Lactate Testing - Data and Results

Edit: Anyone with lactate data that wants to share or discuss is welcome to post in this thread!!!

Most of you know what MLSS testing is so won’t clutter with details here. For those not familiar, FasCat Training has a nice post on the topic and web search will turn up numerous articles on the topic.

Background: Myself and several buddies are gearing up for “serious” runs at 40km TT PRs and/or USA Masters National and/or the New Jersey Time Trial Series in 2019. All master’s age athletes age 50 to 75, well trained over several seasons. We are all avid time trialists trying to eek out every fractional gain possible from training and gear.

Because I’m a data dork, decided to invest in a hand held lactate meter to really track my training and offered to do the buddies too. A bunch of us (4-5 total) are going to do MLSS testing at regular intervals this season to see how we do and if having these data helps in a meaningful manner. A side benefit is if you know you are going to test a lot with a peer group you want to do well. A bit of social accountability works wonders.

Today’s Post: I’ve had MLSS and LT tests run before but always as the testee not the tester. To get a feel for running the tests and using the meter prior to conducting runs on my pals, decided to run an MLSS protocol on myself. Not perfect as one needs to pause to take the sample, but might as well make data. Plus, wife wasn’t available.

Method: Created a four step protocol in Trainer Road (search MLSS in the workouts if you want to use it). Ramp warm-up then four ten minute bouts increasing 10w each step. I estimated 230w MLSS for myself and set the interval percentages for 210-220-230 watt steps. A fourth interval of 240w is added just in case I was too pessimistic (answer = nope). At five min spacing I would pause the workout, hop off trainer and do a lactate test. Each test takes about 90s seconds. Went well except for that spot in the middle where TR un-paused which I didn’t notice and also had to repeat the lactate test due to a poor reading.

Conclusion: 230w was a good guess for MLSS. Can see the 7.7 to 8.1 to 9.3 mMol increases. I stretched the 230w level to 15 min to get three time points.

Note: I’ve always been a very high lactate producer so not at all surprised to see 3.5 - 4.0 mMol at baseline. Typically at steady state I get measures around 8 mMol.

Next Steps: Performing MLSS tests on the buddies during the holidays. We are all in BASE mode right now with several guys starting BUILD in January. Of the gang, myself and two others are avid TR users. Another is self coached and another has a TrainingPeaks coach. We’ll repeat the MLSS testing after our respective builds probably toward mid-March and then again in June/July depending on A-Race goals and desire for data.

Season Goals: I’ll be following an 80/20 type plan as discussed in the 80/20 thread. Am looking to perform well in a series of four, perhaps five, 40-50 km individual TTs which will run from late-May to late-July. As I come out of build and get close to first event am planning to do an extended test of 30-40 min at goal race pace to see how the lactate measure work out.

Hoping the image appears and this post is for entertainment purposes only!



Thanks, Mark!

Hey, if any of your buds wants to share their data it would sure be cool to see how their results compare to the pic you posted of your test.

Very cool!

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Awesome! Big thanks to TR users like you and @mcneese.chad who conduct these types of experiments & publish your experience for the rest of us. :+1:


I’ll report data for the other guys as they’ll allow. Can always blind it.

Am looking forward to comparing my 80/20 (modified) compared to very similar rider who is doing TR SST Base then Sustained Build. We both incorporate strength work for overall health. This will be his second season using TR program as Chad plans it.

Baseline MLSS testing for the other guys will be last two weeks of December. Look for a post right around New Year’s


Any info on the make, model, cost, etc?

Doughnut asked: Make, model, cost?

Lactate Plus meter. The other easy to find unit was the Lactate Scout. Have coaching friends with both so it was a coin toss.

Total expense for the test unit, 100 test strips, high and low control solutions, single use lancets in 28 and 26 guage, gloves, alcohol wipes total was just over $500.

The test strips are in the range of $2 each. The rest of the stuff is not expensive so total per measurement excluding the device is about $2.25. Figure 6-10 test strips per person per test depending on how many sticks and which type of test you are running and the disposables cost about $20 per test session.

Cost for a lactate threshold test or MLSS seems to run between $75 and $150. Told the guys to cover the disposables cost for each session and I’ll take tips in beer and pizza :-]

This is obviously total geekery but we’ll have some fun with it.



UPDATE - January Testing

Earlier this month I tested three lab rats. Errr, I mean friends and teammates. A fourth was meant to participate but is a doc and unfortunately had a patient emergency and had to miss his appointment.

Subjects were all Male aged 50, 55 and 70. All very well trained with a primary focus on time trials. All are currently in “base” training mode as we’re located in the USA Mid-Atlantic region (aka New Jersey).

I won’t show individual data here but will do after repeat testing. We’ve scheduled for late February just before the gang will start Build phase of training. Once we do that I’ll put up Test 1 and Test 2 results for each rider (and myself). We’ll do another run of MLSS for each rider as they peak for their A events. Which for most is a 40km TT June/July time frame.

Some take homes:

  • It was the first time doing MLSS test protocol for all three and the learnings were interesting. I had peppered the guys with information of what, when, how and why. But they didn’t really read any of it and were somewhat unprepared. That’s OK, I kept them on track with the protocol.

  • All three drastically underestimated their current MLSS / FTP and wanted to start too low in terms of wattage for the first ten minute bout. I had anticipated that and programed in extra levels. I let the first two guys self select starting wattage. But for the third (whom I know extremely well) I choose his starting level.

Result was we gained very useful information but the tests were not perfect according to protocol.

Rider #1 Drastically underestimated his MLSS / FTP. I know his coach well and we discussed this. It’s all mental. In the end this rider did a great test ride and after three “too low” levels we nailed his MLSS at 255w. He actually rode an additional 20-25 minutes which was a serious performance. He left feeling great about his fitness, potential and with a bumped up FTP for the remaining base period.

Rider #2 is a great friend. He struggled with the test. He was reporting RPE of 7 and 8 at levels far below his LT, MLSS, FTP. Again mental mid-winter issues. We eventually nailed his MLSS and (subject to repeat testing) suspect that he has been underperforming his potential. So he doesn’t need more fitness, he needs to be able to ride for longer periods at FTP or just below. I think the biophysical data will help him bust through to a new level of performance next season. Not by shaping training but by giving him confidence in what he CAN accomplish.

Rider #3 is a very solid and very tuned in rider. We nailed his MLSS at level 2. At level 3 he exploded with lactate going up 2+ mMol from 4min to 7 min. He couldn’t make the 9 min cutoff point. Basically for this rider we tested at 300w and he was solid. at 310 we started to see an inflection but he was at steady state (just). At 320 he popped and lactate went up. Reviewing his training and race results he agrees that 305 - 310 he can hold, 315 is hard, 320+ is really hard and he can’t hold 320+ for more than 5-8 min. He did a solid test and went away feeling good about his data and fitness.

Why do people underestimate? I believe this is simple - your MLSS doesn’t change much during the year. What changes is your mental ability to tolerate riding at MLSS / FTP. There is likely a big take home in there about what training BASE - BUILD - SPECIALITY is really doing. For well trained and experienced athletes (self included) it’s a lot more mental than physical. YMMV and you may disagree.

  • Doing MLSS testing with a group is a good thing. It’s uncomfortable to test but it is very hard to give up when surrounded by friends encouraging you.

  • The data is useful in ways I didn’t expect and in teaching athletes about what is really going on. FTP testing is great but you can’t fake biochemistry.

  • Of course LT, MLSS, etc are only factors in performance. There are other variables. But I believe this is helpful in guiding training.

Since I also tested myself should note that I also started too low. So I’m not picking on the guys. My next test will be 225-235-245. I’m 99% certain my true MLSS is 235w so this should nail it.

In future tests, once MLSS is nailed, I want to investigate doing longer time periods at, or just below or just above MLSS. Reason being that 40km is one thing but we also race shorter distances where RPE is probably more important than MLSS. Maybe.

Eventually, I’m wondering if I can combine an MLSS / LT / RPE model with something like Best Bike Split to fully optimize a 40km race. Will expound further on that when (or if) the idea comes more fully into focus.

Will be back in about 8 weeks with the interesting Test 1 and Test 2 data and comparisons. Until then happy winter for folks in my hemisphere and enjoy your pain caves!!!



This is brilliant. Many thanks for sharing.

Sounds a very interesting experiment. Well documented as well
Thanks for sharing

Results from my second self-administered MLSS test. Hopping off bike, pausing TR, lactate sample, hop back on. That is why the heart rate trace has the dips.

Overall am content. For various reasons this season is not going to have a major race focus. Instead of Base - Build - Specialty progression, am extending strength work in the gym and running a cycling program consisting of two hard workouts during the week (one VO2max and one SST/Threshold) plus two longer rides on the weekend. Works out to be about 4-6 rides per week and 3-4 gym sessions.

References: My historic max HR is low 170s and CP20 generally tops out around 260w at peak fitness. For 40km TTs, 235 watts +/- are my best efforts. I have always been a high lactate producer so when looking at those numbers don’t freak out :slight_smile:

Training excuses aside, on bike fitness is creeping up and this test supports that. Riding at 220w was fine so surprised to see the 9-min time point pop up (red). Not worried about it. 230w was fine too and less than 1 mMol change so steady state. 240w level pops up into the 15 mMol range but still not getting the big inflection from 4 min to 9 min time point. I was working hard at 240w today. Heart rate 165+ reflects that. When seeing 165+ am working hard.

What I’m seeing from these tests are (1) improving fitness, slowly as expected for the program I’m running and (2) with proper planning an focus an FTP over 240 w seems reachable.

My next test in June and next post to the forum will update on the laboratory rats. Errrr, test subjects.

An aside: For next season we’re going to start off in the fall with a LT test and then plan out a series of MLSS tests for myself and the guys. We’re having a lot of fun doing this and learning about the physiology.



Doesn’t getting off the bike to test mess up the 4/9 minute testing intervals a bit by allowing your lactate levels to drop? Also really surprised to see your MLSS is ~15mmol/L. If I was testing and saw my lactate levels jump from 5mmol/L to 8mmol/L at 220W I would assume I’ve already passed my threshold power.

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Yep. Seems like an increase of 3mmol means you’ve already passed MLSS.

“In other words, the MLSS occurs at the greatest power output that does not elicit a greater than 1mMol rise in blood lactate concentration between the 4 and 10 minute samples for each stage/workload.”


Quick reply as I’m remote. First, hope you guys are enjoying these reports. Second, the ten minute protocol for MLSS has an important flaw in that it can take longer than ten minutes to reach steady state.

So these tests using the ten minute protocol are fun and guiding but are leading up to a longer and more focused set of tests to nail it.

Here is an interesting paper and figure to illustrate.

In retrospect, I went into this to learn more about lactate, training and pacing for 40km TTs. Experiment on myself so nobody gets hurt or misled. Became fun that a few buddies also jumped in.

Hindsight… Starting with ten min MLSS probably wasn’t the best idea. Looking forward I’m gong to try and nail my vt1, by 2 and MLSS and use that to shape training. Will also share my ftp tests.

Blogging here as TR people are kinda Data nuts and perhaps someone sees something they can use.



Been quiet on this thread as we entered race season and I couldn’t get the guys back in the laboratory.

Looking forward to running some 30 min MLSS tests on myself and a couple of the guys toward end of September. I did regular ramp tests on the trainer and outdoor 20 min efforts. Consistently hitting 230w FTP estimates which are consistent with the MLSS results.

I spent some time working on short power and was able to approach my historic maximums for sprint through 5 min (1000 w for sprint and 300w for 5 min). It was helpful for the type of riding I’ve been doing to increase those power numbers vs a strict focus on 20-60 min diesel power (time trials).

It all came together nicely. Looking into 2020 season will be working on keeping the short power up and building increased durability. Focus on pushing that FTP estimate from 230 back to 240+ and will report in what the lactate measures look like.



Body Composition Testing - BOD POD 2019

Once a year for the last 9 years I’ve taken advantage of access to a Bod Pod unit to hop in and get some numbers. Basically age 43 to 52. It would be nice to have multiple data points per year but c’est la vie. Thought some of you data geeks might be interested.

During this time period I have done a few different experiments trying to become a faster bike racer. The first was to see if weight loss would matter. Over a period of time starting before the BOD POD numbers I went from about 145 down to 130. Actually hit 127 for a very brief period of time. Dropping the first 1/2 of that amount was not hard but required attention to eating. Dropping the second 1/2 was probably not healthy and required some draconian measures. When friends who are also oncologists started asking if I was OK and my Mom said I was too skinny, I decided the experiment had run it’s course.

Over that time I carefully tracked power to weight and was following a structured coaching plan. I maxed out about 4.3 - 4.4 w/kg. At the time, and in retrospect, I was fastest fast about 133-135 pounds. The 130 range was too light and I was losing power and recovering slowly from big days. I’m 5’7" so not a large human.

Somewhere around 2016 I lost fixation with being light and started to become concerned with getting older and losing muscle and possibly bone mass. See the chart for Fat Free Weight dropping from 121-122 down to 115. Also noticed that lifting things was becoming more difficult and this was a wake up call.

I drive a desk for a living and also travel quite a bit for work but it became clear that adding strength training was going to be critical. Started slow with a decent program focused on upper body and core. Have stuck with it progressing from pathetic to not so bad. Since there is only one lift that matters, can now bench 185# (how much ya bench bro??? LoL).

In August of 2018 I had a slow speed fall on the mountain bike which unfortunately cracked a couple ribs. Missed the Bod Pod trip (no data for 2018) and full recovery took a four-plus months. Had some complications that aren’t worth discussing. Just bad luck all around.

As soon as I could, got back on the bike just spinning on trainer (about 4-5 weeks) but the gym work took a hit. It was Nov/Dec 2018 before I could train again. Decided to take the 2019 season off from racing and just get fit again.

Several things:

Added leg days to upper body days in the gym. Squats and Deads. And I love doing that so its addictive. I squat 200+ and deadlift is approaching 300. Slowly…

On bike had been all about time trialing for almost ten years. My short power was way down from historic highs in the 2008 time frame. I used Trainer Road SIT workouts and Short Power Build plan to rebuild that. Am not at all time highs but am within 2-5%. Which isn’t bad considering 10+ years older.

Current power numbers with historic max in ()

Max 970 (1050)
1 min 500 (530)
5 min 300 (330)
20 min 245 (265)
Hour - not tested in 2019

I shifted outdoor bike time significantly from Road to Mountain. Because FUN.

Work has become much more intense last 18 months and is demanding more late nights and while great fun, is wreaking havoc on workout compliance.

Present Day:

LEAN MASS - I’m sharing the BOD POD results just for fun, but am fairly happy with the results of the last year. Yes I gained some fat but am still healthy and moderately lean. Importantly, I’ve reversed the Fat Free Weight decline (approx 3 pounds in good direction) and that was a HUGE objective. The next 12 months will work hard to keep that going in the right direction.

WEGIHT - 144 pounds and 18% BF is a bit higher than I like. Will be looking to get that down to the 138-140 and 14-16% range. But even if I keep same weight and add on some muscle will be happy.

BIKE - While short power is up, I’ve lost a bit of durability and aerobic. Also a fraction off my FTP (MLSS is 235 and I can’t do that for abhor right now) and a fraction off 20 min max power (245 vs 255-260).

2020 Season

Am planning to work on all the above.

Bike – Doing as much long day riding as I can fit in around the gym. Long weekend rides and 1-2 “hard” workouts per week to keep as much fitness as possible. Basically a polarized or fast over 50 approach. This stuff works so just a matter of doing it. Have not decided on race goals for 2020 but likely 6-8 of my favorite TTs and some XC mountain stuff. I might try and enduro or two but kinda scared of pushing it and breaking more bones.

Strength - I’d love to put up a two plate bench (225) but that is a long way from my current 1RM of 185. Will see if I can add to the 185 and be happy. Squat target is 225 for reps and Deadlift 300+ I take this stuff very slowly and work on form all the time. I won’t progress much higher than these numbers after I hit them as strong enough is strong enough.

KITCHEN - We all know the kitchen is where the action is for body composition. I can eat a bit better and that should help. Its just a matter of will power.

Below are the graphs. I make no claim to living life or training or eating better or worse than the next guy. Hope folks find this stuff entertaining and maybe useful for their own journey!




Hey, so I also just got myself a lactate plus. I did a trial run on myself the other week and figured out some things I need to do better to do a proper test. I think the 10 minute tests may be fine, as long as you start out lower than expected and don’t go to baseline between 10 minute efforts. I think the goal for the 4 and 10 tests is to try at 2-3 different levels, so the first one should clearly be easy enough, and should get your lactate levels to close to MLSS, Then the second and third tests should be able to reach equilibrium in enough time.

I did 5 minute ramps as a scan to see where my lactate was at different power efforts. The inscyd method would have any of those 5 minute tests, repeat testing after 1 minute and if lactate drops, you were in equilibrium. Mind you, this has not been true for me in the past when I did a 20s maximal test to determine VLamax, the T0 blood draw was the highest reading on one of the times I went in (but it was also consistent with the other readings in the rate it increased.

Next week, I’m going to try some of the longer sets, doing the intermediate measurements along the way to confirm, as the power I have set in TR for my workouts, did not have my lactate increasing past the initial reading, which was about 9 mmol. As an analytical chemist, these handheld meters can be a bit frustrating, as the standard deviation is about 0.5 mmol, so we use 2 standard deviations apart from two populations as a requirement to say that they are different. In reality, the meter is not precise enough to detect a 1 mmol difference, due to the overlap of the 2SD from each measurement. 2 mmol is probably the smallest difference that is reliably different from another reading unless you’re doing triplicate readings at each point which could get very expensive, but not that unheard of if you’re trying to nail your response. At best these will be ballpark readings, and best for general trends, the field test/TT results are the true results which are going to be more reliable.

For TT efforts, it may be beneficial to you to lower your anaerobic ability, as Sebastian Weber explains, FTP is a function of VO2 max and VLamax. To get your MLSS closer to VO2 max, your VLamax needs to be lower. Your VLamax looks relatively high, as seen by the mmol you have during MLSS, so that is a decent low hanging fruit, especially if you’re a masters athlete and moving the VO2 needle gets harder and harder. It all depends on your overall goals though, and whether or not you want to give up some of the other aspects of your overall fitness to get better at a steady state effort.

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Bio - I agree - good stuff and thanks for posting. Do share your testing experiences as they come!

The meters are definitely inexpensive tools compared to what we have access to in the lab (I’m a molecular biologist). But for a couple bucks per test point what the heck its fun :-]

If I get back to a full on focus for TT’s, particularly 40km, the VLamax optimization is key. I probably won’t do that until I retire though. A few years at the earliest.

For now I’ve been focused on short power as that helps when mountain biking with buddies. 30-60 min “durability” definitely took a hit but having higher short term numbers has made the trail riding more fun. I need to start doing more 3-4 hour rides and longer SST intervals to build back the durability. Hard to fit everything in (excuses)

The MLSS stuff - to really nail it the ten min tests aren’t enough. They are economic and single session tests so can see why people do them. I’m meaning to do some 30 min tests and frankly the only thing stopping me is doing 235 watts for 30 min is not going to be fun. Need to suck it up and just do it.


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So I did a longer test after my season was done. It might have been slightly skewed since I had not really ridden much for the week prior due to having a cold, but I’m almost thinking that the effects on that were less of where MLSS occurred, and more for how hard it actually felt at that intensity.

Anyway, did a longer test at slightly lower than my set FTP, measuring in 5 minute intervals. I did not reach equilibrium until the 3rd and 4th readings finally reaching an equilibrium at ~8 mmol. Now that I’ve seen a different source on how to interpret my first ramping test, I think they are both saying that 295 (my setting) was too high. The first time I did the ramp I wasn’t as used to lancing myself so probably wasn’t getting good samples and my baseline was a bit funky. The way I was feeling on that day though I"m not even sure I could have lasted much longer than 30 minutes if it was a continuous effort.

I’m curious now with Weber’s assertion that high Vlamax lowers FTP. Does it lower MLSS, or is it that MLSS is at a higher lactate level that TTE is reduced, thus a true 1 hour power is a percentage of MLSS.

Were you doing your 4x8’s with short rest?


[quote=“Bioteknik, post:18, topic:6484, full:true”]
(snip) but I’m almost thinking that the effects on that were less of where MLSS occurred, and more for how hard it actually felt at that intensity. [/quote]

This is exactly my experience and that of my test subjects.

Its not that MLSS moves around a tremendous amount (once well trained - many years - FTP well established), but how hard it feels to pedal at that level. Pushing pedals at MLSS / FTP for longer periods of time is NOT easy.

I think folks forget that riding at MLSS for long durations is bloody hard both physically and mentally. It hurts the legs and the brain!!! If we hypothesize that many FTP estimate protocols (ramp, 8 min, 20 min) overestimate FTP, it is no surprise at all how many riders simply cannot consistently and repeatedly ride at their “FTP” for more than 10-15 minutes.

Takes a bit of practice to get the hop-off, lance-self, take sample, record readings thing down. No matter how quick you are it’s also a micro-rest and heart rate recovers fast in well trained people. But I think it’s still good information as long as one is consistent and not taking too long a pause to get the data.

I have to get back and do my 30 min MLSS. Been putting it off… will probably recruit the wife to do the sticks and readings. Should do a good LT test soon too just to have the record.

Let me know if you figure that one out!!!

FWIW… historically, my best 40km TTs, about an hour, came in with average power +/- 5 watts of where my current MLSS estimate sits (235-240 watts). I did one MLSS test during the period when I had those nice 40km efforts and MLSS was right in that 235-240 zone.

So, with potential to be wrong, and lacking a truly robust longitudinal data set, it seems to me that my MLSS doesn’t move that much. Rather, my ability to actually pedal at that level for long periods does.

As above, can’t tell how much of that is training, getting used to the effort level (hurting) and how much of that is physical v mental.

Conversely, I demonstrated to myself that as expected, short term power (max sprint to 5 min) is highly trainable and reacts well to a training block. Since I wasn’t doing TTs this year decided to do some short power training. That stuff works. I set an all time 3 second power (well, all time since recording power data a decade or so ago) and brought 1 min and 5 min power back to historic peak levels. That was satisfying and fun. It’s much more fun to do short puke in the bucket stuff on a trainer than long slogs at 90%. Also, huge fan of TR Short Power Build!!!

Indoors, and have yet to get a full set in on the trainer at 105%, was trying for 2:1 (8 min work, 4 min rest). 5x5 indoors was no problem at 105-110% with (5 on / 5 off).

Outdoors where I’ve nailed 4x8 couple times and felt great, was closer to 1:1 (8 min on and 8 min recovery). Due to the roads and the hill and/or circuit course I was using, 1:1 was what the recovery worked out to be. Also hit over 110% for those as opposed to the 105% I was going for indoors. 110-115% just felt right outside.

All together, fairly certain I could do 4x8 105% 2:1 outdoors. It wouldn’t be easy but doable.

Am now in a base/strength phase of training so not hitting 5x5 or 4x8. When I get back to them indoors will start at 1:1 and try to improve from there. Planning to get back into the TT scene in 2020 so will need to get my suffer genes reactivated.

Hope some of that was useful or interesting


(p.s. I don’t actually puke in the bucket. Come close a couple times but that stuff is not necessary at this point in my weekend warrior bike life)

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What a difference 1 month of easy work will do for your lactate curve…

Of the first few tests I’ve done last year… my baseline was roughly 1.5-1.7ish mmol, and I did a new lactate profile to start out SSB1. My attempt is to shift the curve downwards, and if it goes to the right at all, that will be a bonus. Since most people don’t really see FTP improvements with SSB1, I’m going to be happy if I can hold my FTP while dropping a bit of weight. This time through most of the warmup/easier steps I was at the traditional 1 mmol, and 2 mmol was at 80%. So for AeT rides, keep HR below 72%

Ride is here:

Graph of the data is here:

I think the inflection points are easier to see since I took more measurements. Of course that means I had to lance myself 11 times. The full profile in the created workout has me finishing with a 5 min max (set to 120%) but the 110% block clearly showed the 2nd inflection point. Bad thing about this created workout is it could underestimate your MLSS, but it will clearly show if you have it too high. My first profile had some bad points in it, but I think it did show me that 295 was no longer linear and above the inflection point, so at that point I dropped my setting (and then had a week off of everything after the race season was over and I caught a bit of a cold and dropped it again). Now I just had a week of vacation so I had bumped it down 5 watts again, looks pretty spot on now. Hopefully this means I won’t overshoot… estimating increases means I can just increase workout intensity by x% (I’m guessing usually 2-3% but curious to see)

I plan on doing a cycling profile every 6-8 weeks. Next goal is to find AeT for my run, might have to use a treadmill for that one and use a different finger for the sampling!