The Training Effect
Each training session you do has some kind of effect on your body. EPOC makes it possible to objectively measure whether the effect of the session was sufficient to improve your fitness level. This is called the Training Effect and can be determined by comparing the EPOC value measured from the training with the athlete's performance level.
The Training Effect is an indicator of how much the training session improved your aerobic fitness, especially the maximum performance of your cardiovascular system and the ability to resist fatigue during endurance training. It does not provide direct information about the effect to, for example, strength or speed attributes.
The Suunto Training Manager software divides the Training Effect into five categories, calculated from your personal background information. The divisions between these categories depend on your fitness level and prior training.
The Training Effect categories are:
Minor / recovering effect
Highly improving effect
Certain EPOC values correspond with each category. The better your fitness level, the more you have to push your body during training in order to improve your performance and the higher the EPOC values of the Training Effect categories.
Long-duration, low-intensity endurance base training (>1h, <50% VO2max) improves fat metabolism and increases capillary density and heart volume over the long term. This builds a foundation for better maximum performance and harder training in the future. Base endurance training does not usually have an immediate effect on maximum performance, so the Training Effect based on the EPOC value is relatively low.
High-intensity training (>75% VO2max) directly improves physical properties that increase maximum endurance performance including oxygen transport from lungs to muscles, energy production and utilization, and nerve/muscle cooperation. Improving these properties increases the maximum oxygen intake (VO2max) and resistance to fatigue, thus leading to a better endurance performance. The effect of such training depends on its duration.
Depending on individual differences, athletes' objectives and training history the optimal intensity levels of training are different. Experienced athletes must usually train at a higher intensity or for much longer intervals than beginners in order to reach a Training Effect that increases fitness.
In addition to EPOC and Training Effect, Suunto t6 also measures other data about the functioning of your body. This provides you with more information about what happens in your body during training, and allows you to monitor your development and plan your training in more detail.
Your heart rate indicates how effectively your cardiovascular system transfers oxygen from your lungs to your muscles. In addition to beats per minute, your heart's stroke volume, i.e., the amount of blood pumped by one beat, correlates directly to efficiency.
Up until now, heart rate has been the only value describing training intensity that could be measured for any exercise. For this reason it is commonly used as a gauge of how strenuous training is, and training is adjusted based on heart rate. Knowing what your heart rate is at any given moment, however, tells you only a small fraction of what effects the training has on your body.
Maximum heart rate is the highest possible heart rate your heart can achieve. It can be estimated based on your age. The latest recommendations suggest using the formula 210 - 0.65 x age when calculating the maximum heart rate. This formula gives a slightly higher maximum heart rate for older people than the earlier formula, 220 - age. Maximum heart rate is, however, very individual, and may differ from the calculated value by as much as 20-30 beats per minute. Determining its accurate value is only possible using a maximum performance test and this should be done if you are to get the most out of the calculations from your Suunto t6.
Resting heart rate is your heart's lowest number of beats per minute when you are at complete rest. Unlike maximum heart rate, resting heart rate and heart volume change as a result of regular training. Endurance athletes who have trained for a long time, for example, have an exceptionally low resting heart rate. Your resting heart rate should be taken when you wake up but before you have done anything else.
The difference between the resting heart rate and the maximum heart rate is called the heart rate reserve (HRR). The intensity of training is often defined as a percentage of the maximum heart rate (%HRmax) or the heart rate reserve (%HRR). The recommended heart rate zones in Suunto Training Manager's sample training sessions are based on percentage of maximum heart rate (%HRmax).
Respiratory rate and ventilation (the amount of air breathed per minute) are called breathing parameters. Changes in the breathing parameter values indicate changes in your body's physiological state.
During exercise, muscles consume more oxygen than at rest, increasing your body's oxygen demand. Your body will respond by increasing ventilation in order to provide enough oxygen for your muscles. This is manifested by an increase in the respiratory rate and the volume of each respiration. Thus, both ventilation and the amount of oxygen provided to your body increase.
The increase in respiratory rate and ventilation is non-linear when exertion increases from rest to maximum intensity; the higher the intensity, the faster the increase. Breathing parameter graphs allow the determination of the aerobic (lactate threshold) and anaerobic (onset of blood lactate accumulation) thresholds which represent the accumulation of lactic acid in your body.
These changes in breathing can be monitored at different levels of exercise as follows: at an easy pace, breathing does not hinder talking, but at a faster pace, talking is intermittent due to being out of breath.
When the exertion level exceeds the anaerobic threshold, respiration rises to such a high rate that talking becomes practically impossible.
< 15 rest
< 20 low training intensity
< 35 moderate training intensity
< 50 hard training intensity
> 50 very hard training intensity
These values depend on body size, sex and fitness level and include ranges in the table below.
< 10-15 rest
< 30-50 low training intensity
< 60-100 moderate training intensity
< 80-150 hard training intensity
> 150 very hard training intensity
Heart rate indicates the transfer of blood and oxygen to muscles. Oxygen consumption indicates how the muscles use the oxygen for work.
Compared to the breathing variables, oxygen consumption increases in a more linear manner as exertion increases. For this reason, oxygen consumption is, in practice, considered the most reliable variable when exercise intensity level is estimated.
Measurements of breathing variables provide important information about the functioning of your body during training, and, together with the heart rate and oxygen consumption, they allow a thorough analysis of the exercise, revealing things that cannot be deduced based on heart rate alone.
Oxygen consumption (VO2) is directly dependent on the amount of work your body does. Maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), on the other hand, is a personal value, affected by your training history and genes.
Maximum oxygen uptake will not, however, directly describe an athlete's performance level. This is because performance is to a large degree determined by how close to the maximum level the athlete is able to maintain his or her performance throughout the entire session, and by how economical the performance is. Economy of performance means how much of the oxygen consumed by the athlete's body actually converts into the performance.
Oxygen consumption of different levels of endurance training as a percentage of the athlete's maximum oxygen uptake: %VO2max
< 30% - daily physical activities, very light aerobic training
< 50% - light to moderate pace, basic endurance training
< 75% - moderate to hard pace, hard endurance training
> 75% - very hard, VO2max training
Heart rate can be used to reliably measure improvements in your fitness level. When you perform a familiar standard exercise and improve your time while the heart rate remains the same, it is a sign of improved fitness. Lower heart rate with the same time also indicates improved fitness. As your fitness improves, ventilation and respiratory rate are also reduced during a standard exercise.
Oxygen consumption, however, will remain more or less the same or slightly decrease in a standard exercise, while the maximum level of oxygen consumption will increase along with the fitness.
When muscles perform work, they consume energy. The most important energy sources for muscles are carbohydrates and fats. The energy contained in carbohydrates and fats is released for use in the muscles in a combustion reaction, for which the muscles require oxygen. Thus, the energy consumption of your body is directly proportional to oxygen consumption.
Suunto t6's computer analysis provides two data points of the energy consumption of a given training exercise. The momentary energy consumption kcal/min is a graphical indicator of how the energy consumption varied during training. Total energy consumption indicates how much energy in total was consumed during the exercise. Information about energy consumption offers several possibilities for improving your performance. It allows you to plan the energy replenishment required during long-duration exercises and the pre-training loading. If you aim to lose weight, you can also estimate whether your total consumption is at a sufficient level to reach your goal.
Unlike earlier heart rate based methods for measuring energy consumption, the Suunto t6 measures energy consumption from the entire range of heart rates, from rest to maximum. This enables the measurement of energy consumption from everyday activity and daily tasks as well, even for the entire day.
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