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A physiological assessment, or 'lab test', is a valuable tool for taking the guesswork out of your training plan. Elite athletes in cycling, running and triathlon will undergo this sort of testing at key times during there season to provide information that will guide their training for the coming block. With the modern accessibility of power meters it's easy to get a measure of performance in the field and for runners race times have always provided similar information but a lab test is aimed at looking 'under the bonnet' on your performance. By understanding the physiology that underpins this performance we can begin to look for areas that are in need of improvement and thus tailor your training directly to your needs. When coaches and sports scientists talk about individualisation this is exactly what they mean. With access to this sort of data you can be confident that any training is targeted at the areas where the biggest gains can be made.

What will you get from a lab test

As an endurance athlete, the physiological basis of your event is very well understood. Your performance is almost entirely governed by your maximal aerobic capacity, fractional utilisation (i.e. what percentage of that max you can sustain) and economy/efficiency. There is more information in our factsheet entitled Determinants of endurance performance. Our recommended test protocol for endurance athletes involves a lactate threshold test  (which gives a measure of fractional utilisation) and a VO2max test (or ramp test) which gives a measure of max aerobic capacity and efficiency. Based on this assessment we can then provide:

Training zones

Training zones are based around the key physiological parameters that we measure during your lab visit as described in our factsheet The physiological basis of the training zones. By measuring these parameters directly you can be confident that the zones we derive are accurate and trustworthy. Zones derived from max heart rates or threshold tests are estimates so if you want extra confidence in your training then a lab test offers that security.

Strengths/weaknesses

By completing both a lactate threshold test and a VO2max test, we get a broad sweep of your physiology from a very low intensity right up to your maximum aerobic capacity. By comparing your results across such a wide range we can identify which areas are relative strengths and which are weaknesses. One use of this is suggesting events that are best suited to your unique physiological make up but more commonly we can use the information to guide your training building towards a target event.

Lab report

All of this information is presented in a thorough report, explaining what tests you did and why, your results, how your data compares to your peers and the maximum values ever recorded, some guidance on targets based around what you hope to achieve in your event and also the kind or percentage change that is achievable in your given timescale. Finally we offer some suggestions on where your training should be targeted.

Training plan

A lab test is a great experience purely from an academic view of how you compare to the full range of athletes who have undertaken a similar assessment. Where a lab test becomes really valuable though is when we take the information we have gathered and apply it to making your training more effective. As such we offer a 12 week bespoke training plan as part of the service.

Follow up consultation

Finally, we will always check in after a few weeks to make sure you fully understand everything in the lab report and training plan and to make sure that you have all the information to put into practise what we've learned.

The appliance of science

As both sports scientists and coaches we are ideally placed to provide the scientific service but perhaps more importantly translate the findings into a format that is easy to understand and has clear relevance to your training and target event. Beyond that, we can then use that information to inform a positive change in your preparations and help you apply the findings into your training plan.

For our lab testing services we make use of the University of Brighton laboratories in the Sport and Service Management Department, Eastbourne (BN22  ). The labs are BASES accredited and are among the best equipped in the UK. Beyond the standard LT and VO2max test protocol we can also offer a full range of other physiological tests and screening services, so please contact us if you have specific needs or enquiries.