AeT test issues

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #32137
    Flatlander
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    I’m trying to get started on the Uphill Athlete 8-week Basic Mountaineering Plan, but I can’t seem to nail down my AeT despite taking the treadmill test four times over the past two weeks. The first test’s results are probably invalid due to a delay of several minutes or so between the end of my warm-up and commencement of the 60-minute test, but here are the results anyway:

    Date 11/4/2019
    Start time 8:55 PM
    After work? YES
    Test machine Precor Treadmill
    HRM Bontrager Chest Strap
    Warm-up (minutes) 15:00
    At test commencement:
    HR <I didn’t record it>
    Treadmill Incline 9.0
    Treadmill Speed (mph) 3.5
    HR, 1st 30 min. of test:
    Average 121
    Minimum 101
    Maximum 126
    HR, 2nd 30 min. of test:
    Average 126
    Minimum 123
    Maximum 129
    Cardiac Drift 4.03%
    Nose-breathing 100%

    I retook the test one week later, but the Cardiac Drift result (2.24%) was too low. Here are the results:

    Date 11/11/2019
    Start time 9:38 PM
    After work? YES
    Test machine Precor Treadmill
    HRM Bontrager Chest Strap
    Warm-up (minutes) 15:00
    At test commencement:
    HR 121
    Treadmill Incline 10.0
    Treadmill Speed (mph) 2.8
    HR, 1st 30 min. of test:
    Average 128
    Minimum 119
    Maximum 132
    HR, 2nd 30 min. of test:
    Average 130
    Minimum 127
    Maximum 135
    Cardiac Drift 2.24%
    Nose-breathing 100%

    Since the Cardiac Drift result for my second test was too low, for the third test I raised the treadmill speed from 2.8 mph to 2.9 mph and my initial heart rate from 121 bpm to 129 bpm–and my Cardiac Drift result DROPPED to 1.05%! Here are the results:

    Date 11/13/2019
    Start time 9:38 PM
    After work? NO
    Test machine Precor Treadmill
    HRM Bontrager Chest Strap
    Warm-up (minutes) 15:00
    At test commencement:
    HR 129
    Treadmill Incline 10.0
    Treadmill Speed (mph) 2.9
    HR, 1st 30 min. of test:
    Average 133
    Minimum 129
    Maximum 137
    HR, 2nd 30 min. of test:
    Average 135
    Minimum 130
    Maximum 138
    Cardiac Drift 1.05%
    Nose-breathing 100%

    Confused, I took a fourth test planning to raise my initial heart rate to 135 bpm, but I only got it up to 127 bpm, down from 129 bpm for the last test. But I did increase my test speed from 2.9 mph to 3.3 mph, and my Cardiac Drift result increased to 4.41%. Here are the results:

    Date 11/16/2019
    Start time 6:12 PM
    After work? NO
    Test machine Precor Treadmill
    HRM Bontrager Chest Strap
    Warm-up (minutes) 15:00
    At test commencement:
    HR 127
    Treadmill Incline 10.0
    Treadmill Speed (mph) 3.3
    HR, 1st 30 min. of test:
    Average 136
    Minimum 127
    Maximum 142
    HR, 2nd 30 min. of test:
    Average 142
    Minimum 139
    Maximum 146
    Cardiac Drift 4.41%
    Nose-breathing 100%

    I’m really anxious to get started on my training plan. Do I need to do another test to get a cardiac drift result closer to 5%, or would it be safe to assume my AeT is 130 bpm (or 125 bpm) for purposes of my training plan?

    By the way, I am a 61-year-old Midwestern flatlander who bikes a little in the flatlands, plays a little basketball, and hikes and snowshoes a bit in the Colorado Rockies–which is to say I highly doubt that I am aerobically fit (hence the training program). On the other hand, my job requires me to be on my feet 7.5 hours per day, 5 days per week, and I have snowshoed up to 15.6 miles in one day in Rocky Mountain National Park, so I’m not a total couch potato.

    Thanks in advance for helping me get started on my training plan.

  • Participant
    depeyster on #32140

    Flatlander,

    Here’s what struck me upon reading your well-documented account.

    You almost always have a wider min-max range on stage 1 than on stage 2.

    I am three years older than you and my personal experience has been that when I do controlled tests, I need to do a very long warm-up if I want stable HR readings. Typically that means 25 minutes. I’d be curious to hear what Scott Johnston thinks of this.

    That said, all the UA professionals had made clear that it makes no sense to worry about 4.41% vs 5%. If you were a little over 5%, you’d want to go down. But 4.41 is as good as 5.

    Participant
    Flatlander on #32178

    Hi depeyster,

    Thanks for responding to my post. Good catch on your observations regarding the ranges of my HRs in the first and second halves of my tests. I included that data to try to capture something I saw in graphs of my HRs—they tend to trend upward for the first five minutes of each test (and after the warm-up period), then settle into a relatively narrow zone for the remainder of the test. I suspect, as you do, that my warm-up should be longer than 15 minutes (I was thinking maybe 20 minutes) to allow my HR to stabilize before commencing my test. Tonight I’m going to recalculate the cardiac risk numbers for tests 2-4 using minutes 20-75 just see if that has any meaningful impact on the results. I’ll post them when they’re ready.

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #32227

    Flatlander;

    Many factors can affect the outcome of these tests. The single biggest one is your recovery state. We are complex organisms with widely varying responses (from day to day) to similar inputs. Fro time to time we see results that we know are bogus. The best you can do is to try to control the test as well as possible. depeyster’s good eye noted that your HR range was rather large in the first half of the test. This would indicate not enough warm up.

    Scott.

    Participant
    Flatlander on #32239

    Thanks, Scott. Here’s some data that would seem to confirm that I need a longer warm-up before commencing the AeT test:

    Date 11/11/2019
    HR @ 20:00 minutes 121
    Avg HR, minutes 20:01-47:50 129
    Avg HR, minutes 47:51-75:00 130
    Adjusted Cardiac Drift 1.1%

    Date 11/13/2019
    HR @ 20:00 minutes 131
    Avg HR, minutes 20:01-47:50 134
    Avg HR, minutes 47:51-75:00 135
    Adjusted Cardiac Drift 0.5%

    Date 11/16/2019
    HR @ 20:00 minutes 134
    Avg HR, minutes 20:01-47:50 137
    Avg HR, minutes 47:51-75:00 142
    Adjusted Cardiac Drift 3.7%

    These results were derived by using the same data from Tests 2-4, but adding 5 minutes to the warm-up session and subtracting 5 minutes from the test session. The results from the tests on 11/4 and 11/13 demonstrate that after steadily increasing for 20 minutes, my HR remained in a very narrow range for the next 55 minutes with very little cardiac drift. The test on 11/16 did indicate some cardiac drift at 3.7%, versus 4.4% calculated using a 15-minute warm-up session and 60-minute test session.

    Based on the revised results for the 11/16, I believe my AeT is somewhere in the 135-140 range. Where would you suggest I set it based on these results and what you know of my age and (de)conditioning? Or would you suggest I retake the test using a warm-up period that’s long enough for me to get my initial HR closer to 140?

    Thanks so much for your assistance.

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #32276

    Some days your AeT will be 140 and other days it’ll be 135 or less based on your recovery state. Learning to recognize fatigue during the warm up will be the best way to adjust on the fly. If 140 come easily, and you feel like you’ve got wings on your feet then that’s a good day to do intensity or to keep HR right at 140 to maximize aerobic benefits. If on the other hand you feel like you’re working harder than normal just to hit 135 that’s a sign that you need more recovery and should train in Z1 and or shorten the workout.

    A handy test is: Can you get up tomorrow and do the same workout you did today, and then again the next day and the next? If so you are training under your AeT.

    Scott

    Participant
    derekosborne22 on #32296

    Hi Flatlander,

    We’re of similar age (I’m 2 years older) and started on Uphill Athlete training beginning of Sept this year. It might be worth sharing my starting point and approach as it’s quite different from yours.

    Like you, I was active but not massively so, and mostly in the traditional Z3/Z4 HR zones, sometimes pushing into Z5 … hard must be better approach. Z1 and Z2 were not actively used therefore I considered myself aerobically deficient as the starting point. As I had no idea what my AeT was I simply used the formula 180 less my age, then less another 5 for ADS which gave me a starting AeT of 112. I did a drift test – drift was 7%, so dropped AeT to 110 and started 4 weeks Z2 training increasing duration from 6 – 9.5 hours and retested – drift had reduced to under 3% so based on some advice on this forum moved AeT to 120 and did another 4 weeks at new Z2 continuing to increase weekly load by roughly 30minutes a week. Retested again and drift was around 5% so held AeT and am currently coming to end of month 3 with next test due next week.

    So, a couple of observations:

    1) My starting HR was much lower than yours with what sounds like a similar background, and we’re similar age. I know everyone is different but the difference if fairly big.

    2) If I understand the physiology correctly, the further above your AeT you get the more your anaerobic process kicks in, the less linear your HR drift becomes, and therefore the drift test results become increasingly meaningless. In your last test for example, if it was me working at those HR’s I’d be getting close to my LT (Lactic Threshold) so my anaerobic system would be very actively engaged negating any drift test results. Scott – if I have this all wrong please jump in and correct me.

    Not sure if this helps, but it might be worth you doing a test at a much lower HR (maybe 115) and seeing how linear the drift is.

    On a final and positive point, whilst the first month for me was frustrating slow in order to stay in Z2, after 11 weeks I’m moving across the 3000ft hills at much the same speed as in the past, but with greater ease, less stops, and with my HR rarely above 120 (my AeT). Whilst my AeT is not increasing very quickly, my treadmill pace at same HR in Z2 has increased quite a bit – the fitness benefit is significant. I’ve just had two consecutive days in the hill (almost 8000ft vertical) that were almost effortless and I could have easily gone out again today – zero obvious fatigue. Net, I’m sticking with it …. it’s working for me.

    Derek

    Participant
    Flatlander on #32306

    Thanks for your replies to my latest post, Scott and Derek. Scott, it appears you agree with my plan to use an AeT in the 135-140 range. But Derek, you seem to be suggesting that my AeT might be much lower–and I have had the same nagging suspicion. An initial AeT of 135-140 bpm just seems like it might be too high for a 61-year-old deconditioned athlete, doesn’t it? And yet the original and adjusted results for Tests 2-4 clearly indicate that my AeT is higher than 121 (Test 2), 131 (Test 3) and 134 (Test 4). Hmm. Could I be aerobically deficient but generating these results in Zone 3? If so, is the Heart Rate Drift Test really a valid method for determining AeT for all athletes? Or is something else going on here?

    I need to start training this week in order to be prepared for some upcoming winter trips. Hopefully I can figure this out before I start so I can maximize the return on my training time by training as close to, but not above, my AeT. Thanks.

    • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Flatlander.
    Participant
    derekosborne22 on #32312

    Hi Flatlander,

    Hope you work it out, but I think searching for it with a (much) lower HR rate will help.

    The well respected New Zealand endurance coach Jon Ackland always emphasised the importance of LSD in training for endurance – Long Slow Distance – shame on me that I’d forgotten this over the years. It’s totally consistent with Uphill Athlete’s philosophy, albeit UA have raised it to a more rigorous level with the use of the AeT and LT markers.

    I have the luxury of time in that my main “event” is not till April 2020 so can afford to build up slowly, but even with that slow build up and at low AeT, I’ve had enough of a gain in approx 10 weeks that I could probably do it now. If you have only 8 weeks to go then once you’ve nailed your AeT you need to try and get 12+ hours a week in that Z2 to maximise the gains in that relatively short period (or purchase a UA plan appropriate to what your goals are).

    All the best,
    Derek

    Participant
    Flatlander on #33191

    Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to close the loop on this post and thank everyone for sharing their thoughts with me.

    I ran one final test and here are the results:

    Date 11/26/2019
    Start time 8:51 PM
    After work? YES
    Test machine Precor Treadmill
    HRM Bontrager Chest Strap
    Warm-up (minutes) 25:00
    At test commencement:

    • HR 131
    • Treadmill Incline 10.0
    • Treadmill Speed (mph) 3.5

    HR, 1st 30 min. of test:

    • Average 135
    • Minimum 129
    • Maximum 138

    HR, 2nd 30 min. of test:

    • Average 139
    • Minimum 135
    • Maximum 143

    Cardiac Drift 3.30%
    Nose-breathing 100%

    I now have relatively consistent results for my last three tests. The 11/13 and 11/16 tests were done on days that I didn’t work. The 11/13 test had an adjusted starting HR of 131 and adjusted cardiac drift of 0.5%. The 11/16 test had an adjusted starting HR of 134 and adjusted cardiac drift of 3.7%, which is reasonably consistent with the 11/13 test given the higher starting HR for the 11/16 test.

    In addition, the 11/13 and my most recent test on 11/26/19 had starting HRs of 131, but the cardiac drift for the 11/26 test was 3.3% versus 0.5% for the 11/13. I believe this increase in cardiac drift can be explained by the fact that I worked 7.5 hours on a retail sales floor on 11/26 (I didn’t work on the day of the 11/13 test) and that I warmed up for 25 minutes on 11/26 (versus 15 minutes for the 11/13 test). So again, these results appear to be reasonable consistent.

    While Derek has suggested I use a much lower AeT than that determined by these results, I have decided to set my AeT at 130. I suspect that Derek may very well be right, but Uphill Athlete calls the Heart Rate Drift Test “our go-to test for all our coached athletes” and says, “We like it so much that we include it as the first workout in every aerobically based training plan we offer,” which would include the UA 8-week Basic Mountaineering Plan I’m using, so I’m going to give it a go. Hopefully it works so I can use it to measure my progress as well.

    Thanks again to all of you. Happy Thanksgiving!

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