INSCYD or Local University Lab Testing?

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking about this so I wanted some opinions on whether or not to go for the INSCYD test which would just be on the road testing (no blood drawn) sent over to Mikael at Scientific Triathlon or to undertake lab testing at my local university (the pretty well respected Loughborough University here in the UK).

This is the testing done at the Uni: http://www.loughborough-sports-science.com/cycling-fitness.html

Prices are pretty much the same for the INSCYD (200 euro) and the lab test. I’ve spoken on email to Mikael (whom I do resonate with) and believe there is much benefit to going with INSCYD but I’m also confident in the abilities of the University to tell me the metrics I am interested in and how to adapt my training to meet my goals. What they won’t look at is VLaMax and if this is a metric to really push my training then I feel like I might be missing out, or another way, not getting ahead of the game.

My main goals are to be somewhat of an all rounder through the spring / summer (road racing, fast group rides etc) but then in the autumn (Sept and October) to be in shape for the hill climb season (90s - to 10 minute efforts). It’d be good to know how my physiology looks right now.

Part of me is just curious to do the lab testing, I did this about 6 months into my cycling journey (just over 6 years ago) because it was something I was interested in. I had a VO2max of 63.4 at that point after basically no training so comparing it again would be fun! What does intrigue me about the INSCYD is that I would be using my bike and my power meter so consistency is an added value there.

Lot’s of great contributors on this forum, hopefully your insight will steer me in the right direction.

Why don’t you ask if they do some lactate testing before and after a Wingate 30 seconds test. This will give you VLaMax. It should be around 3 to 5 lactate samples and around 20 minutes time. This test is lesser effort than the lactate threshold test…

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Interesting! I guess I could ask, thanks.

My experience with recent INSCYD:

Pros:

  1. much faster, easier, less invasive
  2. gave me nutrition/fueling data that I would not have gotten from traditional lab testing
  3. didn’t need to travel
  4. no needles, masks, etc
  5. can repeat protocol if you (for example) didn’t quite get the sprint right
  6. I’ve nearly forgotten how to spell FTP. I have what I consider more “realistic” training zones. And they are much simpler to use in training.

Cons:

  1. not sure what to do after a block of training. I’m not going to pay another fee to do the testing again (at least for awhile) to see if I improved. Not sure you are supposed to anyway. Also, I don’t really feel the need to obsess about FTP any more (good), but how do I measure regular progress?
  2. had to just guess my body composition
  3. most places will give you cursory training advice but you’ll have to handle getting really detailed training direction separately.

Also, there are some threads where ppl are trying to reverse-engineer the VLamax calculation, but that calculation didn’t work for my actual numbers. :man_shrugging:

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Can you elaborate on what this looks like?

There is an interesting approach coming from the muscle oxygen sensors with four training zones

They state that training only makes sense at the edge of these zones. Otherwise they consider it wasted energy (No man’s land)

If you are just interested in training zones then a Humon Hex might be an interesting approach for $299.-/€299.- instead of performance test.

@stevemz At intensities above threshold, INSCYD zones aren’t too far off from what the iLevels concept is trying to achieve. So in that sense (even though there are fewer INSCYD zones), it’s personalized in a way that acknowledges rider variability above threshold. For the type of riding I do, I actually care about that the least, but it’s good to see two different approaches coming to the same conclusion.

I’m mainly talking about the threshold range itself, and to a lesser extent simplifying sub-threshold training zones (there are basically two usable zones when you see that FatMax and Base largely overlap. The other is Medio). So it’s medio/mid or base/FatMax. They do largely overlap with Coggan zones, but in a more simplified way.

The part that I think is more “realistic” is that threshold isn’t a discrete number. It’s a range and it’s rather wide (my is a 40W spread and like others, is lower than all FTP tests I’ve done). I realize that Coggan et al. understand that threshold is not a discrete number either (it’s correlative to all the “dotted lines”, where “dotted lines” are all the ways MLSS or lactate threshold, etc. are measured), but in a effort to simplify threshold to a discrete number you have made things more confusing, or perhaps unintentially misled. All of that is debatable and has been discussed (to death) elsewhere. But if you give me a range, I’m much less inclined to overthink. I’m much less inclined to debate about raising it 2% because I had few good workouts (or vice versa).

I like the simplicity and freedom of saying: “look, it’s a range, it’s wider than you think because, well, that’s how it actually works, and here it is based on our math”. So now you’ve got three: base, mid, and threshold (all about 40W wide).

I know it’s hyped right now and marketing, but I’m drinking the kool-aid here:

Might seem ironic at first, but in order to track progress (see “con” above), I anticipate using WKO4 metrics even more now, just not FTP.

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Interesting! I’ll have to read a bit more about it.

Thanks for sharing.

hmm, you lost me, still not sure I understand your “more realistic” comment as my TR threshold is a range and not a discrete number.

And I see that some of TR sweet spot is classic Coggan threshold. At my current TR estimated ftp of 233, my Coggan threshold range is 37W (TR threshold, plus SS > 90%).

@bbarrera I’m pretty sure I didn’t lose you. You figured it out already. Nice work.

Go with whichever will lead to the most prescriptive training routine to allow you to accomplish your goals.

In reading through the INSCYD posts on this forum where Mikael has commented, I think he’d likely be able to give good training recommendations based on your INSCYD results and goals.

I learned a ton from the INSCYD posts and website, and have used that to guide my training (I didn’t do an INSCYD test, but I can guess my profile based on my athletic history and current/recent performance).

It’s great to have clarity and confidence that you are on the right training plan.

For me it’s reduce VLaMax, improve FatMax, and increase VO2 max in that order (roughly, first two are probably tied).

Using a pyramid training distribution of endurance, SS/threshold and VO2max.

I don’t know what training advice you’d get from the lab, but worth having an expectation that it would be something similar to INSCYD/Mikael to be Even worth considering.

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