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Old 04-25-10, 07:18 AM   #1
Don in Austin
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Bicycle boot camp fitness assessment -- bogus measurements??

Yesterday I attended this: http://www.austincyclecamp.com/performance_tests.html

While I did receive a comprehensive computer-generated report and set of recommendations I feel the input they were based on was dubious science, to put it kindly.

To determine VO2 max they had you sit in your car and relax wearing a Polar heart monitor for three minutes. This monitor has a program which allegedly extrapolates a VO2 max value based on the extent your heart beat varies during this period. Huh??? What about lung capacity and all sorts of other variables. To me this seems like a gimmick Polar is promoting with little or no scientific basis.

Body fat % was "measured" based on an electrical measurement between the feet. Is this not well known to be worthless? My understanding is levels of hydration and skin condition can render this test wildly inconsistent.

We wore the heart monitors on a 3 miles time trial and my MHR was determined to be 168 (well over the worthless 220 - your age formula as I am 64 years old). But, in order to attempt the best time on the course, I evidently did not push myself to the same limit as I did when I once observed 173 on a heart monitor topping out a 20% hill. And I doubt that 173 is my MHR -- I suspect it would be even higher if I were fleeing a snarling pit bull!

Based on this 168 MHR I was advised to spend about 40% of my weekly training time in a 101 -118 heart rate zone. I am dubious about this as that doesn't even feel like exercise to me

Before I write these folks a letter I would be interested in feedback. I don't think they set out to rip me off, but I do think they were a little naive and have been bamboozled by Polar. But if you wish to defend their program I will take that under advisement, of course.

Thanks....Don in Austin
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Old 04-25-10, 08:26 AM   #2
Richard Cranium
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To me this seems like a gimmick Polar is promoting with little or no scientific basis.
I would agree with your summation.

Unfortunately, real "science" involves "repeatable" experiential references to support theoretical approaches to human conditioning and performance. I don't put a lot of stock in any "single testing" protocol that claims to derive some perfected approach to training- even if its conducted on state-of-the-art equipment in laboratory-like conditions.

You, yourself are in the best position to use HR feedback or other instruments, like a Power Tap to devise theoretical training approaches. And understand these feedback systems only become valuable as you attain more experience through trial and error. (unfortunately - you just did some of that work)
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Old 04-25-10, 05:52 PM   #3
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Based on this 168 MHR I was advised to spend about 40% of my weekly training time in a 101 -118 heart rate zone. I am dubious about this as that doesn't even feel like exercise to me
This does all seem pretty bogus. However, a lot of people, including myself, are surprised that zone 2 and low zone 3 may not really feel like work at all, but most training plans include a fair amount of volume here. Your HR zones should probably be adjusted to some well-known protocol.

The idea is to separate your goals. On days when you're riding for endurance, don't hammer on false flats just because you like to see the speedometer over a certain number. Keep it moderate. On days when you are set to go hard, really go at it.

A lot of us spend too much time in the "kind of hard" area. The problem here is that if you train the same way all the time, you stop getting results. It's also neither that intense, nor is the effort long-lived enough top provide a good stimulus in either direction.
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Old 04-25-10, 09:50 PM   #4
Don in Austin
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Originally Posted by tadawdy View Post
This does all seem pretty bogus. However, a lot of people, including myself, are surprised that zone 2 and low zone 3 may not really feel like work at all, but most training plans include a fair amount of volume here. Your HR zones should probably be adjusted to some well-known protocol.

The idea is to separate your goals. On days when you're riding for endurance, don't hammer on false flats just because you like to see the speedometer over a certain number. Keep it moderate. On days when you are set to go hard, really go at it.

A lot of us spend too much time in the "kind of hard" area. The problem here is that if you train the same way all the time, you stop getting results. It's also neither that intense, nor is the effort long-lived enough top provide a good stimulus in either direction.
Well..so far I am making steady progress with my own home-brew program. Some weekends I will ride 50-60 miles in one day for endurance. Even for that long, though, I am well above the 101-118 range the majority of the time. When I practice hills with my partner after work, we go out for about an hour trying to make our hearts jump out of our chests. The ride we usually take does get easier on the way back for cool-down. Its working for me.

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