So you received your metabolic test report and now wonder what you should work on to improve performance? Here’s how to discover potential room for improvement. We also show how you can calculate your ideal metabolic profile, depending on your goal. Afterwards you know exactly which metrics you should improve by how much.

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Table of Contents

Grab your metabolic report and let’s get started.

Discover what to work on: compare Your Metabolic Profile with others

In this example, we detect possibilities for improvement with a group performance comparison technique. Don’t forget to read the entire article to learn more strategies to detect strengths & weaknesses of your metabolic profile.

Physiological performance benchmarks gauge

First, in the INSCYD Athlete Setcard, you can see all Physiological Performance Benchmarks. The gauge already compares the results against a comparison group. For instance:

The INSCYD gauge compares metabolic test results with a comparison group.
The INSCYD gauge compares metabolic test results with a comparison group.

This metabolic gauge can give you a first indication of areas to focus on for performance improvement. For instance: in the example the VO2max is already super high, but FatMax is below average.

The comparison group itself can be determined by the INSCYD coach. This could be a standard comparison group like: recreational-, amateur- or professional athletes. 

Metabolic fingerprint: strength and weakness profile

Prefer to have an overview of all performance benchmarks in one place? Scroll to the Metabolic Fingerprint, also known as the strength and weakness profile.

Example of another athlete:

The INSCYD Metabolic Fingerprint compares metabolic test results with a comparison group, showing strengths and weaknesses
The INSCYD Metabolic Fingerprint compares metabolic test results with a comparison group, showing strengths and weaknesses
  • Red: very low
  • White: low
  • Grey (light): high
  • Grey (dark) very high

This again gives you an overview of areas to focus on for performance improvement. This example shows that FatMax and Efficiency are low compared to similar athletes.

Watch the INSCYD Metabolic Profile in action:

Direct Comparison of Metabolic Profiles: A Closer Look

It goes without saying that you can also choose to do a direct comparison between two or more athletes. For instance when looking at VLamax:

VLamax comparison between swimmers
VLamax comparison between swimmers

A direct comparison allows you to dive a little deeper into the details. For instance when comparing running economy or trying to improve swim economy

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Improving running economy is probably the most efficient way to shave off valuable minutes from your race times. At the same time, it’s an overlooked metric that is often wrongly measured. That’s why it’s time for a change!

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about the running economy – from theory to practice.

This XC use case shows why VO2max, VLamax and Anaerobic threshold can be similar between two athletes, while their performance differs dramatically: economy.

You can directly compare the economy of two athletes via the Economy tab in the INSCYD app. Watch the video for an example. Economy data does require a test with economy (VO2) measurements. INSCYD users can find the economy test protocol in the help center.

Let’s compare the economy of two swim athletes. The graph shows how fast two swimmers (red vs black) swim with a given energy expenditure.

The INSCYD Economy chart compares economy between two athletes.
The INSCYD Economy chart compares economy between two athletes.

This graph shows whether you swim faster or slower than someone else, while swimming at the same energy expenditure (exercise intensity). It uses the actual test results, meaning you can look at swim economy depending on swim technique (e.g. freestyle vs backstroke), swim distance, duration and intensity.

You can compare against another athlete or against a control group. This direct comparison strategy is a very good way to see whether – in this case swim economy – is something you should work on.

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  • In-depth analysis of swimming performance test protocols.
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Normative data

If you don’t have any reliable comparison group, you can still compare Physiological Performance Benchmarks with normative data. Discover normative data per metric via the links:

Wrap up

Comparing your metabolic test results with others is one way to detect areas for improvement. Note that you need to look at all Physiological Performance Benchmarks (e.g. VO2max, VLamax, Economy) to fully understand what’s going on. A simple lactate profile can easily lead to false conclusions, as this swim use case shows.

INSCYD Metabolic Profile

For coaches and labs

Watch Inscyd in action

INSCYD Metabolic Profile

INSCYD’s cutting-edge metabolic profiling offers a comprehensive view of an athlete’s capabilities, far beyond traditional metrics. Enhance training efficiency by understanding the unique metabolic profiles of each athlete.

  • Detailed insights into VO2max, VLamax, Economy, and more, providing a complete picture of an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Advanced comparison tools to measure your athletes against normative data or direct competitors.
  • Customizable benchmarks tailored to various sports, ensuring relevant and actionable data

👉 Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your coaching and lab services. Book your free INSCYD demo now and step into the future of performance analytics

For ATHLETES

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TRAINING

Athletes why train with generic plans when you can have a program tailored to your unique physiology? INSCYD is the key to unlocking your full potential. Find your dedicated INSCYD coach or lab here. 

Already have a coach? Great! Schedule a demo together with your coach to see how INSCYD can integrate into your current training and elevate your performance.

Discover what to work on: compare with previous metabolic test results

Let’s move from a group comparison to an individual comparison technique, to detect possibilities for improvement. Don’t forget to read the entire article to learn more strategies to detect strengths & weaknesses.

While group comparisons help to see where others outperform you, analysing your own metabolic profile over time enables you to spot areas of improvement too. This individual approach is also necessary to see what improvements are realistic.

Performance tracking

Infographic - Individual Metabolic Performance Tracking Chart

INSCYD’s  Performance Tracking features enable you to look back in performance history and can give you great insights into what you need to do in the future. Say you just performed an INSCYD metabolic profile. A good way to discover what you should work on is to look at your performance tracking chart.

performance development showing performance metrics over time.
INSCYD Performance Development showing changes in performance metrics within the season.

Were some metrics better in the past? Then this is a clear indication that those metrics have room for improvement.

Did some metrics increase rapidly after you changed your training program? Then this indicates you may have found the key to increasing a performance metric with a specific training method. Maybe sticking to that training method will increase those metrics even further, at least to a point.

Watch the INSCYD Performance Tracking function in action:

Download Free e-book or watch webinar

Download our comprehensive E-Book, titled ‘Mistakes You Need To Avoid When Using A Training Method | INSCYD X AZUM’, provides expert strategies, insights from elite coaches, and practical tips.

You can also watch our insightful webinar that delves deeper into the three-zone and five-zone models, polarized and pyramidal training methods.

Download Free e-book or watch webinar

[E-Book] - Mistakes You Need To Avoid When Using A Training Method

Download our comprehensive E-Book, titled ‘Mistakes You Need To Avoid When Using A Training Method | INSCYD X AZUM’, provides expert strategies, insights from elite coaches, and practical tips.

You can also watch our insightful webinar that delves deeper into the three-zone and five-zone models, polarized and pyramidal training methods.

Obviously it also works the other way around. If you have a personal record in VLamax after spending many months of dedicated sprint and strength work, you might hit your personal ceiling for VLamax. This could be especially true when you already see a flattening of the curve (less increase) over a couple of metabolic test results. It’s time to work on something else!

This example shows the importance of regular testing. Here’s more about how often you should do an exercise test.

Discover what to work on: start with the end in mind

Instead of comparing your test results with others or with your previous test results, you could also start with the end in mind. In this case, “the end” is your end goal and the metabolic profile that is necessary to reach that goal. From there on you can see what needs to be improved to get there.

Here’s a practical triathlon example to clarify this approach.

Goal: swim 3.8 km in one hour

In this example, the end goal is to swim 3.8 km (full triathlon swim distance) in one hour. We can now reverse calculate the required metabolic profile.

3.8 km in one hour equals a swim speed of 1.06 m/s.

Since the swim is only the first of 3 sports, swimming 1.06 m/s should be well below anaerobic threshold. For example: 70% of VO2max.

This means that when you swim 1.06 m/s the oxygen demand should be equal to or less than 70% of VO2max. That’s our end goal.

The current metabolic profile shows that the anaerobic threshold speed equals 1.03 m/s, which is at 77.6% of VO2max.

anaerobic threshold in swimming.
INSCYD shows the anaerobic threshold swim speed, pace and % of VO2max.

It also shows that the oxygen demand at 1.06 m/s equals 36.10 ml/kg/min (solid dark blue line in the image below). That equals 80% of VO2max (45 ml/kg/min in this example).

We now know that we either need to:

  1. Increase VO2max from 45 to 52 ml/kg/min to make sure our current oxygen demand at race pace equals 70% of VO2max.
  2. Or decrease oxygen demand at our race pace. This comes down to improving swimming economy.

By playing around with those two numbers in the INSCYD Performance Projection function, we can see what our required metabolic profile looks like.

In the example performance projection below (dashed dark blue line), we increased VO2max from 45 to 48 ml/kg/min. We also improved swim economy so that combined, the current oxygen demand at race pace shifts from 36.10 ml/min/kg to 33.40 ml/min/kg.

performance projection of the oxygen demand in swimming
INSCYD performance projection showing changes in oxygen demand during swimming due to changes in VO2max and swim economy. Solid dark blue line: current profile. Dashed dark blue line: required profile to reach the goal.

This performance projection shows that a combination of these two improvements is enough to swim 1.06 m/s at 70% of VO2max (33.40 oxygen demand ÷ 48 VO2max = 70%).

You now know exactly how much VO2max and swim economy need to improve to reach your end goal! 

Goal: climb the Alpe d’Huez in one hour

Say you’re participating in the Alpe d’Huez triathlon and you want to climb the Alpe d’Huez by bike in one hour. We can now reverse calculate the required metabolic profile.

Say you’re participating in the Alpe d’Huez triathlon and you want to climb the Alpe d’Huez by bike in one hour. We can now reverse calculate the required metabolic profile.

The current metabolic profile (solid lines image below) shows that the anaerobic threshold – where lactate production meets lactate combustion – equals 251W.

Since you need to run afterwards, we aim for an intensity of 90% of threshold. This means that your threshold should be 4.1 w/kg (3.7 ÷ 4.1 = 90%). That’s our end goal.

We now know that we need to:

  1. Increase anaerobic threshold by decreasing lactate production (VLamax), and/or;
  2. Increase anaerobic threshold by increasing lactate combustion (VO2max), and/or;
  3. Decrease body weight to increase relative power (W/kg)

By playing around with those three numbers in the INSCYD Performance Projection function, we can see what our required metabolic profile looks like.

In the example performance projection below (dashed lines), we increased VO2max from 55 to 58 ml/kg/min, decreased VLamax from 0.40 to 0.30 mmol/l/s and decreased body weight from 70 to 67kg.

performance projection of the anaerobic threshold in cycling
INSCYD performance projection showing changes in lactate production and -combustion during cycling due to changes in VO2max, VLamax and body weight. Solid lines: current profile. Dashed lines: required profile to reach the goal.

This performance projection shows that a combination of these three improvements is enough to increase threshold from 251W (3.59 W/kg) to 275W (4.10 W/kg).

Of course there are many different combinations of changes in these 3 metrics that can lead to the end goal → a threshold of 4.1 W/kg to climb the Alpe d’Huez in one hour. Pick one that is most realistic for you.

Goal: run a marathon in 3.5 hours

In this final example, the end goal is to run a marathon in 3.5 hours. Let’s reverse calculate the required metabolic profile.

To run a marathon of 42.195 km in 3.5 hours, you need a pace of roughly 5:00 min:sec/km.

The current metabolic profile (red line image below) shows that the carbohydrate combustion rate at this pace equals 125.0 grams per hour and therefore 437.5 grams per 3.5 hours.

The INSCYD Fat (green line) & carbohydrate (red line) combustion graph shows the energy source, depending on the running pace or speed.
The INSCYD Fat (green line) & carbohydrate (red line) combustion graph shows the energy source, depending on the running pace or speed.

To understand whether that is realistic, we need to look at the carbohydrate availability = glycogen stores + carb intake. The INSCYD report shows a glycogen availability of 412 grams. However, let’s assume you have already swam and cycled. With a similar calculation as the calculation below, the actual glycogen availability for the run turns out to be 200 grams.

glycogen availability for sports in the INSCYD report
INSCYD shows your personal glycogen availability, depending on gender, body composition and sport.

Let’s assume you plan to consume 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour during the marathon. We now have a carb availability of 200 + 3.5 * 60 = 410 grams. This is not enough to cover the 437.5 grams that we need.

We now know that we need to:

  1. Increase our carb intake, and/or;
  2. Improve our running economy to decrease the energy required, and/or;
  3. Decrease our carb combustion by decreasing VLamax, and/or;
  4. Increase our fat combustion by increasing our VO2max

Consuming 60 grams of carbs per hour can already be a challenge, so let’s only play around with the latter three options in the INSCYD Performance Projection function, to see what our required metabolic profile looks like.

In the example performance projection below (dashed red line), only VLamax is decreased from 3.0 to 0.27 mmol/l/s.

INSCYD performance projection showing changes in fat- and carbohydrate combustion when running, due to changes in VLamax. Solid lines: current profile. Dashed lines: required profile to reach the goal.
INSCYD performance projection showing changes in fat- and carbohydrate combustion when running, due to changes in VLamax. Solid lines: current profile. Dashed lines: required profile to reach the goal.

This performance projection shows that a decrease in VLamax is enough to increase fat combustion and decrease carb combustion, up to a point that the carb combustion is down by ~10 grams per hour. The carb combustion now equals 115.0 g/h * 3.5 h = 402,5 grams during the marathon. This can be covered by the carb availability of 410 grams.

By playing around with the numbers, you can find several combinations of changes in performance metrics that lead to the end goal.

Summary

We’ve learned 3 practical ways to discover what to work on after finishing a metabolic test:

  1. Compare the results with others. This could be a standard group like:professionals, amateurs or recreationals. You can also use normative data. Use INSCYD’s
  2. Compare the results with previous results. This is a great way to better understand your capabilities and helps to set realistic goals. Use INSCYD’s:
  3. Start with the end in mind. Discover what the metabolic profile should look like for your goal and see how it differs from your current profile. UseINSCYD’s:

For coaches and labs

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For ATHLETES

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR TRAINING

Athletes why train with generic plans when you can have a program tailored to your unique physiology? INSCYD is the key to unlocking your full potential. Find your dedicated INSCYD coach or lab here. 

Already have a coach? Experience INSCYD in action with your coach and redefine your training approach.

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