VO2max, thresholds, and efficiency are thought to be and certainly do have considerable predictive power for endurance performance. They are great global variables to measure and monitor how an athlete is coping with the stress of long endurance athletics. However, most metabolic devices are bulky, require uncomfortable mouth pieces, backpacks, or other restrictive equipment which can interfere with an athlete’s performance. They also fail to directly measure the stress of arguably the most important organ during exercise, the skeletal muscle. Recently, the ability for skeletal muscle to utilize oxygen measured by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has been shown to the best predictor of endurance performance in trained cyclists. Therefore in order to gain the best picture of an athlete’s physiology, these global measures should be accompanied by devices that can measure local stress.
Measuring the proper variables to explain an athlete’s physiology is paramount to proper training prescription. Yet, as a researcher and coach, one of the biggest headaches I run into is the tangled mess of cords needed accompanied by uncomfortable data collection. On top of that, the inability for most research/physiology devices to sync together, with the same sampling rates, or report variables in a similar fashion leads to hours of time spent syncing data which could be much better used analyzing and furthering research hypotheses/ implementing training plans. Therefore, I am always searching for technology and platforms that allow for ease of use, integration of multiple devices and simplicity in analysis.
One such platform is VO2 Master. The VO2 Master Pro is the first face mask-only oxygen analyzer that simply attaches to a Hans Rudolph face mask without a backpack or any cords. Furthermore, the VO2 Master Pro, syncs directly with the VO2 Master Manager which can sync the analyzer, a heart rate monitor, power meter/cycle ergometer, and up to three Moxy monitors, and after devices have been synced once, they sync extremely quickly which allows for minimal set-up before testing this streamlined syncing also allows all data to be collected onto one device at the same time.
The VO2 Master Manager App is unique in that it allows for the selection of different testing protocols (i.e. resting metabolic rate, incremental step test, or even a 5-1-5 assessment), which can be monitored in real-time, shown in fig 1. The app provides direct reports immediately following the test shown in fig 2, or you can do a full export of the data, averaged in 1, 2, 5, 10, or 30s increments, if you’re interested in doing your own analysis.
One of the major benefits of the VO2 Master system is its ability to complete an automated 5-1-5 assessment. The 5-1-5 assessment allows for the identification of an athlete’s major physiological limiter (cardiac, pulmonary, or skeletal muscle). However, the interpretation of these tests can be challenging especially for those new to SmO2 and THb readings provided by Moxy. Working together, Moxy and VO2 Master have been developing interpretation algorithms that allow for immediate determination of an athlete’s major limiter. This will extend the power of NIRS and make more granular training plans available to less experienced users. With the syncing of up to 3 Moxy monitors users will be able to compare bilateral differences in skeletal muscle oxygen utilization, as well as monitor secondary muscles, while monitoring respiratory variables which is a huge benefit when painting the best physiological picture possible. Upon completion of a 5-1-5 assessment the VO2 Master App populates the report seen below.
Conclusion: The VO2 Master Pro system provides a great platform for collecting and analyzing the global and local variables necessary for in-depth monitoring of athletic performance potential. With the potential to simply sync up to three Moxy Monitors, and other devices, coaches and researchers can more aptly monitor physiologic response to training. Moving forward, Moxy and VO2 Master aim to further automate physiological reporting, to provide descriptions of limiters and provide athletes and coaches the tools to prescribe the training necessary to take performance to the next level.