When is a performance test (ergometry) useful?
After an initial acclimatisation period of two to three weeks, ergometry is very useful. Especially for beginners. "Yes, but I'm not a professional" is an often given answer. Why especially you as a beginner can benefit from ergometry, you can read here. But first we have to go back a bit:
The quality of training is determined by 4 factors:
1) It takes place at all
2 ) Frequency
4 ) Intensity
While point 1 is perfectly clear and the question about frequency can be answered with 2 to 3 times per week as a minimum, points 3 and 4 require more detailed explanation.
For health sports, exercise units of 10 to 20 minutes are already sufficient. It does not always have to be the classic hour. Especially not at the beginning, because we as trainers know that 60 minutes can be intimidating, especially at the beginning. The duration itself even plays a subordinate role when it comes to the effect of training. Intensity, especially when you're short on time and don't have much time to spare, is an equally important component. Leading sports scientist Stephen Seiler says on this subject: "Intensity is crucial, volume is debatable." So it's not the amount you train, but the range you train in that is more crucial to success. And this is exactly the reason why ergometry makes a lot of sense for beginners:
Intensity as the key to (mis)success
Most of the time, the intensity that beginners hit is way too high without being noticed. Maybe it has already happened to you. The consequences are dramatic. When training is too intense, the body produces an excess of lactate and subsequently the stress hormone cortisol. A (sporty) burnout is the consequence. In concrete terms, it usually happens like this, and you might recognize a pattern:
Stage 1: You are motivated and have heard somewhere "no pain, no gain" and have succumbed to the promise of being able to achieve massive success in a short time.
Stage 2: You train and have an improvement in the first few weeks. (But the improvement has been bought at a high price: cortisol)
Stage 3: Your body and brain notice what's going on and find excuses for you why you can't train today: Illness, fatigue, anything else...
Stage 4: You don't exercise or work out for weeks and months, breaking the most important rule: rule number 1, workouts should happen.
What's the right way?
Phase 1, the acclimatisation
Start slowly with 2 to 3 walks per week, lasting 30 to 60 minutes. Your breathing should be at maximum speed, but you shouldn't even be huffing.
Phase 2, Where do I stand?
After two to three weeks you can sign up for a performance test. The reason for this is that after this first phase your pulse values stabilize to such an extent that you do not have to take another test immediately.
Phase 3, the test
It is perfectly ok if you say that you are a total beginner. A reputable institute will take your situation just as seriously as that of a competitive athlete.
A lactate level test on a treadmill or bike is the best way to know where your training zones are. Once again: especially beginners feel less than experienced athletes whether they are training in the right range.
Our friends at www.spowi-projekt.at do ergometrics like this very well. FitnessGoesoffice doesn't earn anything from it. We just like to get customers. You are welcome to contact us with the test results!
Phase 4, Your Way!
After this test, there are two rules that make a lot of sense:
1) Four out of five workouts should be below your anaerobic threshold (determined in the test, hence the test). On the 5th workout, you are allowed to kick it, especially if you have been training for a few weeks. But you don't have to.
2) This intense time in the 5th workout should never exceed 10 percent of your total workout time.
No matter what power level you are in. This is the rough roadmap to success for all of us.
The fact that you work out is great!
2 to 3 times a week is great. A mix of strength, endurance and flexibility is best.
The range you train in is crucial for your success. Wrist based heart rate monitors are far too inaccurate. Take this into account when buying your heart rate monitor, without which your test makes no sense.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us: email@example.com