Metabolic (VO2max, Threshold, Efficiency, etc.) Testing for Cyclists/Triathletes

Hey All,

I’m curious about everyone’s history with any sort of metabolic testing they have had done. In listening to the backlog of podcasts I just listened to the episodes where they did their efficiency, vo2max, RMR, etc. testing and wondered who else out there has had any of these done.

I have a lot of experience with both administering and undergoing VO2max tests for runners, but was curious if any cyclists/triathletes out there have tested and got any actionable items from it, or if it really just is more of a curiousity thing.

I, for one, am a geek about this kind of stuff (and hope at least one other person is as well…), so feel free to post about methods, protocols, results, anything you want to discuss.

Haven’t done it myself but a former colleague had a vo2 test done a few years ago which included substrate analysis. He discovered that even at very low levels of intensity he was almost burning sugar almost exclusively, and very little fat

He had done almost exclusively high internsity training for year, he had to do a load of base training in order to reestablish fat burning.

I did both a resting and exercise metabolic test last fall. The intent was to dial in macronutrient timing and develop a meal plan. I honestly just lost interest as my career and family obligations made a meal plan (while awesome) not realistic.

If I had the money and time I would have worked with the nutritionist and the coach to implement and use the data going forward. But, even for me the price was way too steep. Cycling coaching was $500/month with the coach who did my testing or $250/month for someone I don’t know. The metabolic health coach/nutritionist was another $250/month.

I am left with a known BMR, AT, LT and VO2max HR’s, % of VO2max, respiratory rates, RER at VO2max, a relative and absolute value, HR zones and a lot of data on fat cal/hr and carb cal/hr at HR and respiratory rates. Since I can’t find the raw data and train only with power most of this is sort of nice to know. In reality it (the results of the testing) don’t enter my mind especially now that I’m doing ramp test here (TR) and structuring zones based on that. If anything I am doubting what I’m doing. I feel like I am going too hard as the power numbers in the metabolic test associated with AT, LT and VO2max are much lower than TR values.

Was he able to change that distribution at all? As in, was he actually able to get faster or be a better athlete from it?

@Landis any chance that you have made progress since last fall that would impact your AT, LT, and (I assume you mean) power at VO2max?
All three of those are much more susceptible to training than something like VO2max itself.

It’s early but, since I started TR early Nov with mid general build my fitness is going in a good direction compared to what I’ve historically done each season over the last decade or so. Since I only use power I’m making some assumptions but, power is up at AT and LT and the jury is still out on my 6 min power (just have not done an all out 6 minute effort yet). I wish I had some data on what HR is doing! I can positively say that I am responding to the quality of intervals the TR platform presents more than anything. My time “in zones” has greatly improved. Given recovery is ok I’m showing decent adaptation.

I am not interested so much in my actual and relative scores and understand what you are getting at from the bolded above. They effectively mean nothing to me other than a nice to know marker. All I care about is raising power across the board and obviously repeatability of those numbers.

One aspect of the testing that I’m going to go back and attempt to improve is the nutrition side of things. I’m simply eating too much, wrong timing of macros, and a little sub par on the quality of carbs.

All this. :+1:
Wish my legs/FTP were as big as my stomach/eyes. :confounded:

(Muh name’s not Captain Doughnutman for nothing!)

1 Like

This is what counts. If FTP doesn’t increase, but you are capable of working at a set %FTP for longer, that’s a big W. Just doesn’t show up on an FTP test so isn’t quite as glorious! I’m finding the same thing now working through Half Distance Base, I don’t think my FTP has increased that much (I’ll find out Tuesday though!) , but I can surely hold 80-85% a lot longer than I could six weeks ago.

1 Like

Amen. I do love to train and race, but half the time I workout so I can eat more :blush:


I think he made some improvements but he hates low intensity training and always wants to go as hard as he can.

I did a V02max test in 2016. I had done no structured training then, just unstructured MTB riding a couple of times a week.

My results showed:

V02 ml/min
Peak value = 3635
Anaerobic threshold = 2294

Heat rate:
Peak value: 196 ( was then set to 200)
Anaerobic threshold = 177

The anaerobic threshold for HR was measured when my lactate levels reached 3,8 ( 4.0 is normal).

My final efficiency number was then 88% of threshold.

My numbers where not so impressive, except maybe the 88% number. That one was good for my level ( but not exceptional). So I read some articles about this number, and it basically said: if you bike alot your number will be high for biking…
I also read that some pros could have as high av 95%

But on the podcast they said 90% of threshold exceptional and even rare for pros.
So im guessing using lacate measurments( as I did) has some flaws. Our im I misunderstanding this? Is this not the same thing they talked about on the podcast maybe?


1 Like

Sounds like he could use a TR subscription for the holidays :wink:

1 Like

@alicegrindheim finally someone put some numbers in!

Where is that 88% coming from? Using the VO2 numbers you provided gives 63% of V02peak, which seems more reasonable. This article (from ResearchGate) states a range of 50%-60% for general population and 75% and above for “athletes” (disclaimer: I did not read the whole article and they do not cite that source).

Also curious about the term “efficiency number”, is that their term or yours? I’m guessing they are talking about a different term than they were on the podcast. If your threshold V02 is at 95% of V02peak it seems like you need to work on your V02!

I actually listened to that portion of the podcast this morning on my way to work, and was also curious about where that 90% number came from. Maybe @chad could way in with a source for that info?

1 Like

I think you just gave me an answer to my question. My 63% sounds like my number for what they talked about on the podcast. That makes more sense. This 63% number was never given to me after the test, and my testers never brought it up. A bit strange, as I think its an interesting number. I think if im ever going to test again, im going to do it at a lab that specializes in testing cyclists. This was not the case where I tested in 2016.

The “efficiency number” thing im talking about is a number related to your Heart rate.
My max heart rate wass measured at 200, and my heart rate at threshold ( lactate 4.0) was measured at 177, which gives me a 88% number.

And yes, my VO2 max was bad, and probably is still not great. But know that I know about the 63% number, im actually wondering if I should test again.
As I mentioned, this test was done in 2016, before any structured training. Would be interesting to see if threshold vo2 has gotten any better.

Just re-listened to that section of the podcast (again) and they are talking about fractional utilization when he throws the 90% stat around. Fractional utilization is basically the percentage of your FTP compared to power at V02max. The following quote (source) is a good one (talking about runners, but physiology is similar):

According to Tim Gibbons et al of the US Olympic Committee, “The [lactate turn-point] when expressed as a percentage of V02, is high in the endurance-trained athlete. In sedentary individuals, for example, the [lactate turn-point] may be at approximately 50-60% of VO2 max, whereas in endurance-trained athletes it typically occurs at around 75-90% of VO2 max.”

So the 63% from above isn’t the same thing as they mentioned, but from the data you provided you can’t calculate that either. Do you have power data along with the V02 data above (assuming this was cycling and not running)?

As they frequently talk about on the podcast, most variables derived from HR are less than ideal to use for training purposes.

1 Like

Was about to start a new thread but saw this so I’ll bump it. Not curious for myself but rather for my wife, she’s not into training but she’s trying to lose weight and our local bike shop periodically brings someone in to do various forms of testing and they offer a basic resting metabolic rate test. Was curious to learn from those who have done it if it told you anything the typical estimations can’t. Did you get a lower or higher rate than what is typically calculated for someone like yourself?

@Jonathan has talked about them on the podcast before, and said that from their experience they are pretty darn close to the estimates that you’ll get from the online calculators or one of the scales that give you that kind of information. I have never had one done myself, but can definitely understand how it would aid in weight loss. If it’s reasonably priced I would say it’s good info to get started on a weight loss journey, but if its pricey I would do some more research before biting the bullet. Just my 0.02