Are you a numbers person? If so, tune in…you might enjoy this.
I recently had the opportunity to do an Active Metabolic Assessment. The goal of this assessment is to find out how your body burns fuel and how to make it burn more efficiently during your workout. From this assessment, you will gain data such as your VO2 Max, what your workload is in each target heart rate zone, how many calories you burn per minute in each heart rate zone, and whether they come from fat or carbs.
I scheduled the appointment, nervously. I am going to run on a treadmill wearing what? This beauty right here…
Once complete, I went for a snack (because I had to fast for this) while the trainer completed his end of the data. I returned to a lovely print-out of how my body functions at various levels of exertion. This information provides you with an idea of how hard you need to work in order to efficiently burn fat, how hard to work in order to increase endurance, what levels are ideal for recovery days (for instance, my current ideal recovery pace is 11:19)…a whole lot of concrete information in one little chart.
Your VO2 capacity can be increased through various methods of interval training. One example is to do hill repeats; the hills need to be a couple of minutes long. Complete a warm-up jog for about 10 minutes. Run up the hill for 3 minutes, recovery jog downhill, and repeat four to six times. During the uphill interval, you are pushing hard, breathing hard (this would be Zone 3 in the Metabolic Assessment). You want the effort to be difficult but not all out.
These numbers are helpful because some of us don’t know exactly how to manage a workout (raising my hand…that’s me!). Some workouts may call for running at percentages of max speed, 30 seconds faster or slower than average pace, or lots of other numbers that are difficult to measure based on feel. The results of this assessment are interpreted through heart rates, perceived exertion, and actual speed…you can use any of these that you are able to measure when you apply this to a workout. For instance, I know about what my exertion level is when I am running a 10-minute mile. I know that I am working at about conversation pace, and I am comfortable. I now know that this is the pace at which I most efficiently burn fat. So, if I don’t have a Garmin or heart-rate monitor with me, then I can run at a comfortable pace, and hit my target for fat-burning mode. When I need to work on speed or increasing endurance, I will insert intervals in the higher zones of effort like the hill workout described above. This can also be helpful if you're training for a triathalon or cross-training due to injury. The same data applies to workouts in the pool, bike, or other medium for cardio exercise.
What does all of this mean? It means there is another tool out there to help you take the guesswork out of your workouts. It helps you get familiar with your own body. It’s more information you can have should you want it (at a cost of course, at least $100 you’ll shell out at a local gym). While it’s certainly not necessary, I find it kind of fun…but I’m one of those numbers people. I feel like I have personal information to tailor my workouts for various results.
Have any of you tried this out? Please, please share! We would love to know how it was for you, did you find it helpful, and have you seen desired results from knowing this information?