Fitness put to the test with sports scientist Matt Shaw at McBride Physiotherapy in Scunthorpe
THE nerves were kicking in. The last e-mail I received from Matt prior to taking up the test signed off with the words: "bring some extreme motivation," writes Scunthorpe Telegraph reporter Richard Sharpe.
In just over a month's time, I will be cycling from John O'Groats to Lands End, a distance of more than 900 miles in nine days, for a charity challenge, so this was ideal preparation to see where I was at.
Scunthorpe's McBride Physiotherapy's new sports science service allows joggers, cyclists and anyone trying to stay fit a chance to assess their fitness levels and plan training based on the results.
On my visit, I was introduced to Matt, a sports scientist at McBride, who outlined what we would be doing.
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The first part included a few measurements. Height – 187cm. Weight – 68kg. Then out came the tape measure, pen and an ultrasound scanner.
Matt measured my body to fat ratio. My result, 9.9 per cent, falls in to the athletes category. A definite boost to morale – but due to my slender physique, not a real surprise.
Then came the physical part of the test. I was hooked up to an oxygen mask and told that the resistance would be increased by 40 watts every four minutes as I cycled.
A total of 30 seconds before the resistance was increased, Matt took a blood sample to measure how quickly I could replace the build-up of lactic acid in my body.
And so it began.
After four minutes of cycling at 160 watts, my legs began to burn. We increased to 200 watts for a final four-minute push.
But then came the point that Matt had said would happen and, with my heart rate recording 174 beats a minute, I hit the wall – I could give no more. A total of 17-and-a-half minutes in to the allotted 20 minutes, my test had ended.
I hate quitting, so giving in was tough to take. But then came the results.
Apparently, my VO2 max is 56.1 ml/kg/min – which for the layman like me means my body is capable of using a lot of oxygen when exercising. This is a good thing, he tells me.
My lactate threshold – the point at which you start producing lactic acid quicker than it can be removed – occurred at 112 watts, effectively between stages two and three.
Matt explained any training above this point cannot be sustained.
Given the work that goes in to one of these tests, down to the finest details, I have certainly learned a lot from the experience.
In a strange sort of way, I actually really enjoyed it. Which is why, before I head off to John O'Groats, I will be putting my name down for another test and hopefully reporting progress and pushing that wall just a little bit further.