is metabolic performance testing?

Metabolic performance testing is a series of tests that measure your body’s response to exercise. During metabolic performance testing, we aim to measure a range of performance indicators, including:

  • VO2 Max – this is a measure of your body’s maximum ability to consume oxygen. If you can sustain a high level of oxygen intake over time, you can perform well in endurance events.
  • Lactate threshold – high lactate in the blood is a precursor to fatigue. Your lactate threshold is the maximum pace at which you can exercise before your blood lactate levels start to rise. If you can increase your threshold, you can sustain a faster pace when exercising. Your lactate threshold is also known as your functional power,race pace, or maximal lactate steady state.
  • Energy expenditure and substrate utilisation – put simply, it’s important to measure how much energy you’re using and how much of this energy is going into efficient movement. If we identify any areas of inefficiency, we can create a targeted training plan to work on these areas. By measuring your energy expenditure while you carry out different types of exercise, we can also determine your precise nutritional needs.

Who can benefit from metabolic performance testing?

Metabolic performance testing can be beneficial for both athletes aiming to be at the top of their game, and keen enthusiasts looking for evidence-based recommendations on how to improve their fitness. It is also an excellent option if you are aiming to lose weight.

What tests are performed?

Metabolic performance testing involves assessing your running speed on a treadmill or power output when cycling. You will wear an oxygen mask to record the amount of oxygen you breathe in and the carbon dioxide you breathe out. We will increase the speed of the treadmill or bike at regular intervals to test you at different intensities of exercise, until you ask to stop.

Using the latest cardiopulmonary exercise testing equipment (CPEX), we can measure your VO2 max, energy expenditure and lactate threshold in detail.

What happens after the test?

Following the test, we will sit down with you to analyse and explain the results. You should leave the clinic with a targeted training plan that addresses any inefficiencies in your technique, and meets your fitness goals.

Por Dr Ralph Rogers
Medicina del Deporte

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