My journey into physiological testing and program design started approximately 20 years ago when working with ironman triathletes, skiers, cyclists and mountain bikers. All around me were coaches prescribing general triathlon programming without knowing their athlete’s specific performance limitations. How can I prescribe an athlete specific program to improve performance without identifying their limitation(s)?
I needed a way to test my athletes’ physiological responses to exercise. I first started testing athletes using lactate, heart rate and SpO2. I soon realized that these metrics were not enough to truly identify an athlete’s physiological limitation(s) and to allow me to accurately fix zones as prescribing the right intensity is imperative to the success of their program. I gave up on indirect measures such as lactate and searched for a better option.
I soon moved to using metabolic analysis which provided me with a lot of the information I required to achieve my goals including VO2 and CO2 data to monitor oxygen utilization and carbon dioxide expulsion, fuel system use at rest and during activity (fat vs. carbohydrate), fuel switch points (free fatty acid, aerobic glycolysis, anaerobic glycolysis/lactate and ATP/PC) - which is imperative to accurately zoning clients - as well as respiratory information such as breathing frequency and tidal volumes. This data allowed me to identify my client’s performance limitation(s) (cardiovascular, respiratory or metabolic) and thereby prescribe the best program to minimize or eliminate their limitation(s).
Metabolic analysis also provided me with standard measures such as VO2peak (maximum oxygen uptake) as well as aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. I could then use these metabolic measurements to prescribe the correct programming and monitor the changes over time through retesting to prove that my programming was effective.
But I still didn’t have a way to directly measure what was happening metabolically at the muscle. About eight years ago, I was introduced to Near Infrared Spectrometry (NIRS) through Roger at Moxy. I soon realized that the Moxy provided me with the additional information that I needed (oxygen delivery and utilization and haemoglobin concentration. I have been using metabolic analysis in combination with Moxy for around eight years and am absolutely convinced that PNOĒ and Moxy provide the best combination of metrics to clearly identify performance limitation(s), accurately zone and thereby prescribe the correct exercise type and intensity in order to maximize training results.
By using both Moxy and PNOĒ, I can compare oxygen utilization at the muscle with Moxy with VO2 data with PNOĒ, identify if CO2 expulsion levels with PNOĒ are the effect of a normal metabolic response or due to a respiratory limitation (PNOĒ) and if so, see the ramifications in oxygen delivery and utilization at the muscle (Moxy) as well as compare zoning recommendations from the PNOĒ data based upon fuel switching, VO2peak and/or anaerobic threshold with zoning using the metabolic data from the Moxy based upon oxygen utilization. I can clearly differentiate between central cardiac limitations with PNOĒ vs. peripheral vascular limitations with Moxy.
Moxy further helps to identify metabolic limitations at the muscle including decreased mitochondrial density and capillarization. This information provides me clear metrics I can use to design athlete specific effective and efficient training programs thereby not wasting the athletes time nor being tempted to overload the athlete with training they truly do not require. A byproduct of using PNOĒ with Moxy is decreasing injury rates from overtraining through the prescription of generic programming that is so common now. By retesting on a regular basis, I demonstrate the structural changes that have occurred secondary to my intelligent programming thereby maintaining client confidence and loyalty. I use the retest opportunity to rezone (yes…zones need to be updated regularly as the limitations are minimized or eliminated) thereby ensuring appropriate intensities (watts, speed or heart rate) are maintained during training. Moxy can also be used during sport specific training and strength training to help guide load and work to rest ratios.
PNOĒ and Moxy have worked together to integrate all the data onto the PNOĒ platform thereby ensuring the analysis of the data is quick and easy. Simply connect your Moxy(s) to the PNOĒ app via Bluetooth, complete a test and all the data for both devices are available to you on the PNOĒ API in the form of easy to view graphs with the ability to combine any number of metrics you wish.
I highly recommend both of these products. PNOĒ and Moxy are excellent devices in isolation, but together, they are a match made in heaven.