Frequently asked questions
1. Why should I get tested?
Testing is the only way to obtain scientific evidence of improvements to your cardiovascular fitness or physique. Other metrics are subject to many variables which affect their accuracy.
You may have knocked a minute off your 10km personal best, but what was the gradient of that particular run? You’ve lost 5kgs but how much of that was muscle compared to fat? Have you actually improved?
If you don’t get tested, you cannot be sure that you’re training in the right way.
VO2 Max - In general, as your aerobic fitness increases, your VO2 max increases.
Lactate threshold - if you don't know your threshold, you could be training at the wrong intensity and in the wrong zones causing you not to improve.
BodPod / Hydrostatic weighing - You've gained weight following a big muscle in the gym? How much of this weight gain is muscle and how much is fat? You've lost weight through strict dieting and exercise, but how much of this weight loss is actually fat? How much muscle did you lose?
DEXA Scan - You've lost weight and body fat, but are there certain areas of your body improving whilst others are lagging behind? Do you know how much abdominal fat you have lost, if any?
2. Which performance test is best?
A VO2 Max tests measures the maximum rate at which your heart, lungs, and muscles use oxygen during exercise i.e. your aerobic capacity. Your first test will identify your baseline VO2 Max and additional testing will evidence any improvements to your VO2 Max i.e. your cardiovascular fitness levels.
A lactate threshold test identifies the point at which your body produces more lactic acid than it is able to remove i.e. the point at which you begin to feel the effects of fatigue or cramp. Knowing this threshold allows you to target your training more specifically, i.e. training in and around this threshold in order to improve it.
Your lactate threshold can be estimated during a VO2 max test, however for an accurate assessment, a threshold test should be undertaken. Your first test will identify your lactate threshold. Similar to VO2 Max tests, with 2 or more tests, you will be able to evidence any increases (improvements) to your threshold.
Both tests can evidence improvements to fitness, however they provide different insights and cannot be directly compared to one another. The biggest insights will be obtained when both tests are performed 2 or more times so that increase to your VO2 Max and Lactate threshold can both be evidenced.
We recommend that combined Lactate threshold and VO2 Max tests are selected.
3. Which body composition test is best?
All of the tests are highly accurate, however the following guidance should help you in deciding which test to book:
1. Price – Skinfold measurement (i.e. caliper testing) is our low-cost option for a bodyfat and muscles mass test. This is performed by a trained individual.
2. Consistency – BodPod, Hydrostatic weighing and DXA Scan have fewer human elements in the testing which makes these tests slightly more consistent than skinfold measurements.
3. Insight and detail – DEXA scans give you bodyfat and muscle mass reading for different areas of your body (as well as a total reading). This means you can identify reductions in bodyfat and increases in muscle mass on specific parts of your body.
4. What happens during the test?
VO2 Max – On either a treadmill or a static exercise bike, you begin to exercise, where the speed and intensity of the exercise will be gradually increased up until you a performing an all-out effort. Through the test measurement of the volume and oxygen concentration of inhaled and exhaled air will be collected. The level oxygen you consume rises as the intensity of exercise increases, up to a point. However, there is a specific point at which oxygen consumption plateaus even where exercise intensity increases. This plateau marks the VO2 max. A painful point where you can no longer increase your intensity, muscle fatigue sets in and you are forced to stop exercising. A higher VO2 Max generally indicates a higher level of fitness.
DEXA – For the DEXA Scan you lie on a padded table and the scanner the proceeds to take three full body scans. This is not like a CT or MRI Scan. The scanner is much thinner and you will not be in a confined space. You have to avboid movement during the scan but can relax and breathe normally. The scan takes less than 5 mins. Following completion of the scans, you will have a full analysis of your body fat and muscle mass across specific areas of your body.
BodPod – Your bodyweight and height is measured. The volume of air within the BodPod is the measured whilst empty. Following this, your are seated within the BodPod and the air is measured again. The difference between the 2 measurements is calculated and via a scientific formula your muscle mass and body fat is determined.
Hydrostatic weighing - Similarly to BodPod, your bodyweight and height is measured. The volume of water within the pool or tank is the measured whilst you are not in. Following this, your are fully submerged within the pool or tank and the volume of warer is measured again. The difference between the 2 measurements is calculated and via a scientific formula your muscle mass and body fat is determined.
Skinfold - The tester pinches the skin at 9 sites across your body to raise a double layer of skin. Calipers are then used to measure these double layers (your bodyfat) in millimeters. The total measurements across these 9 sites determines your overall bodyfat. Regular testing will identify changes in these measurements (fat gain or fat loss).
5. How long does it take?
VO2 Max and Lactate threshold tests usually take between 10 and 15 minutes (each). Therefore 30 minutes if you are having a combined VO2 Max and Lactate threshold test.
Body composition tests (Skinfold testing, BodPod, Hydrostatic weighing, DEXA Scan) can take upto 15 mins.
In all cases, you should allow an additional 15 minutes for preparation prior to your test and for any necessary consultation afterwards.
6. What do I need to prepare for a test?
VO2 Max and Lactate threshold – People undergoing testing should be completely rested and motivated to perform optimally and endure the pain long enough to find true VO2 max and lactate thresholds.
Body composition testing (Skinfold test, BodPod, Hydrostatic weighing, DEXA scan) - Do not eat in the 4 hours prior to testing. Ideally, testing should be performed early in the day and the participant should undertake the testing in a faster state. A small amount of water should be consumed, but this should also be limited. In all cases, the conditions under which you arrive for testing should be replicated as close as possible for all follow-up testing so that the comparison of tests results is consistent.
7. What do I wear for a composition test?
Given the nature of the testing, most men undergo testing in their underwear, swim shorts or trunks (this applies for all testing; BodPod, Hydrostatic weighing and DEXA Scanning).
For women, this varies by test. For BodPod and Hydrostatic weighing, a bikini, swimming costume, or sports bra with short bottoms should be worn. For DEXA Scanning a full costume should not be worn, instead a bikini or other underwear (non-wired bra i.e. a sports bra but not a traditional wired bra) should be worn. Loose-fitting sports clothing such as cotton shorts and a sports top can be worn as long as there are no metal attachments or zips. A gown can be worn over underwear if preferred.
Both men and women will be asked to change into the appropriate clothing behind a curtained area for privacy.
Our venues have both male and female operators, in most cases both. If you have a preference, please let us know in advance and we will attempt to arrange this.
You will be asked to remove all jewellery. If you cannot remove certain pieces, don’t worry, this is fine, it will not affect your scan and it is not dangerous to you in any way. Having any metal implants or a Pacemaker does not affect the testing and does not present any risk.
8. What do I wear for a performance test?
For performances testing you should wear clothing that makes you feel comfortable and will allow to perform optimally.
9. How often should I get tested?
This will vary be individual. However, to obtain the most valuable insights and value, tests should be undertaken at the following times:
For those undertaking focused training program e.g. an 8 or 12-week high intensity training programme, testing should be performed before and after this program*.
For professionals and semi-professionals in specific seasonal sports e.g. Rugby, Football, Hockey, Bodybuilding. Testing should be undertaken pre-season, mid-season and post-season and we also recommend off-season. For athletes in non-seasonal sports e.g. cycling, triathlon, combat sprots, testing should be undertaken at regular intervals.
*A minimum of 8 weeks must be left between every DEXA Scan.
10. What is the risk?
All of our body composition tests (BodPod, DEXA, Hydrostatic weighing and Skinfold tests) are safe, quick and non-invasive procedure. The X-ray energy used in DEXA Scans is extremely low and the dose of radiation from a scan is equivalent to less than a day's normal background radiation.
VO2 Max – The VO2 Max test takes place on a treadmill or a bike and therefore the usual risks associated with any high intensity exercise on these machines apply.
Lactate threshold – The Lactate threshold test takes place on a treadmill or a bike, with the added process of small pin-prick blood samples which are taken during the test. These tiny samples are taken from either your ear lobe or the tip of your finger. The same point is then used for each blood sample where only a small squeeze is necessary after the first sample.
11. What is the minimum age for testing?
There is no minimum age for testing. However, if you are under 16 you must be accompanied by an adult.
Persons under 18 are not permitted to have a DEXA scan.
12. Can I cancel my booking?
Yes. Plans can change and we accept that. With that in mind we have developed the following cancellation policy is applicable to all bookings and is as follows:
- Cancel or change at least 24 hours before start of appointment – deposit fully refunded.
- Cancel within 24 hours of appointment time or no-show - 100% of deposit paid forfeited. No refund.
13. Where are your centres located?
Our centres are located across the UK and we also have a mobile testing unit which brings the performance lab to you. This allows to better service teams but also individuals and clubs in more remote locations. Our labs are located in the following cities (listed alphabetically):
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