By Uphill Athlete co-founders Steve House and Scott Johnston

You’ve decided to get tested! Great. This can provide useful, actionable information about your metabolism and helps set a baseline which if you choose to re-test in the future will demonstrate the effectiveness of the training work you’ll do.

We ask that you send this letter the clinician conducting the test prior to your arriving for your test. This text explains what we want to learn from these tests and why.

Aerobic Threshold.

We are primarily interested in determining your aerobic threshold first (AeT), and anaerobic threshold (often called MLSS, Maximum Lactate Steady State) is of secondary interest. (We will be more interested in AnT/MLSS down the road).

Not Vo2 Max.

The sports we coach, climbing, mountaineering, ski mountaineering, and ultra-distance-running are very long duration activities lasting all day and often multiple days, sometimes without rest. During these events the athletes in these sports rarely work at an intensity that requires them to be tapping into their anaerobic systems very much. Mountaineers do not have a race-pace. As such, VO2max is of no interest to us whatsoever. But we have yet to see a lab that didn’t end up producing that result.

Treadmill not bike.

As we do most, if not all, of our aerobic capacity-building work on foot, a test utilizing a treadmill is preferable to a bike- based test.

Warm up.

Please allow a long warm up to allow the athlete’s aerobic system time to fully warm up and come on-line. We often advise our clients to ‘pre-warm up” because many labs don’t offer enough of a warm up for the aerobic system to get going. We’ve seen tests where the subject is anaerobic at the first data point. So, if you have the patience and are willing to make sure the athlete is well warmed up, then we will leave that to your discretion. A nice slow warm up will give us all the best readings for what we’re after, which is Aerobic Threshold information.


We ask that our athletes fast for 4 hours prior to testing so we see the most accurate possible Aerobic Threshold measurement.

Good luck and Happy Testing.

Here is a PDF of this article:  Uphill Athlete Lab Guidelines

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