The Value of Physiological Testing with the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center

We talk with exercise physiologist Jared Berg about the value of athlete physiology testing like VO2max and lactate testing at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center.

Chris Case Fast Talk Laboratories

Riding on the gold standard Velotron in a lab and breathing into an uncomfortable face mask while a physiologist like our guest Jared Berg pokes your ear might not sound like a good time at all. Which is probably why Coach Connor can’t get enough. But this week’s show is about exactly that, physiological testing. The end result of a good test is a robust set of data specific to you, which can help you understand things like your true physiological training zones, how much carbohydrate you burn for a given effort, and just how well you can get up infamous climbs like Magnolia Road here in Boulder. Learning about your body’s unique capacity for work is crucial as you prepare for races and work on pushing yourself to your full potential.

Our guest, Jared Berg, the lead exercise physiologist at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center in Boulder, is going to walk us through some of the most common performance tests, including the VO2Max test and the lactate test, describing each protocol as well as its benefits. You’ll learn what’s the right test for you, the ins and outs of the various protocols, and how to prepare yourself for the day of testing. We’ll also discuss how to select a lab that will give you the most accurate data. Let’s make you fast!

Primary Guest Jared Berg: Lead physiologist at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center

Episode Transcript

Chris Case  00:00

Welcome to Fast Talk, the velonews podcast and everything you need to know to compress. Hello, and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host Chris case, joined yet again by the king of pain himself, Coach Trevor Connor, writing on the gold standard Mellotron in a lab and breathing into an uncomfortable face mask. While a physiologist like our guests, Jared Berg, pokes your ear might not sound like a good time at all, which is probably why coach Connor can’t get enough of it. But this week’s show is about exactly that physiological testing. The end result of good test is a robust set of data specific to you, which can help you understand things like your true physiological training zones, how much carbohydrate you burn for a given effort, and just how well you can get up infamous climbs like Magnolia road here in Boulder. Learning about your body’s unique capacity for work is crucial as you prepare for races and work on pushing yourself to your full potential. Our guest, the affer mentioned Jared Berg, the lead exercise physiologist at the University of Colorado sports medicine and Performance Center here in Boulder is going to walk us through some of the most common performance tests, including vo two max test, the lactate test, they’ll describe each protocol in detail, as well as its benefits. You’re going to learn what’s the right test for you. You’ll also learn the ins and outs of the various protocols, and how to prepare yourself for the day of testing. We’ll also discuss how to select a lab that will give you the most accurate data. maybe just maybe you learn to pronounce a few new words you’ve never heard before. Ever heard of sim Morphosis? Can you say that I know, Coach Connor camp, you’ll learn why. Oh, and if you haven’t seen it yet, drop everything and check out the legendary bike racing movie American fliers. It’s available on Amazon Prime for 299, which is probably too much. But hey, it’s educational. You can’t consider yourself a true cyclist. Nor will you fully appreciate this episode until you’ve seen it. Finally, if things already sound a little different, and you notice a lot better sound quality on this episode. That’s because we have a new producer on the show. I can’t believe it myself. Jana Martin has joined our team. And we’re incredibly excited about that. She comes to us with over a decade of podcast and television production experience. In other words, now that Trevor isn’t allowed to touch his computer, the show is going to get better. But wait, there’s more. Stay tuned for more exciting changes here at Fast Talk. A production of Fast Talk Labs. We’ve got more shows Yes, in 2020 it will be the year when Fast Talk Labs expands beyond fast stop. You know the names Colby Pierce and grant hockey right? Well expect more from them in the near future. Go to our website, www dot Fast Talk become a fan of Fast Talk on slash real fast dot labs on Slash fast underscore labs underscore real and on slash fast dot labs. Now there are a lot of dashes, dots underscores in there, but let’s hope you keep it straight and follow us. As always, send us your feedback and thoughts at Fast Talk at Fast Talk Now, get your shimmy buttered let’s make you fast. ready to take your training and racing to the next level. We’re proud to introduce the Fast Talk Labs performance experience training camps combining our devotion to science with our passion for sport. We’ve developed a world class experience modeled after World Tour team camps the likes of which are typically reserved for the most elite cyclists now bringing it to you to help you gain a better understanding of the science of human performance. In partnership with the incredible staff at the University of Colorado sports medicine and Performance Center will guide you through pro caliber physiological testing, biomechanical analysis and nutritional assessment. Throughout the camp. leading experts in Sport Science will present on the latest developments in their fields. Oh, and you’ll also get to ride on the gorgeous mountain roads of Boulder with Coach Trevor Connor and myself. Check out Fast Talk enter Fast Talk Labs 2020 as the discount code and receive $500 off a purchase at this performance experience at training camp.


Chris Case  05:02

Well, we’re sitting down today in the beautiful University of Colorado sports medicine and Performance Center, a world class facility, beautiful jerseys hanging on the wall with signatures of famous writers. There’s a lot a lot of cool stuff that happens in this place. And we’re really happy to have Jared Berg with us. He’s mentioned to me just before we started recording, between 1000 and 2000, people you’ve tested on on physic physiological testing with them. That’s, that’s a lot of people. Yeah, that’s



really glad people. Certainly, yeah.



So we’re,


Chris Case  05:41

we’re really happy to have you here today to talk about the values, the benefits, some of the sort of pros and cons to have physiological testing in a lab. So thanks for being here.


Jared Berg  05:52

Hey, thanks for having me.


Trevor Connor  05:53

So the thing that really surprised me as Chris, you said, we need to do an episode on physiological testing. And I turned to you and I’m like, Chris, we’ve done like dozens. And then we went through the episode that we’ve never actually done an episode just talking about the different types of physiological testing what to know about it, how to get something good out of it. And we just talked about example of really bad physiological testing, where I had a friend asked me to administer a test for him, that his coach mailed to us. And it had a lactate test had a single finger fricker a bunch of vials that I just had to put a drop of blood in each vial, no fluid to preserve it, no cooling and just mail it back to the coach.


Jared Berg  06:43

Yeah, that didn’t didn’t seem right. A little bit. Yeah, yeah, a lot of balls in the air there. Yeah, you know,


Trevor Connor  06:50

it’s pretty outstanding displays that I get that I get to work, I mean, to have even just things like, like, you know, 1520 foot high ceilings, with open windows facing the front range, where I feel like you see most tests, the videos of people doing lab testing, and it’s like, down in the basement of some, you know, clinic or hospital, we get just a pretty, pretty nice spot. And we have really great equipment, everything is really, you know, kind of well taken care of, and we really enjoy being here. And so we’re gonna explain the basics of this different type of testing. But part of what I was getting out there is we’re also going to tell you how to know when you’re getting a good test when you’re getting a bad test and, and that a lot of that really comes down to the details. I have not administered 1000 tests, but I’ve probably administered 5060. And I know the basics, I can do an okay test, and I watched Jared do it and go wow. And that’s when you kind of see this is this is an art form.


Jared Berg  07:51

Yeah, it is definitely an art to the science. It’s, it becomes a craft. And they’ve been you know, I feel like it’s a constant practice. You’re always learning. You’re learning as you go in and gain more insight with every new athlete that you that you work with doing a test. I feel like I’m very lucky to have flexible flexibility with how I administer a test. Right? I mean, when someone comes in really it’s my job in the very beginning is to understand who they are and what they’re looking for what they need.


Trevor Connor  08:18

So I was thinking about this last night and identify there’s kind of four goals that you’re trying to accomplish when you’re you’re doing any sort of testing, whether it’s in the lab or for example, as you said we had Neil Henderson on the show a while ago talking about his protocol, which is now used by suffer fast which is that five seconds Sprint’s five minute effort, 20 minute effort, one minute effort, which I throw at my athletes, just because they all cringe when they hear a good one. It’s not easy.


Jared Berg  08:49

I’ve been doing that one with athletes for years. Yeah,


Trevor Connor  08:51

I did it last week. It was not pleasant. at all,


Jared Berg  08:58

I guess similar to what yeah, maybe cod Coggan does.


Chris Case  09:01

Exactly. Yeah.


Trevor Connor  09:03

Yep. So there’s, there’s a variety of out in the road. And I have heard some coaches saying these are so good. You don’t really need to go into the lab. So we’ll dissect that. But let’s first let me just kind of list these these four goals. When you’re doing testing, these are the things that you’re trying to accomplish. And the first and obvious is test your performance level and see where you are at. The next one is and this is one I love as a coach is determining your physiological strengths and weaknesses. For example, when I did my test, my five minute effort, my 20 minute effort were about the same and my one minute wasn’t much better because I am a pure threshold machine with absolutely no top end. So that kind of shows me my strengths and weaknesses versus I have some other lads athletes that will just absolutely crush that one minute but can barely get through the 20 minute effort because they’re they’re all anaerobic. The third goal is to determine target zones. What are the zones you want to train it. And the fourth goal is tracking your physiological changes or improvements over time. So this is where you keep repeating tests to see how you’ve improved, see where you’re at versus the last time. These are the four goals of doing some sort of testing. And so I’m actually going to throw that back to you. And talk about lab versus road, what can you get on the road? What are these can you accomplish on the road? What can you accomplish in the lab? And are there things that you can only accomplish in the lab? So I guess, let’s


Jared Berg  10:40

start off with like, sir, that Savior and do a 20 minute sort of FTP test, right, just break down to that, talk about that one right away, you know, your goal is try to figure out what that your functional threshold power is, right. And that is something is defined as your best 60 minutes, right? In most literature. So, you know, someone goes ahead and does a test, they score 290 watts, you know, and then what you’re trying to do from there is take an arbitrary percent of that, to predict what your FTP would be here to assume what your FTP would be, you’re really sort of learning is sort of, you’re getting performance numbers, or you’re sort of seeing what you can do. Instead, in a physiology lab, we want to see how you did that effort. Right. So that’s the big difference. It’s not just looking at what you did, it’s looking at, you know, how you made those that workload happen. And so with, when you start to do that, you can understand sort of what kind of athlete that person is, like, he sort of talked about yourself, where you, your threshold powers, this, you went to do a one minute, it wasn’t that much higher than what your you know, your threshold power was, right? Where if someone’s a more explosive sport, athlete, right, they may be able to totally, almost like, smoke a 20 minute test. And then if you take, if you give them an FTP, which is I think they’re kind of doing like maybe 97 to 90% of your FTP, or 20 minute test is your FTP, or if you put that percent 90 97%, they’re actually gonna be way overshooting their, their FTP, right. And if you’re trying to create all your zones, based off that kind of go into one of your next goals, you all your zones are going to be off your sweet spot, it’s going to be off your, your, you know, lt one, VT one, or that, you know, baseline workload is going to be off, you see that in the lab, what I might see with that more explosive sport athlete, I might see lactates are sort of ramping up. From the beginning, I don’t see a real, you know, steady baseline, I might see just really high lactates, I might see two solid stages above threshold, where that that last, lactate levels gonna be somewhere like, you know, above 10, millimoles, right, if I did a vo two max test, I might see the, their lactate threshold at like, low 80s or maybe even under 80% of their vo two max. Right. And that would that would tell me that that person is a more explosive sport athletes. So the next time they go out to the field to do an FTP test, right, they should be taking you maybe 90 or 92% of that number, not the 95 or 97% of that FTP to help them dial in so they could do a test with me in the lab. And then they know how to how to, in essence, score their FTP better. And then they can get all those zones dialed in, in the future consistently.


Trevor Connor  13:45

So the use of visual, you’re gonna have two athletes that go out and do a 20 minute test and get the exact same knowledge power. But you can have an athlete like me, who has very little anaerobic energy stores. Yeah. So I’m really producing that all that that work aerobically. So for me, you could take that 97% and that’s actually pretty accurate. Yeah, you’re gonna have another athlete who actually can produce a lot of that power anaerobically they don’t have a strong aerobic engine, but they do have a very strong anaerobic engine. Yeah. So they they have the same average power as me. But because they’re producing a lot of that work anaerobically they have to do a much smaller multipliers. Exactly,


Jared Berg  14:29

exactly. That can be difference between 15 and 30 watts for that 290 watt, individual,


Trevor Connor  14:34

right. And it’s a concern because if you then give that athlete threshold work, let’s say, I’m coaching that athlete and said, go out and do four by 16 minutes at 97% of what you did that 20 minute test, that they’re gonna die, and you’re gonna be trading the wrong system. Right?


Jared Berg  14:50

Right. You’re you’re going to be training what they’re already good at, not training with the need to work on.


Trevor Connor  14:55

So I love this metaphor that you use when I was talking to you about this. About a year ago, you said that out. So think of it like a car. Yeah. On the road testing allows you to see the performance of the car. But the lab testing lets you look under the hood. Exactly,


Jared Berg  15:13

exactly are they doing it with a new electric engine or they have a diesel, real low economic or efficient internal combustion.



palo Saldana, the founder of power, watts ran a physiology lab at McGill University. So he knows a lot about testing, I asked him what he thinks the value of lab testing is, the more realistic laboratory testing is to what they’re going to encounter in the real world, the closer you will approximate and the better, you’ll be able to make some some some estimates as to the capacity of the rider outside, but there’s so many elements in bike racing, not the least of which is you know, just strategical initiatives or terrain changes and, and and the duration of the events that are really difficult to to be able to say because you score a certain amount on a particular laboratory test, call it a vo two max or lactate threshold test or, you know, aerobic threshold, whatever you want to evaluate underwriter, it’s really tough to make big conclusions from that I think what you can do with laboratory testing, is you can get a sense kind of like as a barometer to what the opportunity may be. And then you need, it’s kind of like, okay, we have a diamond that’s stuck inside this rock, the laboratory test will tell you that there’s a diamond in there. But you still have to carve away the rock to get to that diamond. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy. But that’s kind of how I think of it, you get


Trevor Connor  16:43

good numbers in the lab, it tells you a lot about the athlete physiologically, but that doesn’t mean they can translate it into on the road performance, you’re actually saying there’s a real value to testing on the road that you couldn’t get from the lab. So you’re flipping



literally, yeah, there’s huge value. In fact, I do a lot of testing on the road, you know, I mean, I test where the athlete is tested. And the other thing I do is I whenever I bring athletes into my center, I actually test them collectively. So I’ll line up for national teamers or for elite world class racers, and I will actually make them perform a particular test. For example, I have one that I call an anaerobic repeatability tests where we, they ride around bikes, they’re on rollers, with a cage around the roller. And they’re all lined up in front of me. And I put the numbers on the board and they start off two minutes on two minutes off. I measure lactate after the minute recover at two minutes recovery into the halfway of that two minute recovery measure lactate and the each start at the same time. And they all start at five watts per kilo. And they all do two minutes on two minutes off five watts per kilo, two minutes on two minutes off 5.5 watts per kilo two minutes on two minutes off six watts per kilo and they keep climbing the ladder climbing the ladder. So what does that do? First of all, it measures repeatability. Which by the way is one of the single biggest indicators of performance in a bicycle race. Doesn’t matter what your vo two Max is, if you cannot repeat anaerobic efforts when the going gets tough and things get strung out, you’re not going to win a lot of bike races. So we introduced the concept of repeatability into the actual laboratory tests where we measure lactate and power output and heart rate and perceived exertion. And we just make it so that it’s a competitive event. Because in a laboratory, if you have one guy and I don’t know when Elodie or domitor on a treadmill test or whatever you want to test them on, there’s really nothing to stimulate that athlete other than their own internal willingness to do well, which probably 5% less than you would get if you pitted them against each other. And so I do a lot of that where I bring athletes in and I test them collectively and we get a lot more interesting data and we get a lot more out of the athlete from that. It’s Last Man Standing testing I call it


Trevor Connor  19:06

now back to our interview with physiologist Jared Berg.


Chris Case  19:10

So you’ve been describing Jared, some of these tests in the lab, you’re talking about lactate concentrations ramping up and things like that. But there are probably a lot of people out there that aren’t really familiar with laboratory testing. They’re not really familiar with sort of the results that you get from that test. So why don’t we jump in there? Why don’t we start talking about the different tests you can conduct in a laboratory setting? Probably the most familiar for people is that vo two max test they may have seen clips of this from American fliers or I don’t know other other movies out there in popular culture where people are in this lab. They’ve got the mask on there. Maybe people in the lab start cheering for them. They’re going really hard. They’re


Trevor Connor  19:58

sweating bullets or This stuff. So go into that talk about what that test is and what it’s looking for. And as we know, everything in American fliers was hyper realistic and completely accurate, including a bodybuilder Russian with a beard is the top cyclists in the world.



That was any did he throw his banana answer?


Trevor Connor  20:23

No, but the villain does try



  1. Yeah, I’m


Trevor Connor  20:26

ruining the movie here. But you’re pushing somebody off the road. Yeah, Shin his he and you know how often I’ve done that in right? Yes.


Jared Berg  20:32

Well, me I’ve heard stories about that.


Chris Case  20:35

Kevin dish tried it a couple times. Robbie McEwen did it too. But


Jared Berg  20:40

yeah, so yeah, you know yet sir. Starting right off the bat with that via to max cast, it’s, um, American flyers was interesting, because if you, you know, I’m looking at that, and I see what they did. And they use the double standard Bruce protocol test, which is when you go to a doctor, you’re gonna do a stress test. And with with all the leads on for an ECG, they’re going to they are most often on a treadmill running through this Bruce protocol test, which is such a weird test, because, like, we like to at least have ramp ups sort of be consistent loads, like, Hey, I’m gonna do a watt per kg watt per kilogram increase every or half a watt per kilogram increase every five minutes, or 25 watt increase every five minutes or whatever. Well, this would be like doing a 25 watt 30 watt, and then a 60 watt, and then the 25 watt


Chris Case  21:29

over the place


Jared Berg  21:30

all over the place. And so it’s really an a weird protocol that, um, I think they maybe designed it because it allowed them to keep the leads smoother by having them either walk or go to a run at a real steep incline. I don’t know. It’s really it’s really, really interesting protocol.


Trevor Connor  21:46

Well, if you’re not doing it the way they did an American pliers and you’re doing it wrong. Exactly,


Jared Berg  21:50



Trevor Connor  21:51

And I’m going to say to all of our listeners, if you have not seen this movie, stop listening to this right now. You are not a cyclist, you know, you have watched American fliers.


Chris Case  22:02

So tell us how it should be done in the


Jared Berg  22:04

vt max test, first thing you want you really gonna want to do is make sure you get that add an accurate measurement of the person’s weight. Okay, because the two max can both be absolute relative weight somebody in and then you’re going to get them on on a bike or a treadmill. And you’re start increasing workload every single You know, every one minute or every two minutes. So we could do maybe six, two minutes stages, right starting at a really light workload and add 25 or 30 watts every stage until that person reaches basically they they tap out and say, Hey, on a scale of zero to 10, this feels like a 10, I’m done. Or we see oxygen utilization, stop increasing, where it works going up, it’s going up very linear. And at some point, it will stop going up linear and it will just level off and start plateauing, even dropping towards that last minute or so of the last stage. And then we’ll Hey, you’re not going to be able to use any more oxygen. Anything else you do is based off of, you know, all your anaerobic power, you


Trevor Connor  23:14

don’t need to keep going. one really important thing to point out about this test that I think sometimes people confuse an important metric is not how much oxygen you’re breathing. What we’re actually measuring is oxygen consumption. So it’s how much your body is actually using. Yeah, which is different. You’re hooked up to this faceman Yeah. And so it is measuring how much oxygen you are consuming. And it’s also measuring how much carbon dioxide you’re exhaling. Yep. Yeah. And it’s going to look at these ratios to determine a whole lot of really interesting things about what’s going


Jared Berg  23:48

exactly. Yeah, that’s what that’s what you’re doing. And the one thing I talked about a via with the via to max test, that one thing I guess I don’t like about it, it doesn’t really mimic anything that you would do in sport, whenever would would you just sort of ramp up resistance every minute or two until you fail? Right? Usually, like when we’re riding a bike we’re holding resistance holding a workload for you know, five minutes or so you know, 10 minutes or whatever straight but with the via to max as you’re just like you’re trying to get up towards Max, you know, just really quickly,


Chris Case  24:26

it reminds me of a tractor pull. Like the farther you pull the tractor the more it digs into the ground. Have you seen the tractor pulls? I haven’t know well, then this is important ology but yeah, but it is as soon as you start worrying driving it. It increases the resistance effectively until you cannot pull any longer. This is a vehicle not a human but effectively a vo two Max is that same sort of thing. You go until you Yeah, can’t go any further. Exactly.


Jared Berg  24:57

What’s interesting with this test though, even though it doesn’t mimic anything doing sport, it can really do an okay job at giving us all kinds of data that is similar that you would do with any other type of, of testing in the lab.


Trevor Connor  25:12

Well, this is why became the gold standard for for, for research, because you could get so much information from it and they discover this fantastic curve or you, you see your oxygen consumption rise rise rise, and then there’s a certain point where it levels off. And that’s why they call it view to match there’s


Jared Berg  25:30

a point where you just can’t consume more oxygen and that line correlates very well with your heart rate. One The other thing too, is that there’s actually been before that you get to that plateau, there is data that you will see where Hey, where to oxygen will sort of be rising grass, or sort of almost at a baseline, and then it starts to tick up. And then you also see a couple other metrics, like you’ll see the the ventilation rate, the respiratory rate, breathing starts to take up at a certain at a certain location, right. And then you’ll also see as the partial pressure of oxygen, the graph that we can, we can track on the with the metabolic cart, that that starts to pick up at a certain spot and those can be tagged really closely to where you would see a baseline level lactate. Right. And so you can do a vo to Max has in 15 minutes and come you know with maybe within five or 10% of where you might peg that person’s lack. First m lt one in you know, a normal like lactate profile test. Right? So


Trevor Connor  26:40

people on the show have heard us talk a lot about vt one vt two Yes. ventilatory threshold one mental error threshold to what you find in vo two max test


Jared Berg  26:49

inventor a threshold one should line up with lactate threshold one. Okay. And so in vt venturi threshold two should line up with lactate threshold, you can get that information which makes it really useful for for somebody who’s not trained to do a long bike test like like, you know, like athletes like yourselves are, where you can get a good zone data for somebody in a much shorter, quicker test. Mm hmm. Okay, and the other thing I like to talk about a vo t Max is where starts to get applicable to sport is when you get to that actual max number, right? What were the watts that you could hold at your vo two Max, right, that becomes an important number for to use even in a race situation. Right? If you have a situation where you need to either bridge somebody who attacked on you in a road race, or try to get some separation or somebody to know how many watts you have available to max how many watts you can hold for, you know, maybe four to eight minutes, right to have that number, that’s going to be useful. And also to have that sort of Max watts at max vo two are your watts MX vo two, you can start to design training protocols that can raise that or he may even get more watts at your max vo two or raise your vo two max. And so having that number two for to work on that specific metabolic marker is


Trevor Connor  28:23

very useful. And this is part of the reason we talked about Neil Henderson’s test protocol. He has a five minute effort in there. And part of the reason that that five minute is important and Dr. siloes talked about as a six minute effort. Yeah, is because the power you can hold for about five six minutes actually tends to match up pretty well with the power that you are at when you hit your vo two max


Jared Berg  28:49

Yeah, but but now you know, here what if it doesn’t, right and that that gives you an opportunity to understand weakness. What if you’re you do like say a one minute ramp up to vo t Max, you get like 425 watts, right at that vo two Max and then you go to try to hold it for as long as you can, you only get three minutes. And therein lies an opportunity to start designing a training protocol that can maybe get you up to where you can hold that for five minutes. Therefore you made a weakness now a strength but knowing that via to max number helps you learn that and so that’s where that via to max test can become you know, really useful, I think from a practical racing standpoint.


Trevor Connor  29:31

Chris something that might not be clear to all our listeners, but I know you really excited about everybody who listened to us knows Fast Talk.



Mm hmm.


Trevor Connor  29:39

But we now have fast laps, which is the business. Mm hmm. And that was your title. Love the title.


Chris Case  29:47

Thank you.


Trevor Connor  29:48

But it’s we made that change because this is more now than just the podcast.


Chris Case  29:55

Yeah. You know the two of us in particularly you with your exercise physiology. Sort of philosophy have built something here. And, and for a while Fast Talk was our outlet for it. But what we’re doing now essentially is turning that into a 3d experience where people can come and live that this is the science of performance. We preach that all the time on Fast Talk. Now we’ve got a company called Fast Talk Labs that we live it and we’re going to share that experience with other people.


Trevor Connor  30:28

And one of the big elements that we’ve been excited about for a long time that’s actually been in the work for years are these performance training camps, we want to have an experience that normally only World Tour teams have, where you come to Boulder for four days, and we do physiological testing, we do the full bike fit, we do fizzy max testing on you, you get a ride, and in Boulder every night, we’re gonna have presentations by by top experts on training on nutrition on all these different subjects. This is the sort of thing that like, like we said, only a world tour team normally experiences and we’re excited about our ability to offer this to you all of our listeners.


Chris Case  31:13

Yeah, and I think it has pretty broad appeal. Honestly, if you’re really into performance, then you come here because you walk away with more tools in order to improve that and performance. If you’re a science nerd, and you really want to understand what’s going on inside your body, when you’re doing intervals or when you’re doing long rides, whatever the case may be, come to this camp and you’ll have doors open that you never thought possible that will tell you what’s going on inside your body at a cellular level even. And if you’re just a person that loves to ride bikes and wants to improve a little bit wants to know more about that physiological side. That’s great too. But maybe the destination is the place for you. boulder is incredible for riding. That’s why we live here. Honestly, I was drawn here because of the cycling, the atmosphere, the roads, the This place is incredible for that. So it appeals for all of those reasons and more, go to our website, www dot Fast Talk Check us out. We have three camps in 2021. The last few days of April 1 few days of May, one in June, and one in August. Check out Fast Talk enter Fast Talk Labs 2020 as the discount code and receive $500 off a purchase at this performance experience and training camp.


Chris Case  32:44

This is where you can talk about us humans and pronghorns and how we have overbuilt lungs.


Trevor Connor  32:51

Humans and pronghorns are the only animals on the planet that have overbuilt lungs, which actually allows us to handle altitude better than a lot of other animals.


Jared Berg  32:59

Isn’t it true that like other animals, like a cheetah, has like, every like stride corresponds with a breath? I think I read that somewhere


Trevor Connor  33:13

quite possible


Jared Berg  33:14

in the mechanics of the stride, right? Like causes like the mechanics of breakfast?


Trevor Connor  33:20

Well, so Okay, well, we’ll go down this this tangent, I could never had to give a whole presentation on this and I can’t pronounce this word. It’s simile force forces. No, yeah. Can you give me the correct pronunciation here, I cannot sit. No, I can’t. The night before the presentation, I sat there in the mirror like doing what you see actors doing trying to prepare, like get my mouth correctly say this. And I still only got it half the time in this presentation. But the This concept is nature designed us to be very efficient. So there’s no point if you have a chain. So oxygen consumption, first you have to breathe in air, then the heart has to so then your blood has to take up that oxygen, your heart has to pump it to the working tissues. And the tissues have to take the oxygen out of the blood to use it. These are all the steps of oxygen consumption. It’s not just breathing. There’s there’s multiple, multiple steps. And the idea here is there’s no point having one one of those steps being over built relative to the others, because then it’s just inefficiency. Yeah. So the this idea of similar forces was actually I think, pretty close. That after this, this idea is that all of these different steps are actually equally built. And in most animals that is true. It’s not true in humans and pronghorns. our lungs are over built for that process. We can always breathe in more oxygen we need then we can consume. So I always find it funny when you see all these people talking about the Going out ways to breathe and more options like, that’s actually not a problem at all. Yeah, it only becomes a problem at altitude once you start getting into higher and higher altitudes, and you actually have problems breathing in air and pronghorns or an altitude adapted animal.


Chris Case  35:16

Some Morphosis Siri says some more emphasis.


Trevor Connor  35:20

So Chris, just say that word. And then we’ll, we’ll do is every time I’m talking, we’ll just you’ll suddenly have Chris





Trevor Connor  35:32

Back to the show, now that we’ve totally butchered vo to max. So anybody out there who understood vo two Max, Congratulation, you don’t understand it anymore. Is this a valuable test for your typical cyclists who’s trying to see under the hood of their physiology? What is valuable about this test what is not


Jared Berg  35:52

using it the right way, it’s a valuable test, right when I when I talked about using it to find your watts via to max right your power of via to max and your max heart rate that can be very useful information, trying to train your body to enhance what he can do via to max is very useful in a training protocol, right? Trying to use it to pin your, your training zones and your physiological inflection points. There is a better way to do it. Right, I guess and we’ll be going into that next.


Trevor Connor  36:28

So so I had the best when I lived in Ithaca, New York, and I might have already told this story, but I had the best protocol ever for figuring out max heart rate. It was actually designed by my friend Glen Swann when people would ask us how to figure this out before anybody had power meters. We would tell them to go and climb this road called buffalo Street. Yeah, yeah. And they’d always be like, well, should I be time trial and how should I take it just go climate and this is this super steep 15 minute climb? Okay. And so just to get up at you have to go pretty hard but about halfway up. There is absolutely dilapidated house with like five cars on cinderblocks? Yeah, with a dog to 110 I knew your yard. I knew that right away and they are not on leashes. They come out barking in a way that you know they are going to eat you.



This is another American flyer ready is a real son of a bitch. Yeah.


Trevor Connor  37:22

So yeah, that is an American but we got American players seem good, but we honestly would do this. People would come back to Glenn on the shop. People come back to the shop just furious with us. Like, why do you do that? those dogs are gonna kill me. And we’re like, were you recording your heart rate? Yeah. Did you see the highest heart rate you’ve ever seen? Hell yeah. Well, there’s your max heart rate.


Jared Berg  37:41

Because that happened to me on Magnolia. Magnolia made no that would hurt is not a classic spot. I mean, not everyone. The dog I don’t think was just a couple different times. But I was getting ready to go up the very last sort of steep pitch right? You already get over the real grunt of it. And you had the false flat or the one with the turn. Yeah. And then they need that one rear first turn base switch back to the right I was getting ready to go up that guy in a dog came right barrel and after me I’m like, I thought I was tired. But no, I


Chris Case  38:11

for those who don’t know, Magnolia is a sinister, yeah. Climb with some very steep pitches at altitude and throw a dog in the mix. That’s nasty.


Jared Berg  38:22

I call it my staircase elevation.


Trevor Connor  38:23

So So pre Strava, there was actually a website where people used to debate what were the hardest climbs in North America, and had a list in a lot of clients. And generally, yeah, it was Mount Washington out. Yep. In New Hampshire, that one. But Magnolia was always on the list of the top three. Yeah, it’s


Jared Berg  38:42

just a brute. Yeah, Magnolia spits you out before you’re done with 10 minutes.


Chris Case  38:47

Yeah, right. Yep. You don’t want to go hard too early on that thing.


Trevor Connor  38:51

It’s important for review to Max has to be relatively short. Otherwise, you’re going to fatigue before you hit your true max. So it’s a pretty quick ramp, I’ve actually done do two max tests where the water just continually rises, you did it, you never hold it at a level. Most of the vo two max as I do, you increase the wattage every minute, so it ramps up quick. You actually don’t want to do that with a good lactate test. So to use an example, you have an athlete in being tested, let’s say they’re at the stage where they’re doing 180 watts and their lactate are at 1.8 millimoles. Then you bump them up to say 205. So 25 watt increase, you’re not going to see a big change in lactates right away. It’s going to take a few minutes for the lactates to catch up and plateau for whatever that level is. When you’re below threshold. lactate will generally plateau above threshold. No, they’re not gonna plateau. But you need time for it to increase and stable I know your opinion on this, I completely agree with you. There’s a lot of lactate tests out there that use three minute stages. But I don’t think that’s enough. For a lot of people for their lactates to plateau, you use a five minute protocol, which seems like a good kind of middle ground where you’re not going to completely destroy the athlete with these really long stages, but it gives enough time to the lactates to level out. Just to give our listeners an ideal, some World Tour teams do 10 minutes stages. So just picture this poor World Tour athlete on a bike where once they’re getting up to high wattage, as they have to spend 10 minutes it’s a 275 watts then 10 minutes at 300 watts, 10 minutes at 325. That can be a long test for them, the test can go well over an hour. Most of us don’t have to deal with a lactate test that long, but they are certainly going to be longer than the 12 to 14 minutes you you want to for a vo to max test. And when you’re doing this protocol, the tester is going to take your lactates towards the end of each stage to hopefully get a good accurate lactate measurement for that stage.


Jared Berg  41:15

lactate is a byproduct of carbohydrate metabolism. Alright, so when we metabolize carbohydrate, lactate is you know, is a byproduct that will that will get it’s actually interesting because it’s just like carbohydrate, it’s still a substrate lactase is broken down. Carbohydrates broken down into pyruvate. And lactate both can be metabolized in the model as sources of energy and yeah, yeah, metabolize and it uses energy give us ATP. And ATP is sort of the end currency of energy that helps make muscles contract.


Chris Case  41:47

What about the protocol? Okay, can you describe that for us? So,


Jared Berg  41:50

okay, protocol would be, it’s crucial to, you want to see as much as you can see, right, and you want to see how the body responds to very low workloads, right. Because sometimes, you know, some people, whenever they get on a bike or get off for a run, it’s working out and they’re in, it’s intense, and they start showing that response and lactate start going up, you know, like crazy. And so, what we want to do is we want we want to see where lactates really low, where they have baseline levels, and I say baseline levels. that’s similar to where we are at rest. Like all of us sitting here talking here in this podcast, we’re hopefully have lactates you know, somewhere around a millimole to millimole and a half or so. Okay, well when you’re exercising, and you’re using the systems in your body that are really good at at metabolizing fats metabolizing carbohydrates, aerobically, clearing and utilizing lactate are we can exercise with resting baseline level lactates. So ideally, if we can see that in a lactate profile test, right, we started the test at a low enough intensity, right the first day or two possibly three. For you know, guys, like you getting ready for the dirty kanza and stuff like that maybe, you know, we undershoot undershot, you in four stages later, your lactate hasn’t budged. Because you can handle so much work and still metabolize clear lactate still use fats.


Chris Case  43:19

And when you say stages, you’re talking about a specific power output for a certain given given amount of time. Yeah, what do you mean by stage?


Jared Berg  43:28

Yeah, so say if we started out, we’ll use absolute watts, for simplicity. You started you out at you know, 170 watts doing 31 jumps, right, you know, at 170, it’s 1.2, millimoles, lactate at 200. We’re seeing 1.3. And then at 230, it’s still 1.3. Right? And then finally, at 260. Right, we’re up to receive a 1.8. Right, that’s starting to see a rise in lactate. And that sort of would also correspond with a ventually threshold one or a lactate threshold one, when it first starts pit that rise,


Chris Case  44:09

and you’re getting the lactate concentrations by just pricking someone’s finger or ear. Yep, getting a small blood sample and putting it into a device kicks out a number for you exactly


Jared Berg  44:19

says that. It’s that simple. Yep. And then and then we’ll see lactate start to rise a little bit when it’s on that gradual rise and not not real steep yet. Right? It might go from 1.8 to 2.6, to you know, maybe a 3.3. Right. So it’s just going up consistently by like, you know, maybe like point seven millimoles per stage, right? That’s a sign when it’s when it’s going up gradually like that, that we are, we’re doing a aerobic glycolysis we’re metabolizing carbohydrates still and we’re aerobic Lee and we’re also able to keep up with that lactate right then it at somewhere. Maybe Between like 3.3 and four millimoles, it takes a big jump, right? It goes up to like five or five and a half, six by six millimoles, maybe a millimeter and a half to two millimolar jump, right, that’s a sign that we moved from that aerobic glycolysis to the anaerobic glycolysis. And now we’re starting to really produce more lactate that our bodies can keep up with. Right, and that’s, and that would be a lactate threshold spot that would be similar to what we would do for an FTP. Right. I would say it’s probably lactate threshold, I feel like it’s something that someone could hold between an hour an hour and 15 minutes. Mm hmm. Right, right. And then more than, you know, depending on the athlete, and so then we sort of want to take that person, at least one stage above threshold. Why? Because it helps us really round off that curve. See that inflection point, right? If we go any far above that, that’s more like trying to profile the athlete, right? If they can go two stages above above lactate threshold, now they’re showing more like that explosive sport athlete with more fast twitch muscle fibers. Okay, so that’s what we can get with the lactate profile test.


Trevor Connor  46:12

So one of the really important things I want to point out here is again, going back, we talked about Neil Henderson’s protocol, there’s a lot of different protocols for out on the road. But when you look at a protocol that has a five second one minute, five minute 20 minute effort, all of those efforts are looking at things that our threshold or above? Yes, yeah. Right, you’re not looking at anything below threshold. And what I love about a lactate test, and especially sitting down, I’ve, I’ve always loved sitting down with you, when you test one of my athletes and looking at the results, you see a ton of what’s going on with that athlete below threshold,


Jared Berg  46:51

we do that that’s where I feel like the most insightful information is right, we’ll even do with, with some of our, you know, longer more established endurance athletes, or experienced endurance athletes, we’ll have them do a 10 minute stage, just below threshold, right? It’s not a true, you know, what we call em SSL, maximum steady state lactate test, right. But at 10 minutes, we can see if someone is, you know, like, like I said, was like, you know, 2.8 millimoles of five minutes, what, 10 minutes, they’re, you know, 3.8 or four, we can have pretty good indication that they’re not below threshold when they’re hitting that workload, right there, right on that tipping point. So that gave us information where we might have just said, Oh, no, 2.8 was below threshold, where we actually realize that, you know, you give them seven, eight minutes through, their lactate starts to tip. Right? So you can get really, yeah, with a longer stage, we can really get into some, some good insight into how their body is dealing with that


Trevor Connor  47:56

specific work. But that that shape of that curve, like I said, it tells you so much. So to give you a simple example, you have a pure aerobic athlete like me mycred. So I’ll start at like point 00, point eight, your lactate level. And you just see me sit there Flat, flat, flat, flat, you know, I keep going, it barely, barely rises it just as flatline. And also when I hit a point it goes up and I last like two stages. Yeah, I die quickly. And so that’s very reflective of the type of rider I am. I can ride steady at pretty high wattage is. But as soon as the attacks happen and races I struggle, I just have very, very little top end. Yeah, where I brought in athletes to you who have a good anaerobic system or very underdeveloped aerobic Li. And you see they start at one and like by the second stage, you’re already starting to see a slight rise, you’ve never really even see it that level. Yeah, and it’s just kind of this gradual rise, and then they hit a point where it spikes up. But they even at low wattage is have a hard time maintaining low lactate levels. Yeah, that tells you a ton. And that is not something you can’t tell somebody let’s go out and do an on the road test. Go and ride five hours. Yeah. And let’s see what your you know, it’s it’s it’s much, much harder to do than a good 20 minute test. Yeah. So I will imagine actually Dr. Seiler right now is working on an experiment to figure out ways to see the, the this lower profile to determine that, that lt one and athletes on the road, but it’s tough. So the so for the people out there, they’re like, Okay, so


Chris Case  49:44

what, what is the value of knowing, as you put it, the shape of the curve, but also just how well you’re able to utilize the aerobic system and keep lactate levels low at those those lower powers. Great. Yeah, great question. What what’s the What’s the value there and


Jared Berg  50:00

knowing that information is so the most useful thing you can give from a lactate profile test is, is appropriate training intensities. So when you find out what your, where your lactate first starts to move from baseline, right, he’s trained just above that intensity where you’re trying to challenge it a little bit, you’re going to be training your type one muscle fibers, right. And those muscle fibers are the fibers that have the most sort of mitochondrial density, right, and they can metabolize fat, they can metabolize carbohydrates. And they can also clear lactate, right? If you find that spot, and when you start to challenge those muscle fibers, they start to develop and be able to build up their mitochondrial density. So they can actually you can actually make mitochondria mitochondrial biogenesis, right and improve the function of those energy factories, the mitochondria, right, and then you can also get more capillary perfusion to the mitochondria. So you can increase the amount of oxygen you can distribute to those to those muscle fibers. And then also how much basically foodstuff um, you know, like getting that getting the, the carbohydrates and the fats into the into the cell too. So those are all things that are increase, you find that the maximum capacity of those fibers, they start to develop and do that, if you’re a little bit below that, is they do it but not as well, it’s a little bit above that, you’re not gonna be able to go long enough to really challenge them. Right. So you find that key spot, you can really start honing in on you know, a two consistent one hour workouts a two hour workout, even a four or five hour workout a ride, or you can start to just really get those muscle fibers to do more and to be able to


Trevor Connor  51:53

give give you more work for So another way to think of this is I’ve talked to actually even World Tour pros who have said that it’s actually remarkable how consistently, or how often I’ve heard pros say this where they go, I don’t get why so many athletes focus on that one minute, that five minute power and how high they can get that. Yeah, they’ll point out that most masters and amateur athletes can get pretty close to where they can get in terms of a one minute and a five minute power. They go. That’s not really what differentiates the pros, the difference where you really see it is if you’re in a several hour race, like say a three four hour race, and you’re all sitting there at 280 watts. For a top level Pro, their lactate levels aren’t breaking one, right? Yeah, for an amateur, they’re very quickly going to be at four or five millimoles and pretty much riding threshold. And that’s going to kill them. After a couple hours of that. It doesn’t matter what sort of one minute five minute power you can put out. Because that amateur rider is done. You’re not even in the race.


Chris Case  53:01

Yeah, the Pro is effectively sitting on the couch, like you were saying their, their their profile looks like they would be if they were lounging.


Jared Berg  53:10

Yeah. And so they are, they’re saving themselves. They’re saving all of their, quote bullets for the time when it’s makes a difference in how do they do that. It’s interesting, if we did core samples, and we went and did a biopsy of each one of those, those quadriceps of the amateur and the novice compared to the Pro, you will see a significant difference difference in mitochondrial density in each age core sample. Mm hmm.


Trevor Connor  53:36

So Dr. Sam line did an amazing table of this, where he looked at what sort of lactates were sustainable by athletes of different levels. And one of the things that he showed and and your job is going to drop when you do these calculations, to be a world tour level rider. You have to be able to sustain so we’re talking about this is your lt one that lower threshold or below or you are purely aerobic your lactate are sitting at that that base level, you need to be able to sit at about 4.5 watts per kilogram right?



Which is


Chris Case  54:17

probably what what a cat three does for Max 15 minutes. Yeah, right. Right.


Trevor Connor  54:24

So you do the calculation. You take a standard let’s say 70 kilogram male. So what’s 70 times Port 4.5 that’s three little over 300


Jared Berg  54:35

watts yeah 320 or so.


Trevor Connor  54:37

That’s high wattage Yeah. And your your world you so your Tour de France level riders, they can sit there enough five hour right? Yeah, I


Jared Berg  54:46

think they’re doing that I think is in that graph. I remember right there under two millimoles at that point, is that there? Is it there like baseline not


Trevor Connor  54:53

quite base I should say


Jared Berg  54:54

under 2 million or two millimoles Oh, and that and that is that is I see that. It’s pretty


Trevor Connor  55:00

Yeah, so for sorry, it was 4.5 for the aerobic threshold anaerobic threshold tends to be right around that two millimoles. Which is just, yeah. astounding.



Yeah. It’s a lot of work for a little effort.



Yeah. Right. Yeah.


Trevor Connor  55:14

So have a world class writer, World Tour rider tried to take on an amateur, they’re not going to wait for that five minute client to see who can do the work to a rider, probably when that five minute climb too, but they’re not going to wait. There’s going to sit there and go, let’s ramp this up to 320 watts and see how long you can sit with me. Yeah, yeah, your five minute effort isn’t going to be any good after, you know, being above threshold for 15 minutes. And that’s, to me one of the great values of this lactate test. As you can see that curve, you can see that lower, what is sustainable for you, at what point do your lactate just start going up? And you’re on a real time limit? And it’s so I, you always talk to me about this about pushing the curve, right. Moving further and further right before that curve starts to kick up is one of the most valuable thing you can do. Yeah, yeah. Being able to target that and,


Chris Case  56:09

and work on that, because I, I would assume that a lot of people you see in the lab, that is one of their weaknesses, yeah,


Jared Berg  56:17

they’re off. They’re like, you know, they’ve been using some that zone or intense that targets that they’re off by like, five or 10 beats per minute, or 10 to 15 watts, which is significant, right? It’s enough where you’re where you’re doing, you’re in academia, you go about, you talked about Seiler and I follow the same sort of training principle is you want to get 80% of your training right there. All right, to 80% of trains a lot of time, you don’t want to waste that time. Yeah, right, you want to get the most out of that out of that time you spend it you put in. So hitting that getting it dialed in, right, is crucial. And it’s something you’re not gonna be able to do as well, if you’re trying to just predict it a certain percentage off of FTP number that you did out in on the road? Yeah, exactly.


Trevor Connor  57:04

So another thing you see often in the lactate curve is people trying to determine what their aerobic threshold is. And so again, when we’re talking about polarized training, what we’re saying you have that that aerobic threshold, which is around right around or a little below two millimoles. And then you have your anaerobic threshold. And both of these are very clear on a lactate graph. And so 80% of your training, like you said, is below, at or below that aerobic threshold. And then 2015 20% is at or above your lactate threshold. And I’ve seen a lot of athletes who dramatically overestimate that aerobic threshold. And in you, you you might, please tell me, I’m totally wrong in this. But what I’ve tended to see there is because they’re training a little above that Robic threshold and that that middle zone, yeah. You You see that standard shaped curve, you see them hit that aerobic threshold and you get kind of this bump?


Jared Berg  58:04

Yeah, where you don’t get levels? Oh, yeah, you get two points, the same,


Trevor Connor  58:07

and then it keeps going back up. And that’s when you see that somebody has been training in that that middle zone happens often.


Jared Berg  58:14

I do see that quite a bit. Where did you get almost get a little false? False flat? Yep. Right. The other the other key point, we talked about this, we definitely hit this aerobic threshold, you know, lt one, VT one anaerobic threshold, or lactate threshold, right, lt two, v2, that’s a key spot where if we just trained under that threshold, we can really develop those intermediate muscle fiber types to build up their mitochondrial capacity and their ability to to clear and recycle lactate. And it’s one of those situations where we can try to get those muscle fibers to adapt and do the most that they can without having to ask the fast twitch muscle fibers to help out. And it becomes a really good sort of that climbing tempo, that long sustained sort of what can I do for, you know, 60 to 90, even two hours. And if you get a good rhythm, it’s comfortably hard. And you’re building up capacity of a specific muscle fiber type that can really clear utilize lactate give you an even higher sort of launching platform for these even bigger efforts.


Trevor Connor  59:22

Another thing I’ll bring up and again, Jared, very interesting, whether you agree with this or not. But this is at least something that I’ve noticed with athletes is when again, when you’re talking about the shape of the the lactate curve. So once you hit that aerobic threshold, then you you start to see the the curve spike up or kind of very rapidly start Yeah, pointing upwards. How would you describe that? ramping up? Yeah, I intensity work can affect the shape once it starts inflecting up. But let’s just talk right now about a scenario where Keep high intensity work consistent. What I have noticed is and this is the reason I think this 80% low intensity is so important. We talked about pushing the curve, right? I find when athletes do very effective endurance work very effective, that that 80% in the polarized model, it pushes the curve, right. But as long as the high intensity work is staying the same, the curve once it starts to inflect, up stays the same shape.


Jared Berg  1:00:29

Yeah, yeah, it’s just happens at higher workloads. Mm hmm.


Trevor Connor  1:00:32

Right. And that’s why that low intensity work is so important. Everybody focused on the high intensity ago. Right now you’ve changed the shape of that inflection. But you’re still seeing the inflection at the same point, right? Yeah, you need the low intensity to push the curve, right to have that. That inflection


Jared Berg  1:00:50

at a higher level. Yeah. But at some Yeah, like you’re saying those? On the contrary, if someone doesn’t do the high end work at the same, you know, the not getting that 20%, of sort of high end work sub threshold and above, then yeah, then we start to see that curve just isn’t. The lactate doesn’t go as high anymore. In this sort of, like, kind of looks blood looks nothing like that. Right? Yeah. Yeah. And so it’s, which is, you know, you got you got to do everything, just the right amounts of everything.


Chris Case  1:01:17

Exactly. And that’s exactly what we’re talking about this test helps you understand more closely predict what that everything should look like when it comes to training load. Whereas if you’re out on the road, there are some assumptions, you’re making more assumptions that you’re having to make to in order to predict that load. Yeah.


Trevor Connor  1:01:38

This is also we’re talking about the vo two max versus lactate test. And we’re getting into which what is the value of each, I tend to always have my athletes do a lactate test, and not the vo two max test. And part of the reason exactly what we’re talking about, I actually think that that Neil Henderson test protocol is very effective for seeing what’s going on above above threshold, you can find out a lot from that out on the road. Yeah, but it really doesn’t tell you anything about what’s going on below. And that the only way I have ever found to really see what’s going on with that aerobic engine, below threshold nap, and an athlete is doing a lactate test. And so that’s why I prefer it. And when we get to that, well, what about vo to max all that and like, that’d be great. It’d be nice if we could do both. But I can get most of that information on the


Jared Berg  1:02:29

road. Unless you had an athlete where you like, you know, I know we have everything dialed for for you know, sub threshold and you know, your aerobic. But what about I have unanswered questions about via to max and maybe we’re missing something here, that’s probably for you, maybe less, less than 5% of your view of revenue of people you


Trevor Connor  1:02:48

work with. Dr. Sarah Grady is the performance coach from physiologists with Team Dimension Data, he gives his thoughts on vo two max testing versus lactate testing. Somebody is going to pay to go and get tested. What’s your and we’re talking about cyclists here amateur cyclists? What’s your feeling of doing a view to max dose versus doing a lactate test?



And I would say they both have their strengths and weaknesses. It depends it would depend on what your what your focus is. So if you’re looking to quantify your, your sort of sub max performance and really get a get an idea of where your first and second lactate thresholds are, and and then training to improve that so some some of the riders that I would do, you know, scheduled scheduled lactate threshold tests over the winter where we might see you know, more endurance race changes. And then and then the vo two max test when we want to see it, you know, is there any improvement in that that high end, you know, top end performance, but for me, it’s, um, you know, I would look at look at vo two max as a sort of secondary value actually. And it’s, it’s more, you know, peak power output from, from the ramp test that I you know, is one of the big factors that I will look at when, when I am planning those those high intensity blocks, and I do want to see that high intensity performance come up. So, I didn’t say yeah, they’re both they both have their, their strengths and weaknesses, the, the weakness of the lactate threshold is that it’s very difficult to then get an A get a high intensity bet. So you’re kind of just capturing that low intensity, there are some hybrid ground protocols that you use. So you do the sort of slow ramp at the beginning. And then and then once you hit that threshold point, whether use for minimal or one of the other markers, then go up into a much more of a steeper incline to get, you know, an MP or vo two max from from that.


Trevor Connor  1:04:45

Now back to our interview with physiologist Jared Berg. All right, well, what about


Chris Case  1:04:52

combining some of these things into a single test or making a hybrid test, there’s probably different options there. And maybe could describe some of those options? Well, first off,


Jared Berg  1:05:03

you have we talked about the lactate test. But when you you can take a basic lactate test and combine, put a mask on the individual and look at metabolic information. And you can really gain a lot of useful data from that, which is start to combine, you start to get fuel utilization, you understand, you know, the same exact protocol, you understand how much how much fat versus carbohydrate somebody is burning? Where’s their fat? Max, their maximum ability to use fat? And how far does that go out into their into higher workloads? Where does the fat start to drop off? You’ll see a really, you know, usually see fat drop off when lactate starts to, to rise. Okay, how much carbohydrates are somebody burning at each individual stage? It’s very useful to Hey, you know, where’s my maximum steady state lactate, that sub threshold workload, well, how many calories in my burning of carbohydrate and you start modeling out what you need to pack in your jersey, when you’re out there for you know, these longer races?


Chris Case  1:06:05

Yeah, that was one of the powerful things that I did before doing dirty Kansa was a metabolic test, which allowed me to understand how much carbohydrate I was burning at a given intensity, knowing that the race was going to be, say, 13 hours long, yep, I knew I was going to probably average X number of watts or heart rate, that sort of thing could predict how much I needed to consume, to replenish myself, which I gotta say, for a lot of people. One of the hardest parts about these ultra endurance events is understanding nutrition, how much they need, when to get it, how to get it, those types of things, it’s, it’s difficult, you’re having to consume a lot on the bike. And that can lead to other issues that we’ve addressed in other episodes of this podcast. But if you’re able to pinpoint a number, you’re not going under that. So you’re not going to bonk six hours into halfway out of this race, you’re not over consuming it, which could lead you to have gi distress and things like that, you’re you’re giving yourself a really valuable piece of information to make some of these really long events. And it’s not just for long events. But I think particularly for these long events, a really critical piece of information. It certainly is. And I think I like to use this as kind of an example, where I get I get the opportunity to work with a lot of the top professional Ironman athletes in the world, like guys and girls who finished top 10 in Hawaii and for the world championships. And I one of the things I say is, you know, this, the amount of work that you guys can do the amount of watts that you can put out, right, and unfortunately, the amount of carbohydrates that you’re burning, right, it’s no longer a race is an eating contest.


Jared Berg  1:07:58

Right? I mean, if your body can do not hot dogs, not Joey, what’s his face? In my lab? When I see my coat it is I totally understand why they can go under eight hours for an Iron Man, I get it, because of how much how much work they can do. But how can they feel their body to do that? It’s pretty, it’s pretty interesting.


Chris Case  1:08:18

Yeah, that’s a good way of looking at it.


Jared Berg  1:08:20

And the other thing we can go back to, you know, some of us aren’t going to be doing five hour rides or you know, 200 mile dirty kanza. We’re just going to be doing, you know, one hour rides or you know, 90 minutes, but we don’t need to worry so much about replacing carbohydrates during the ride to get through it. But if we can understand how many carbohydrates and fats and total calories we burn, in maybe weight management is concerned, we can sort of understand how many carbohydrates we need to replace after workout to effectively recover, but still maybe give us a net loss in calories to help with the weight loss.


Chris Case  1:08:55

All right, let’s go through a succinct description of a hybrid protocol. Starting off,


Jared Berg  1:09:01

you’d have you’d be doing a lactate test, and you’d be doing that test. I like to do it with where you’re looking at lactate and looking at the metabolic data. Okay, so have a mask on the individual. Right? You ramp that person up through, they could be doing five minutes stages, right? Maybe we meet you know, if it’s a hybrid, I probably be less inclined to do that sort of 10 minute MSL, the maximum steady state lactate sort of glimpse, right? So that way we can get him to threshold a little bit quicker. So that way, we’re not on the bike for so long. And then one idea for hybrid is you You would then get to threshold, maybe just a little bit above threshold for just a few minutes to sort of get that curve and then we’ll just stop that test. Let them cool and they’re not going back. Well, that was hard but not too hard. Right. And then we let them rest a little bit. take the mask off. Just spit it out. And then we, after maybe 1020 minutes, put the mask back on. And then we do a one minute, a one minute ramp up starting a little bit below threshold and that way down easy again, and just take them up to vo two max. Right? That would be an example of doing a task where we do a lactate threshold, get metabolic information, even calories. So it’s like a full physiology test. Plus we throw in the whole, the whole enchilada bang at them. Yeah, yeah. Right. So that’s one way. Or we could just do a standard protocol, and then get to the end of the test, or get get above threshold. But only do that three minutes data get talked about, and then take him to someone minutes real quick and ramp them up to max.


Trevor Connor  1:10:42

So I have a question for you. Because a lot of people are going to try to find a lab near them. And the quality of labs can really vary from primary area. And I gave that example of a friend who asked me to administer as coaches tests where I would just mailed vials and one finger. Yeah, pretty much everything possible that you could do wrong. What are things? So first of all, I’m gonna say, if you are going to do a test, contact the lab apps on their protocol. Yeah, before you you pay the money and go there.


Jared Berg  1:11:19

Yeah. If there’s if the protocols to to shorter stages, or they’re doing too big a jumps, you know, yeah, or starting too high or whatever, you’re not going to get what you need.


Trevor Connor  1:11:30

So what just maybe do a quick rundown, what are things to look for to say? I think they they could do a good test, or boy, I should avoid this lab,


Jared Berg  1:11:40

I would try to, you know, figure out what kind of equipment they’re using to I mean, if if they’re using metabolic cart that is, you know, Rusty, Rusty, or, basically, it’s the it’s like a cheap, fast food cart kind of thing. Where I mean, which there Unfortunately, there are big corporate fitness chains that use metabolic cars that just are not up to standard. Right, so you’re not going to get good information from them? Are they combining a lactate with with a metabolic car? Are they just doing a metabolic cart with one that’s not really, you know, that sub one with one that sub standard? Other than that, you’ll want to look at the help, like how long are the stages are they you know, if they’re doing sort of just three minutes stages and ramping you up right away, that might just not be long enough to understand how your body responds to each workload, right. And even the lactate readings that you’re getting, are representing the stage prior, not the current stage. So that’s important, too big a jumps, you know, where you have somebody, I’m not going to give somebody who’s maybe dealing with 3040 excess pounds that they’re trying to lose, I’m not going to give them the same stage increases that I would give somebody who is, you know, like yourself, who’s, you know, the long and, you know, endurance rider who’s got a lot of miles under their under legs. So yeah, so that’s going to be important. I think, you know, making sure that you’re, that the person you’re working with, can is listening and hearing you, you know, and that’s really important with it to get a good test done.


Trevor Connor  1:13:22

Something I’m going to add to that is, if a center says they are doing x protocol, ask them for the research to back up that protocol, there is a ton of research on the different protocols and showing whether they’re effective or not effective protocols. So hopefully, these people have been doing the research and they can say, here’s what’s what’s backing, the particular protocol that we have set. That said, bear in mind, some of the protocols that are very popular for doing research studies aren’t the best protocols for figuring out what’s going on with you as an athlete. So don’t often what people do is contact their local university, which quite often universities have really good labs and they know what they’re doing. But don’t be afraid to say to them, here’s the protocol I would like to do versus the protocol that they might necessarily be used to for the research. Yeah,


Jared Berg  1:14:18

yeah. Because it could be I think, a common protocol that researches is a three minute test and I personally feel like you know, just from doing this testing as many as I have done a little bit too short to really understand right and four minutes gets closer. I love my five minutes, but I’m bought you know, I’ve is I just I’ve understood a lot for my five minute protocol, and I’ve got a chance to do a lot of it research. I’ve just I’ve got a chance to look at a lot of tests in the last several years and I feel like I really get useful information from from my protocol.


Trevor Connor  1:14:52

Yeah, I when I lived up in Canada, the protocol was three minutes with 30 watt increments and I can tell you my threshold on that protocol was about 80 watts higher than what you determine my threshold using five minutes with with me it was 25 watt increments. And as much as I would love to say the the protocol up in Canada was right. The fact of the matter is the numbers you’ve come up with match much more closely in real life


Jared Berg  1:15:24

where I train. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s what we’re looking for, we want to give you really useful, useful information from the lab that you can apply out there on the road.


Chris Case  1:15:34

So much like when you go to the doctor, there are certain things that make a good patient. I wonder if there are certain things in this context that make a good subject, things that they should think about? Or do to prepare for this test that makes your job as the conductor of the test and the interpreter of the data?



Better? Yeah. Gosh, so


Jared Berg  1:16:06

you know, a couple things is when you come in for a test, you come in rested, right? Unless you’re trying to see exactly what your physiology looks like on day four of you know, trans Rockies mountain bike stage race. Really, all we’re gonna see is you in a tired state. So you’re so caught so Come in, come in rested, come in with you know, don’t don’t load up on you know, a bunch of Froot Loops and doughnuts, the you know, two hours before the test because we’re not working to see zero fat metabolism Sure, fat metabolism is high and highly manipulatable and word I don’t know think that’s like Siri Yeah, anyway, you can manipulate your fat metabolism, right? If you don’t, if you don’t eat carbs at all for 18 hours, you want to come and see like your amazing fat metabolism capacity, then we’ll see it so eat a normal diet but I would say maybe a lower glycemic or you know, more complex carbohydrate, you know, a few hours before but not nothing really high sugar, you’re sweet. And then I’m going to see a you know, better metabolic profile, be appropriately hydrated, right? Come in with a knowledge of yourself. I mean, if you if you have numbers, like an FTP number that can help me make sure that I get the right Easy enough stages, right? And I can I can get a big enough glimpse at threshold, I might even look at that sort of that sort of SSL that sort of glimpse that maximum steady state lactate if I can know where you’re where you feel like your best 60 minute effort is. Right,


Chris Case  1:17:38

that’s helpful too. It sounds like in a lot of ways, the the person coming in to be tested wants to treat it like race day.


Trevor Connor  1:17:45

Yeah, my only thing that I have to add even though nobody has any control over this, please don’t be a spitter. The facemask has this little bit collector. And the most also the one my the one that I worked with, we did and there was nothing grosser than some people would fill it. And in the middle of the test, I had to sit there, unscrew it, which then means an unbelievable amount of spit would go all over my hands and arms. And then I have to screw on another spit collector. It’s the most disgusting thing in the world. So please don’t use better using with the master. Did


Jared Berg  1:18:25

you have more the snorkel hookah where you had your nose clip and then you breathe? Yeah, we have more the snorkel so we didn’t have the masks think where you know we’re we’re putting a mask over your nose and mouth so you can breathe out of your nose in your mouth. I think we get less of that like needing to spit


Chris Case  1:18:42

Not only is the University of Colorado sports medicine and Performance Center, top notch in terms of its staff and physiology. You’re also very high genic here.


Jared Berg  1:18:52

Oh yeah. We are very good. We do yeah, we everything gets a peroxide bad.


Trevor Connor  1:18:58

First time I ever administered a vo two max test was back when we had the big five foot oxygen collector.


Jared Berg  1:19:04

Oh, the Douglas banks.


Trevor Connor  1:19:05

Yes. Thank you. I couldn’t remember what the name of it was, ya know, the technology has come a long way.


Jared Berg  1:19:12

Yeah, you know, it’s like the same technology. But how we the same, but how we do it is so much nicer and easier. streamline. And


Chris Case  1:19:22

I guess another question that comes to my mind is, is there a preferred time of year for people to be testing? Is it going into a season when they want to dial in their zones? So they get specific numbers when they’re, you know, like, Yeah, that’s


Jared Berg  1:19:40

a great question. Yeah.


Chris Case  1:19:42

Is there? Do you see that?


Jared Berg  1:19:44

Yeah. So So say somebody just a competitive season, right. And they peaked out and now they’re resting a little bit, right. It’s October and then they’re November now like mid November to thinking, hey, I want to get back on my bike. Do I want to see them now? It’s a little premature, right? I rather see them probably about four or five weeks into their training progression, even if their training a little bit off, right, I’m fine with that, they at least I get some, I have some endurance in our legs as sort of, they’re going to have a feel for how they’re gonna respond to that, you know, progression of a test that we’re going to do. And I’m not testing them with sort of like a hybrid and hypersensitive state, where their heart rates and be real volatile and really jumpy, because they just haven’t quite got those adaptations. adaptations are going to get from a few, three, four or five weeks of training. So yeah, I would say a month more than half after getting back into it as long as two months, but any longer than then you could possibly be wasting time. Right? You don’t want to waste that, you know, 80% of your training volume that you’re trying to get right here. You don’t want to have your sub threshold work be just a little bit off.


Chris Case  1:20:57

I would assume that all that being said, if somebody never had any testing done, it doesn’t matter what time of year. It’s good. It’s a good thing for them to have, because they’ll give give them way more information than they’ve ever had before about their body. Their Yeah, their level of fitness performance. sones all that.


Trevor Connor  1:21:17

Yeah. pletely agree with Jared that if you just took your rest your fall, right or your offseason, you’re getting back on the bike. That’s not a time to get tested. Because all it’s going to tell you is yes, your attache took a break. Yeah, yeah, so better to get some time on the bike. The other thing is, if you have a target event, make sure you get tested far enough out if you test two weeks or three weeks before the event. And you’re not quite where you want to be in ask the test, or what can I do? The answer can be nothing. Yeah, there’s


Chris Case  1:21:49

no interest to apply that information.


Jared Berg  1:21:52

Yeah. And so I would say, yeah, that’s the first time I would say testing in a season would be a month and a half after getting back into writing, or consistent again. And then I would say, probably between five and eight weeks out from the target of a target event. That way we can get really good substrate utilization numbers, right. And then also dial in paces. It’s, you know, if we can figure out what’s the best lactate level for someone to hold for a three hour race, I can I can help figure out what watts that would be. And then if we or even the heart rate, and then if we go in, and you’re like three weeks from the event, and you’re in your watts went up, like by 15 watts, which is good training progression, right? Then once you’re that close to the race, then you can target watts, right? Because Yeah, targeting heart rate in a race. Yeah, you can you can overshoot in the beginning, right? And then plus some heart rates, because car race can be a little bit elevated with, you know, nerves, nerves, adrenaline, yeah. epinephrine, norepinephrine, all those hormones can raise heart rates. But yeah, I would say again, seven to eight weeks out, or five day weeks, that would be awesome. And then, you know, maybe one time in the season where we know that we’re kind of close to peak fitness. So we can see, you know, basically, I think two to three tests a year would be about, you know, ideal. One minute.



I think so. I think we’re ready for one minutes. Jared, are you ready?



I don’t know. You’re in?


Trevor Connor  1:23:26

You have he is not over?


Chris Case  1:23:28

Easy, obvious now. Returning candidates. No, this is when we take all of the many thousands of tests you’ve ever done. We’ve take this whole discussion. We roll it into 60 seconds and you give people the essence of this episode. Your take home,


Trevor Connor  1:23:45

what was the name of that dog in American fires? Eddie, right. Maybe it was Eddie, pretend Eddie, Eddie’s Jason, you got one minute, give your adaline A he’s gonna eat you.


Jared Berg  1:23:58

Like one of the really exciting things for me about doing a test, especially in the lab here with all my equipment and such in my tools, as I can help people sort of understand their strengths and their weaknesses. Right. And I make it my goal to find weaknesses like where somebody is like, like, you know what you really are doing amazing, you’re amazing, you know, athlete and you’re getting performances out there like your 20 minute FTP is great and your race results are good. But you know how much you’re missing by not addressing this specific area where you’re just working a little bit too hard. You’re not able to recover in between workouts. And I mean, if you’re already this good, think about how much better you could be if we just dialed in just right. And I have the opportunity to help people find that. One of my few my biggest strengths as a physiologist, I can help people understand how not to get in the way in themselves. right because training Is this huge and, you know, like, intense cycle of stress, rest, nutrition, you know, recovery recovery modalities and stressing again, right? And so if we can optimize that through through proper training, through, you know, understanding how our body, you know, is burning calories, how it’s dealing with, you know, what kind of stress is going through, we can get the proper rest, it just makes everything happen at such a higher, more optimal level, and we can, you know, just help people take, you know, their potential and just make it so much greater.


Chris Case  1:25:39

That’s gonna be rewarding, too. It is.


Jared Berg  1:25:42

Yeah, I so that’s one reason I love my job so much is I get to help find people find your way.


Chris Case  1:25:49

Awesome. Trevor, I know you are a huge fan of laboratory testing physiological tests, and you’ve subjected yourself to many over the years, you’ve had people like Jared, poking your ear lobes and your fingertips for blood, your fan, so tell us why you think everybody else should be a fan of this testing. And remember, at ease right behind you to


Trevor Connor  1:26:18

what I’m really happy to see as people are starting to understand that there’s far more to an athlete than just FTP. And so I actually am a big fan of these, these tests where you do the one minute, the five minute the 20 minute, and recognizing that there is a profile to the athlete. What I disagree with, or where we haven’t gone far enough is I’ve heard some coaches and people out there say, Well, everything below threshold, we’re all the same. I don’t agree with that at all. I think there is a lot of subtlety, I think there is a lot of information to be found about an athlete in that profile below threshold. And that’s something you can’t do on the road. And that’s where to me, you’re really opening up the hood and looking at the engine. And that is why I personally if I can get my athletes in for a lactate test, that’s where I can really see what’s going on with them and where I think we can make some of the biggest improvements.





Chris Case  1:27:22

Well, one of the things that I don’t think has been explicitly stated throughout this podcast is the fact that this is really fascinating and fun. And it helps performance. Yes, it gives us this data, which is important for training loads and stuff. But I think as a subject going through this testing, is incredible. It’s an incredible experience. It’s kind of brings your mindset about your dedication, or just interest in your sport to an entirely new level, you get a understanding of the science beneath the hood, we’re talking about looking beneath the hood. It’s all science, it’s chemistry and, and biology that’s taking place and to peek into that world is amazing. And that’s why I think as a subject, it’s a fun experience. And it’s a fascinating experience. So that that’s why I’ve really appreciated the times when I’ve been able to come over here and do this testing myself. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk at Fast Talk Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Google Play and check out our new channel on libsyn. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment where you can become a fan of Fast Talk on slash real fast dot labs on Slash fast underscore labs underscore real and on slash fast dot labs. Now there are a lot of dashes, dots underscores in there, but let’s hope you keep it straight and follow us Fast Talk is a joint production between velonews and Fast Talk Labs. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talker are those of the individual for Jared Berg, Kiran O’Grady, Paolo Saldana and Trevor Connor. I’m Chris case. Thanks for listening.