Here are our most commonly asked questions on physiological testing. If you have any further questions please email us, using the subject line "Physiology", and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
What are the benefits of SBT?

 • Reduced risk of overtraining
• Greater efficiency of training
• Training targeted at your individual physiological requirements
• Greater physiological ability to tolerate the demands of training
• Improved performance
• Improved recovery rate

What does SBT actually test?

Lactate is a biomarker that is produced during exercise. It is produced through the glycolytic pathway, when there is too much pyruvate than can be oxidised aerobically. As blood lactate levels increase it demonstrates that the body is using increased contributions from the anaerobic energy systems to sustain the current level of work. It can be used as an indirect marker to measuring these metabolic changes, and as a useful index of exercise intensity.

SBT uses this data from lactate to analyze efficiency across 8 different energy systems that your body uses as fuel to burn during activity. SBT utilizes world leading physiological profile testing (PPT) and analysis systems developed in the USA to assess your metabolism, exercise physiology, biochemistry, and bioenergetics to optimize your sporting performance.

I’m not an elite athlete, can SBT benefit me?

The great thing about SBT is that anyone can benefit from it. It doesn’t matter if you are a world class athlete or someone who has just got into training for their first event, the principles behind SBT remain the same. We are optimizing your individual performance based on your physiological capabilities. We can’t make everyone a world record breaker, but we can ensure that everyone is getting the most out of their training, reduce the risk of overtraining, and make sure their systems are primed for the requirements of their training.

What are BioEnergetic Power Scores (BEPS)?

Every activity from sleeping, rowing a 2k, running a marathon, or swimming a 50m butterfly can be defined along the human bioenergetic power continuum. Bioenergetics is the bodies ability to create, store, and use the appropriate fuels to perform our intended activities.

The BioEnergetic Power Score™ (BEPS)
BEPS scores give us the ability to determine whether each system has the capacity to provide fuel for your required level of activity. Using reference values created over the past 15 years from 150,000 samples we are able to give you an indication of what BEPS value you require to help you achieve your goal.
As part of your PPT report you will get a BEPS score and graph

How to read your BEPS results?
As part of the data analysis we will give you a rating in relation to functional capacity to perform at your required level. These ratings are divided into categories:

Non-functional: This does not mean that the individual is not a talented athlete or that their training is “wrong”. What it is demonstrating is that the athlete has negatively adapted to the training load, and that the balance of the current training load and lifestyle is inappropriate for their current physiological state. The most difficult part of prescribing appropriate training load is the fact that an individual’s metabolic and physiological state is very dynamic and can be influenced by many factors. Without physiological testing it is hard to know what training load is appropriate. What their BEPS graph shows is that they currently only have ONE available energy system to produce the fuel for ALL their activity. Ideally, we would like you to have 6 or more Systems at all times in order to make the most physiological adaptations as well as optimal performance outputs. An analogy for this individual would be a car working on only one cylinder, it will still be able to move, but it will not be performing as well as it could do as if all were operating. Non-Functional athletes have a negative energy balance (between aerobic and anaerobic energy contribution) and are in an inadequate state of recovery. This state can be caused by a number of factors but the appropriate training prescription will address this current metabolic state regardless of the cause.

Low functional: These athletes haven’t quite got the balance right. They have adapted to the stress put on their body by shutting down energy systems. This results in a negative energy balance; less energy in than energy out. This means for certain activity levels they will be using inappropriate energy sources. If we use a car analogy it would be like a race car trying to run on standard unleaded petrol. Your body is able to adapt to using an inappropriate fuel source, but it means it is not functioning as well as it could. The first aim for these clients would be to increase the number of energy systems they have available, this will give them availability to use different fuels for different activities.

Functional: Dependent on their activity, functional athletes might have enough energy systems available to contribute to their activity. Different activities have different requirements in terms of their energy systems and as such require different fuels. For these individuals we would be looking at increasing the ability to work at the specific levels required for their activity, whilst increasing the availability of the fuel to sustain activity at different intensities.

Fully functional: This is the ideal state we would want people to be in prior to starting a training block. It represents a positive energy balance between aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, meaning they are getting the appropriate balance between training and recovery. With these individuals we would look at their activity specific requirements with the goal to strengthen the energy systems that provide the largest contribution to their activity.

BEPS PROGRESSION

As this chart and graph shows, when initially tested in December, this athlete was totally lacking fuel in AF, PAC, ANRC-2, and ANRC-1 energy systems, as demonstrated by exhibiting a lack of a power score for that system. This results in reduced functional aerobic capacity, essential for building all other energy systems, and a reduced maximal anaerobic capacity. With a 12 week SBT program this athlete was able to improve her 800 meter time from 2:15 to 2:08.

To get a better understanding of the in-depth science behind these principles follow this link; See more

What can I expect from the testing?

• The testing will be performed using incremental intervals. It should take approximately 30-40 minutes to complete, but can take up to 60 minutes for beginners.
• The athlete will have the end of their finger pricked with a sterile instrument, for use in collecting a drop of blood for physiological testing
• The athlete will be asked to perform 5-8 intervals (the tester will give you this specific information on testing day). The speed of the intervals will start very easy and become progressively harder with each interval. The final interval will be at maximal effort. The starting value will be individualized to level of performance & experience.
• The athlete will wear a heart rate monitor during the testing and after each interval heart rate will be recorded.
• The tester will clean the skin, squeeze the finger (previously pricked) to produce 1 drop of blood, and a physiological reading will be taken. Occasionally an athlete may require a second prick of the skin to produce the required drop of blood if they are cold or dehydrated.
• The athlete will then perform the next interval at the prescribed speed, and the process will be repeated until 5 or more intervals have been achieved.

What happens after testing?

After testing we analyse your results and produce a report highlighting your strength and weakness. Depending on how much input you require, I.e. level 1 or 2 packages, we will either provide guidance around training parameters to target the most appropriate energy system, or provide a detailed daily training program to ensure you maximise your training.

How often should I be tested?

The results from your PPT and any subsequent training recommendations are accurate to meet your current needs. However, as you train your body adapts and so does your requirements for future training. As such, we recommend that athletes re-test every 3-4 months or at the end of a training block. This will ensure that you have up to date information regarding how your body is adapting to training stimulus, allowing us to make adjustment to optimize your performance as required. It also provides for longitudinal information that creates better understanding of how your body adapts to training and stressors, allowing for increasingly accurate prescriptions with each test performed.

Why do I need a heart rate watch?

Heart rate indicates the daily stress the body is managing and how hard the body is working, even if the rate or power output is slower than normal. SBT uses precise workloads to achieve specific physiological objectives. It is based on gaining improvement in 8 different energy systems to improve overall performance. If you were to train only at a prescribed pace every day, this would not take into consideration the environmental effects on your energy systems. Keeping within prescribed HR zones gives and effective measure of your bodies overall work effort, and will allow specific training of the individual energy systems. This ensures appropriate loading no matter what the conditions.

Do I need to stick to my HR when running up a hill?

This is a very common question, the simple answer is YES. We are using your heart rate as measure of how much stress your body is under. When training specific systems we need to ensure the stress on your body is appropriate for the system we are training. There are a number of different situations that would cause an increase in heart rate when running, such as hills, heat, or work related stress. These external factors can increase your heart rate because your body is under more stress, so working harder. To ensure you are training the correct system you will have to accommodate these external stressors to ensure you stay in your target heart rate zone. This means you may need to slow down to stay in your ideal training zone for that day.

What can PPT tell me?

The testing data from PPT is applied specifically to you as an individual to help you achieve your goals. PPT can assist you to get the best out of your training with a reduced overall training load as it will increase efficiency of training, leaving more time for recovery or leisure activities. It can help you plan your training phases and training loads as these are not just dependent on individual physiological readiness and not just based on the level of your athletic experience, a set time in a training phase or number of weeks until peak performance.

What can PPT tell me as a Coach?

Coaching is an art, but science can greatly benefit any coach looking to optimize performance and eliminate much guesswork when individualizing training. The science of lactate testing and PPT is a huge step forward in the advancement of human performance.
If coaches have a greater understanding of the contribution and importance of glycolysis, aerobic and anaerobic metabolism and how it can be trained in athletes, the athlete’s results can be maximized.
The value, interaction, and balance of both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems in many individual and team sports is necessary for optimal success because there is a strong contribution of both aerobic and anaerobic power in most sporting codes.

Repeated testing over a period of time can provide coaches with a wealth of individual physiological information that can pinpoint the training stimulus that will create maximum response in each athlete.
Understanding differences in each athlete’s physiological profile will help coaches establish individualized training plans, take the guesswork out of program development, and produce peak performance when it counts.
· We can provide you valuable data and recommendations to identify the athletes with greatest athletic potential
· We can provide you with measureable data to demonstrate physiological power gains made in the off season for each individual athlete

Does SBT replace my coach?

No, nothing can replace the experience and knowledge a good coach has. What SBT gives your coach is the necessary information to develop a truly individualised training program. One that is sensitive to the changing needs of your body. This will ensure you are able to maximise the benefits from your training

Why can't I just train using functional threshold power (FTP) instead?

FTP is the maximal power output that an athlete can sustain over a 60-minute period. This is used to determine an athletes’ performance capacity. The larger the FTP the greater the athletes’ ability to sustain performance. FTP is determined by calculating average power outputs over a set timeframe, then using a percentage of these outputs as your training zones. This training information is largely based on averages, and generalized across populations. It does not provide any indication about how YOUR body is tolerating these loads.
One of the main issues with this training method is that athletes training using this system are often required to work at or near threshold levels, for repeated bouts of exercise, with no information regarding how their body in tolerating these loads. These levels of training are extremely taxing on the body, and can result in overtraining, leading to reduced performance.
SBT takes the guess work out of training. We can use your FTP score as a indication of what starting value to use for the first interval in your SBT test.

Why can't I just train using heart rate training zones instead?

Heart rate training zones are useful as it gives an indication of how hard your body is working during your training. The issue with using heart rate or similar software as a sole measure is that it is based on standardized data from a range of athletes. As no two people are the same, without having performed physiological testing, we cannot say that even if two athletes are working at the same heart rate they will be using the same energy system. Without this individualized information (PPT testing results) you are essentially guessing, which can result in over or undertraining.

After you have completed your testing you will have accurate individualized information on the heart rate training zones that reflect YOUR individual needs.

Why go above lactate threshold in the SBT test, isn’t this dangerous?

Lactate threshold testing is described as the highest intensity of exercise that can be maintained where lactate production and clearance are in equilibrium, or the “point” where we “switch” between aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. It is a terminology that is widely used in physiology to explain a complex process in simple terms. In reality there is no single point where we switch from aerobic to anaerobic energy systems, it’s a constantly changing continuum between contribution of aerobic and anaerobic systems in exercise.

Some sources site that going above this level during testing can be dangerous. At the Lab we do not view lactate threshold as being a particularly important measure by itself, it is merely a point on the continuum of your lactate profile.  Aerobic to anaerobic energy systems both contribute to all exercise, however, the relative contribution changes with exercise intensity.

At the Lab we feel that in order to gain the complete picture of an athlete, we must expose them to similar exercise intensities as they would expect to experience during training and competition. This means we test to exhaustion. Gaining this extra data means that we can determine exactly how the body copes with higher intensity exercise, and allow us to develop individualized plans to meet the body’s needs. There is no danger in testing above the lactate turn point, rather we feel it affords greater safety, as it give accurate data (rather than extrapolated data above the turn point) that can be used to safely prescribe velocities, wattage and loads of training for those higher energy systems. It is in these higher energy systems where people are often overstimulated, resulting in impaired efficiency or performance.

Where can I learn more about SBT principles?

For more information check out the Go Athletics website and blog. https://blooddontlie.blog/, http://www.systembasedtraining.com/
Or alternatively book in for a one on one consultancy service, where we can provide specific advice and upskilling to meet your individual requirements.