Hey - just wanted to jump back onto this topic as I think there are a few wrong ideas around about VLamax on the one hand and INSCYD and what it does on the other. Important disclaimer upfront: I am a coach and use INSCYD as one of the tools to work with the athletes I coach.
Is VLamax the “secret sauce” or the “magic” that it is made out to be in some circles, certainly outside of high-performance sports? Probably not.
Are the insights gained from INSCYD (I don’t know the competitor software) a useful tool in your training arsenal, considering the cost ($200-500/test, depending on where you live and the protocol)? I think so and there are a number of reasons for that.
Through VLamax (whatever the usefulness of the knowledge of the actual value is beyond phenotyping) you can cross the proverbial bridge from the aerobic (VO2max) to the anaerobic and metabolic (VLamax), specifically via the glycolytic metabolism. This allows INSCYD to translate your power profile to metabolic requirements, specifically carb consumption (via lactate) vs fat consumption (via body composition). For example, the “FatMax zone” mentioned earlier in the thread is nothing else than the power levels where the energy contribution from fat (in calories) is the highest. It’s not a training zone per se (though some coaches use it).
INSCYD does not prescribe any training zones or training plans or a new way to measure FTP. In that sense, all it does is map power profile to metabolic requirements. That’s literally all it does. Of course, through VLamax and VO2max, MLSS (anaerobic threshold) follows deterministically. We can debate wether MLSS is better or worse of a measure than FTP and it may or may not be interesting for you, but to me personally it was good to know that after 5 years of very heavy sprint/anaerobic/vo2max training combined with very low intensity training (avoiding the term “polarized”, not to add even more fuel to the fire), my MLSS and FTP (via TR ramp test and/or AI detection) have deviated by ca 40W. This is important to me, as I have changed my own athletic goals for this year back towards more of a low VLamax/endurance type athlete (current VLamax 0.7). Without that knowledge, I would have continued on, thinking I’m a 330W guy for a 5-6 hour race, whereas in reality I’m more like a 290W kinda guy. No FTP test would have given me that info (well apart from a 1h FTP-like effort, urgh).
I believe the actual energy requirements that INSCYD provides, specific to your own physiology, for certain types of training and/or racing are very useful, e.g. how many grams of carbs per hour for which effort levels vs how much muscle glycogen you carry. I think that info is very actionable and relates directly to what you and I do on the bike (ie. fuelling, how much and when etc). So far I wasn’t aware of other tools that give you that info on such a personalised level.
Of course, the elephants in the room are the measurements and the validity of the calculations. As with any method, it’s a bit of a “garbage in/out” situation. The purely power-based protocol is very similar to other power duration tests (e.g. Wahoo 4DP) but are obviously subject to execution risk, the same as any lactate test that can be botched by a single drop of sweat or contamination. In that sense, I prefer the power profile as it’s very repeatable, relatively flexible and obviously lower cost than a full lab test (where I live, a remote test is $150-200/test vs $500/600 upwards for labs). You can also go to a lab and complete a lactate based protocol and spiro, too, if that’s your jam. Is the extra burden of the lab or and finger pricks worth it? I don’t know. What are the other inputs? Body weight and an estimate of body composition. Again, the better those values are, the closer the outputs are going to be to reality. If you really know what you are doing, you could amend most of the parameters yourself (or your coach can).
In that sense, the only thing “secret” about INSCYD is that the calculations underlying the outputs are proprietary and closed source. The actual science around it is most definitely not.
So taking @Rad-ler 's points:
- VLaMax is hard to determine outside the lab [it’s very hard to determine in the lab too]
- It is rather an indirect marker [correct in that lactate is a byproduct of your glycolytic/anaerobic metabolism]
- They try to build a system beside the „FTP system“ and proactively say that their system is better and does not rely on FTP [One of their outputs is MLSS/anaerobic threshold, hardly novel, debatable if it’s better or worse than other methods/systems]
- High VLaMax → sprinter, low VLaMax → Diesel - the same can be determined by the power duration curve [agreed to some extent]
- They use different terminology with doubtful descriptions of physiology [no]
- In the end they prescribe just „regular“ training [no, they don’t prescribe training. Well, INSCYD doesn’t]
- Anything else to debunk this topic? [as with anything, you need to decide how useful the insights I describe above are to you and your training/goals. You most definitely don’t need it, the same way as you don’t need a power meter or a heart rate monitor]