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    agk38 on · in reply to: Surprisingly low aerobic threshold (drift test) #39818

    Hey Scott, checking back in after completing the max strength portion of my base period. I followed the recommended training modes for an 8-week mountaineering plan (found on pg. 247 of Training for the New Alpinism). After confirming my AnT as 160 bpm, I kept all of my aerobic training in zones 1 and 2 (85-105 bpm). You can see the recorded weekly volume in the attached screenshot. Note that the “zone 1” column is really zones 1 and 2 combined since my AnT-AeT gap is more than 10%. I did not actively try to do zone 3 workouts, those were just the minutes that accumulated as a result of me temporarily going too fast during a zone 1-2 workout.

    Now I am starting the muscular endurance period of my base training (planning for 12 weeks). The main recommendation from the book is to do water jug carries up a steep hill, so I tried my first one today. In order to keep my HR below my AeT, I had to go painstakingly slow. Completing 0.37 miles with 500 ft. of elevation gain took 32 minutes and required multiple complete pauses in order to keep my HR low enough. Based on the book’s recommendation to gradually increase weight over the course of 12 weeks, I started with only 10 L (22 lbs, ~10% bodyweight). I’ve hiked before with 20 L and I’m confident I could do 30+ L as well.

    The problem is, even with a ton of extra weight I feel that my breathing and AeT are still going to be the limiting factor for speed, which is the opposite of what the book recommends – “if you are able to hike fast enough to get short of breath, you need to add more weight or pick a steeper hill”. At some point, more weight seeems to turn this into a strength workout rather than an endurance one. I also think the hill is pretty steep grade, and it happens to be close to my house with a source of water at the base. Do you think I will see improvement in my AeT pace if I continue hiking at such a slow pace, or should I consider an alternative workout for my muscular endurance base?

    Thanks for the input!

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    agk38 on · in reply to: Surprisingly low aerobic threshold (drift test) #36811

    Really excellent blog post in your link Scott. Neat to see the long-term changes in your threshold HRs and paces. I jumped over to another article of yours “Aerobic Capacity: When can I stop?” and was wondering about the 10% rule between AeT and AnT since it’s also mentioned on The Uphill Athlete page for the AnT test. Taking my AeT as 108 from tests so far, I would have the following zones

    1: ?* – 97**
    2: 97 – 108
    3: 108 – AnT
    4: AnT – not really relevant***
    5: not really relevant

    * How should I determine the lower end of zone 1 – another 10% off the AeT?
    ** I get 97 as the top of zone 1 from The Uphill Athlete page for AeT drift test which says subtract 10% from the AeT
    *** Since we’re talking endurance training, I don’t think I need to be concerned about these

    I haven’t done the AnT test yet, but I can pretty much guarantee it will be higher than 120 (which is the 10% cutoff). Given that, The Uphill Athlete recommendation is to “do all of my aerobic base training in zone 2”. Then, as the AnT/AeT gap becomes less than 10%, I should reduce the amount of zone 2 and move towards primarily zone 1 for my base training. In your blog post, you recommend “add[ing] a small amount of high-intensity training” once the thresholds are within 10% – so would that be small amounts of zone 3 with zone 1 still being the primary percentage of your training time?

    Like you say in the post, it definitely requires a lot of mentally discipline to not train above the AeT in order to build a base!

    agk38 on · in reply to: Surprisingly low aerobic threshold (drift test) #36787


    Just curious, why did you decide to do only 10 min. warm-up? Is it because your heart rate reached the desired level and was stable at around 10 mins?

    That’s just what the Training for the New Alpinism book recommends. After 10 minutes, my HR had stopped changing from the initial warmup and was steady for the intensity, which is where you want it to be

    I see that all your tests are done on Stair Stepper at different difficulty levels. Have you tried doing the heart rate drift test on a treadmill? I am not sure if it matters, but just a thought.

    I thought stair stepper would be a bit more applicable to step hiking, but like Scott says you’re just trying to maintain a constant speed in a threshold test, so I think any machine that can set a fixed speed should work


    With threshold tests, you’re not trying to maintain a heart rate. You’re maintaining the highest sustainable speed… Does that make sense?

    Yes I’m following you there. I don’t pay attention to my watch during the AeT tests, just crunch the numbers afterwards. For AnT, the perfect speed would be where you never need to slow down but are still exhausted after the 30 minutes?

    When you say “threshold speeds”, you mean the pace (i.e. mph, steps/min, etc.) that you can produce at your threshold HR? Can those speeds really improve without the threshold HR also increasing? It seems like for your body to output more power (higher pace/speed), you need more oxygen supplied to your muscles = higher required HR. Unless your muscles become more efficient at using the fixed amount of oxygen they receive… perhaps that’s the key point I’m missing

    agk38 on · in reply to: Surprisingly low aerobic threshold (drift test) #36743

    Thanks for the quick replies Reed and Scott! On the age-based population formula, I know individuals will have very different results. Nearly 30 bpm difference seemed like more variance than I would expect in the population, so I wanted to make sure I was conducting and interpreting my AeT tests correctly

    To clarify the “first half HR / second half HR” typo, I used the “/” character as a delimiter, not literal division. Bad ambiguity on my part, but the decoupling percentages are still written accurately following the second half divided by first half formula

    I might consider the lactate test as confirmation depending on the price, but it sounds like I can get some good improvements going off the drift test alone as well

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought one of the main goals of an endurance-focused plan is to increase your AeT? That way, the difference between your resting HR and AeT increases which gives you a bigger cushion to do harder activities while remaining in your aerobic zone. For instance, hike/run faster on an approach while staying in the aerobic zone (which is more efficient since you primarily burn fats for energy vs. carbs)

    The AnT test sounds interesting – I have the Mountain Guide Manual book and hadn’t heard it mentioned in there. From the link, it sounds like the difference between AnT and max HR is just the amount of time you can sustain it for? Max HR is a few seconds, but for AnT you should be sustaining the “maximal effort” for 30-60 minutes

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