WHY METABOLIC TESTING?
No one likes wasting time and this is especially true in the gym. One of the most common questions I hear from people is “do you think that my program is good?”
What I can tell everyone who goes to the gym is that something is always better than nothing. If you are hitting the gym 3-5x/week you are on the right track towards improving not only your waistline but also your general health and energy levels. But how do you know if what you are doing is actually good for your goals? Are you working out hard enough? Or what is actually very common is people often work out too hard!!! Don’t let that be you!
Every person who works out has goldilocks intensities that they should be working out at. In the eighties this was called the “fat burning zone”. Our knowledge of how the body works since then has improved to the point that we now understand that there isn’t just one “zone” a person needs to be in to improve their body composition but actually a variety of zones that are specific to each individual, making it incredibly hard to give accurate advice to an individual that will guarantee results.
At Invictus Fitness, we pride ourselves on our assessment process that members get as a part of their membership. One of the most important aspects of this process is the metabolic testing that we do.
At Invictus Fitness we take the time with every member to actually test their metabolic heart rate zones in order to ensure we as Fitness Professionals have all in the information we need to serve every client to the absolute fullest. We want to make sure that you are not only working out hard enough but that you aren’t overdoing it as well and we are always progressing in a healthy way.
WHAT DO WE MEASURE WITH METABOLIC TESTING
This leads to the obvious question of what are we measuring?
Our metabolic test at its base measures heart rate, oxygen, and CO2. We take these measurements as we gradually increase exercise from very easy to a feeling of exercising at a moderate to high intensity. This whole process is called a Metabolic Efficiency Assessment.
What information do we get from measuring those different biomarkers? Heart rate is measured because your heart and lungs work together in a predictable way (when one works harder, the other works harder) and it is impractical to measure your oxygen and CO2 all the time so we measure your heart rate as an indicator of what is going on with your metabolism.
We measure oxygen because cells need oxygen to turn fat into energy – called aerobic metabolism. For every 1 litre of oxygen a person uses, they burn 5kcals, therefore the amount a person inhales can tell us accurately how many calories a person is burning. This means that if you improve your lung capacity, you have the ability to burn more calories overall in your workouts!
Finally we measure CO2 because we don’t just burn fat, we have other energy sources. Whenever we start moving we burn calories from both fat and carbohydrate. As exercise intensity increases, people are forced to burn more calories from carbohydrates. While walking might not burn a ton of calories overall, it burns a lot from fat. On the flip side, sprinting burns a TON of calories but almost all of them come from carbohydrates.
So what does all that have to do with CO2? CO2 is the byproduct of both aerobic (with oxygen) and Anaerobic (without oxygen) exercise. However, we produce much less CO2 from aerobic exercise than we do from anaerobic exercise. Remember that by measuring oxygen we can determine HOW many calories a person is burning. By measuring the amount of CO2 a person is producing, we can determine the PERCENTAGE of calories that are coming from fat vs carbohydrates.
Bottom line is we measure oxygen and CO2 to determine how many total calories you are burning from fat and carbohydrates at different intensities to ensure we have you exercising you appropriately by associating that information with your heart rate and keeping track of your heart rate as you exercise.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH THAT INFORMATION?
All this information gives us a few very specific points that we organize our training around. They are the anaerobic threshold and the aerobic threshold.
The aerobic threshold is the intensity that a person could maintain for an incredibly long time – think day hikes or marathons. At this intensity, a person doesn’t burn a huge amount of calories but they actually burn more calories from body fat than at any other intensity! This is why you see people at the gym walking at incline for hours. The goal of this workout is to make a person better at burning fat in general so when they exercise at higher intensities they burn a higher percentage of their calories from body fat
The anaerobic threshold on the other hand, is the intensity that a person switches to burning almost all their calories from carbohydrates.
By training just below anaerobic threshold, a person will be able to burn the most amount of total calories over an hour to a two hour workout, making their workout incredibly effective. They will however burn a large percentage of those calories from carbohydrates, sometimes upwards of 90%. While it isn’t bad to burn calories from carbohydrates, the goal of this workout would be to burn as many total calories as possible
By training above anaerobic threshold, a person is 100% anaerobic and is trying to train their body to get better at working at higher intensities. They won’t be able to maintain the intensity for longer than a minute or two and therefore will need to do interval training to get a good workout. Since all their calories are coming from carbohydrates, the goal of this type of workout is to make a person more athletic, thus making them burn more calories at lower intensities, like just below anaerobic threshold or at aerobic threshold.
Armed with this information at Invictus Fitness, we can give our clients perfect exercise intensity recommendations that are tailored to their individual metabolism, allowing them to burn not only the most amount of calories overall, but the most amount from fat, and improve their athletic abilities to get continued improvements!
At Invictus Fitness, we believe in metabolic training so much that we incorporate it into every class we teach! We know that trying to not only determine what your metabolism is but how to implement that information can be confusing so we do the leg work for you and monitor every individuals metabolism during class so we know we are always getting the best possible workout for that day so there is never a need to ask “is my program good”
Thank you for reading! If you found this information to be helpful we would love to hear from you! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule a consultation or just send us an email letting us know what you think of the information!