How do you gauge your training intensity? Is it based off of a rating of perceived exertion (RPE)? Do you stick to your heart rate zones? Do you establish power zones according to your functional threshold power (FTP)? Or do you use your VO2max/lactate threshold value? Not one of these methods is necessarily wrong or right, however, these methods could be used together to see the bigger picture. For example, matching your RPE with heart rate can be more beneficial to determine if you are undertraining or overtraining. To take it one step further, knowing what your power/pace and heart rate is at your lactate threshold can more accurately highlight crucial training intensities.
With any sport athletes want to stay ahead of the curve in order to enhance their performance. A new method that has surfaced has been muscle oxygen saturation during exercise. With the use of near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), lights can be emitted into working muscle and determine how well the muscle is being provided with oxygen. This is called muscle oxygen saturation (SmO2).
Why is this important? Let’s first trace how oxygen is brought to the muscles.
Before blood is pumped from the heart to the entire body it passes through the lungs to receive oxygen. Blood contains hemoglobin, a protein that oxygen attaches too. The blood then passes through the body and through muscle capillaries where the oxygen is transferred from the hemoglobin to the working muscle. Muscles then rely on this oxygen to generate energy (ATP). When muscles are fully oxygenated they provide energy very well, however, when exercise duration and/or intensity increases the SmO2 drops causing a drop in available energy.
A device called Moxy uses NIRS technology and can provide this information to athletes when exercising. It is a small device that can be taped to any muscle specific to any mode of exercise. During cycling, for instance, the Moxy device is taped to the vastus lateralis, the most dominant leg muscle during cycling, and can measure the SmO2.
What’s even more interesting about this device is that it is not only being used to help determine training intensities but to determine appropriate rest times during hard intervals. When doing 200 meter repeats on the track at 90% effort how much time should be taken to recover? 30 seconds, 1 minute or 2 minutes? Moxy allows an athlete to see how long it took for their muscle oxygen saturation to fully recovered and when it is appropriate to begin the next interval repetition. By now knowing the appropriate rest during your intervals you can now harness the full training effect of your workout.
In all sports it is important to know how and why you are doing specific workouts and the coaches and trainers at DAI Endurance know just that. The Moxy device is available to demo at DAI and to even help establish more clear training zones and rest times during intervals. Come into DAI to compete hard and train smart.