Aet Lab test best protocol

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #49613
    Blake Bolton
    Participant

    I’m getting ready to take an AeT gas exchange test at the local university a week from today. I’m primarily training for alpine rock and mountaineering and I know from reading the site that it’s recommended to do the test on incline for the treadmill if you’re training for climbing.

    However, I don’t always train on an incline. Depending on time/weather I either do a lot of flat running, hike the local foothills with a weighted pack, or occasionally an incline treadmill. If I do the incline treadmill at the gym, I try to do it with a weighted pack as well because without it, to get the desired heart rate, I have to move too fast and it wrecks my calves. I had achilles tendonitis last year which has made that area more sensitive.

    So I guess my question is should I test on a flat treadmill or if I need to do incline, would doing the test with a weighted pack negatively impact the test?

    Thank you in advance for your help.

  • Moderator
    Reed on #49655

    The primary purpose of the test should be to try and identify the heart rate that corresponds with your aerobic threshold and perhaps also your anaerobic threshold. If you usually run on flat and do the test on an incline, there will probably be some differences in your efficiency (running economy), but I don’t think that should be a very large factor. I’d suggest that you focus on having a slow, easy, lengthy warmup (20-30 minutes from walking up to a light jog) before the test. Testing stages should be 3-5 minutes.

    Running with a weighted pack can be a recipe for injury. It sounds like you might have some ankle / calf issues to try and work on. Do you have enough ankle flexibility? Running or hiking up an incline, if you’re only transmitting force through your toes or the ball of your foot because your heel isn’t touching the ground can be tough on calves.

    Participant
    frnkr on #49679

    In my testing protocol we first do 15% incline treadmill to the AeT then decrease the incline to 0.5% and do test by running. We don’t test AnT with incline as it might interfere the results of the flat part of the test.

    Between the two I walk slowly 10-15 min to get lactate down. I usually get 8-10 bpm higher AeT by running.

    Basically the protocol is modified triathlon test where biking is substituted with incline treadmill 🙂

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #49712

    Blake:

    Not sure if you’ve read my “It’s a Jungle out there” article on testing labs. If not I recommend you do. Not all Gas Exchange Tests are the same. To find AeT you want to do the test fasted. And you need to have long stages of at least 3min. Ramping up too fast will miss the AeT. Having carbs on board will distort your fuel utilization ratio (fat/carbs). Most labs will want to do a maxVO2 test and try to capture AeT and AnT on the way up to max. To find your actual max you need to be well fueled and not fasted. You need those carbs to power the high intensity needed to produce maxVO2. So, these are very different test protocols and can’t be combined. These things are more important than the grade etc. Without the above conditions being satisfied either test will not yield the results you want and you’d be better off just doing the simple HR Drift test even though it won’t net the full results a proper metabolic efficiency test will.

    For mountaineers a steep treadmill hiking test is best. If you need to go from walking to running that too will mess up the results because running is less economical than walking so you’ll see a big jump in HR when you switch.

    Scott

    Scott

    Participant
    Blake Bolton on #49733

    Thank you everybody for your responses. I appreciate the information. This will be my third training cycle and my third time using the university for this test. The last two times they have followed thee protocol that Scott had described.

    For clarification, I’m not running with a weighted pack but walking with it at max incline on a treadmill or hiking with it.

    Would doing the lab test with a weighted pack impact the results negatively?

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #49944

    For clarification, I’m not running with a weighted pack but walking with it at max incline on a treadmill or hiking with it.

    What is “max incline”? That could be the calf issue. I wouldn’t train above a 25% grade (~14 degrees) unless it were for a specific intensity goal (which general base training doesn’t have).

    Also, going faster for the desired HR is the goal. Most base training should be speed-focused, and then the “hypergravity” (ME) work can target a specific goal via intensity.

    Would doing the lab test with a weighted pack impact the results negatively?

    Absolutely. Hopefully you didn’t do this or the test won’t be helpful. Extra weight will make the test more muscular than cardiovascular. You want to test the latter as accurately as possible.

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #49945

    As a related side note: Speed is the ultimate goal. If you go faster, you can use a lighter pack. So training should focus on speed and excess weight is only objective-specific.

    Participant
    Blake Bolton on #49960

    Scott, thank you for your timely response. I’m taking the test in a few hours from now so this is very helpful.

    Thank you everyone for the responses and information.

    Participant
    maforbes2000 on #50091

    Hi Scott,

    Where do I find the article that you have referenced, “It’s A Jungle Out There”?

    Keymaster
    Participant
    Blake Bolton on #50257

    So last Thursday, I took the test and my results were surprisingly low compared to prior tests in 2020 and 2019. For reference, my test in 2019, my first year training, resulted in an Aet of 142. In 2020 it resulted in 162. This last test resulted in an AeT of 130.

    With that result, I started to think I had been over training but I was always doing my workouts with a chest strap HRM and kept it mostly under my Aet. Sometimes I would go over to see how it felt but I was always within nose breathing or conversational pace. I was also doing weighted pack hikes with a sandbag, my hr was almost always within nose breathing or conversational pace. My legs would sometimes get tired but for the most part they felt good so I don’t think I was doing full ME workouts but maybe I was? I haven’t been the most consistent with training the last 6 months I’ll admit but I’ve made sure to do aerobic based workouts at least 1-2 a week to help maintain on top of at least 2 days of climbing at the gym.

    However, wondering how I got such a low result I did some research on here and realized that our test protocol flawed. Thankfully the university is letting me redo the test at no cost again this upcoming Thursday. During the test we had changed not only speed but incline as well. Would this potentially result in such a low result?

    So with the test coming up, again, on Thursday I’m left wondering what’s the best option for me for this test. Test flat or test incline?

    If I test flat, will the results vary significantly from if I test on an incline?

    If I test on an incline, as stated up thread, my calves get wrecked when doing medium to fast paced incline on a treadmill. If I just power through the calf burn, will that negatively impact my results? I know the aerobic system has a greater ability to clear out lactate so I’m wondering if my calves burning means that I’ll be outside of my AeT? I don’t have calf fatigue issues outside on the trails or in the mountains, even in steep terrain but only on the treadmill. I think the pure consistency of the grade on a treadmill is the issue for me. There may be ankle flexibility issues there as well.

    If it’s easier to go over test results and TP info to get to the bottom of all of this with a phone consultation, I’m happy to pay for that as well. I just want to make sure that I’m testing and training properly for the upcoming season. Any info you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    Keymaster
    Scott Semple on #50424

    For reference, my test in 2019, my first year training, resulted in an Aet of 142. In 2020 it resulted in 162. This last test resulted in an AeT of 130.

    * Was the test protocol identical across all three tests?
    * Did you warm up gradually for at least 15 minutes before starting the test? (Too short a warm up will make the test more anaerobic.)
    * How long were the stages? (Shorter than three minutes per stage will make the test more anaerobic.)
    * What was the increase in speed per stage? (More than 15-30″ per km will make the test more anaerobic.)
    * Was incline increased along with speed in all tests? (Increasing both speed and incline creates an exponential increase in load, and that will make the test more anaerobic.)

    I haven’t been the most consistent with training the last 6 months I’ll admit but I’ve made sure to do aerobic based workouts at least 1-2 a week to help maintain on top of at least 2 days of climbing at the gym.

    This could be a factor. A big drop in volume will make metabolism more anaerobic. Thankfully, your base will come back quicker the second time. Climbing sessions will have zero benefits for general aerobic work.

    During the test we had changed not only speed but incline as well. Would this potentially result in such a low result?

    Yes, it will increase the load exponentially. Using calories as a proxy for power, you can estimate the actual load changes per stage: https://www.outsideonline.com/2315751/ultimate-backpacking-calorie-estimator

    So with the test coming up, again, on Thursday I’m left wondering what’s the best option for me for this test. Test flat or test incline?

    Tough one. Incline is more sport-specific, but your calf issues are a limiter. Maybe split the difference and test on an incline that won’t affect your calves.

    If I test flat, will the results vary significantly from if I test on an incline?

    Perhaps. It depends on your running economy.

    There may be ankle flexibility issues there as well.

    That’s my guess too.

    If it’s easier to go over test results and TP info to get to the bottom of all of this with a phone consultation, I’m happy to pay for that as well.

    That’s certainly an option. You can set one up by emailing coach@uphillathlete.com.

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