My lab testing and Questions (VERY aerobically deficient?)

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  • #69792

    Hey guys, yesterday I did a lab test to obtain my aerobic threshold. It went well, but I was surprised at my results. I expected my aerobic threshold to be around 130-140, as that feels super easy for me and i can go on several hours at that heart rate at slow miles (but haven’t improved pace 🙁  ).    If this matters, I probably could have kicked the intensity up one more time and gone for another 3 minute round. So I anticipate my max hr is higher than where we stopped (189 bpm)

    PHOTOS OF LAB RESULTS (3 photos):

    Training Background:-Currently 31, male, 170lb, 5’11”-Active growing up. Went “hard” at everything I did (that’s how you get better, right? /s). Went to a military college, same deal. All runs and workouts were typically all out. I was probably well above aerobic threshold in everything I did. Including lifting! I powerlifted during college, but we also had lots of other workouts, that at the time I thought were “aerobic” (they probably were aerobic  for others, but not me with my low aerobic threshold! That being said, I could typically keep up)

    -Few years after graduating found Maffetone. Thought it made everything click and make sense. From then on, on and off over the last few years, I would do mostly easy runs and a long run at a heart rate between 130-145. Would always drop it after several to a few months over lack of progress. Perhaps I was going too fast, based upon my lab results. Built up to 20 miles/week on a few occasions, and 30 miles/week once. These miles were typically done at a pace of 15:00-16:00 miles to keep my heart rate 130-145.

    -So my Aerobic Threshold should be about 111 bpm? If so, I will spend a few months doing my workouts/walking below that heart rate
    -Why can I still nose breathe and talk fine at like 140 bpm?
    -The test was done in a cool indoor lab. Outside conditions are often more hot and humid, which can have a big effect on heart rate. Should I alter/lower my intensities to maintain heart rate targets? In other words, does the  Aerobic Threshold shift to the right on the x axis during increased temperature and humidity?
    -Do my results and training background explain why I have seemingly not really improved anything from 400m to 5k fast pace, to breathing hard going up a few flights of stairs, to pace ran during “easy” runs (my easy runs honestly felt easy, but my heart rate was usually in the 130-145 range. Just didn’t get much faster at those heart rates over time)
    -Would my low aerobic threshold/poor aerobic fitness potentially cause general fatigue, higher blood pressure? Just curious on the crossovers for health vs poor aerobic fitness.
    -Being that my aerobic threshold is so low (I believe 111 bpm)…. why wouldn’t it improve just during day to day activities, since my HR would seemingly be in Z1 or Z2? Yesterday I did my first “aerobic” workout, trying to keep my HR between 100-111. It was a 40 minute walk outside, so my new workouts are going from extremely slow jogging to walking. 
    -Over time, before getting another lab test, should I Increase the heart rate I train at, under the assumption that my aerobic threshold will increase over time? For example, every month, should I increase my heart rate training ceiling by something like 2 bpm? And then do another lab test in a year?
    -I guess I shouldn’t do strides at this point? I used to do them sometimes after an “easy for me but aka probably too fast” run, and it’d put my heart rate around 120-135.
    -I guess I also shouldn’t start back up with lifting at this point, until my aerobic threshold is higher? I bet almost any lifting will put my heart rate in the 120-140 zone.
    -Anecdote from college: Could hit a 10:30 min 1.5 mile at my best, so a 7:00 pace. However, my 1 miles was closer to 6 minutes, I just hit a big wall at that point. I assume the big spread between 1 mile pace and 1.5 mile pace was due to poor aerobic fitness?
    -Is my anaerobic threshold about 160ish? I guess lab isnt the best way to figure that out.
    -The doctor had a theory about why my fat/carb usage gets weird around 130-145…. is it because I spent a lot of time training at those heart rates the last several years?
    -Any other thoughts on my results or how I should be training?

  • Participant
    Jeremy on #69857


    I read your post and a lot of what you said I can relate. I did almost completely anaerobic training prior to UA. Came from a background of martial arts kick boxing and and boxing where you trained all out all the time.

    I discovered Maffetone and pretty much diagnosed myself as aerobic deficient. Following his pace I could hardly walk up a steep hill without going over the threashold. I got the breath exchange test done at the local university and came with numbers a bit higher than Maffetone.

    I used those numbers and followed the UA program. After about a year I can hike up the same hill with 30 lbs on my back, a faster pace, and hardly ever going over aerobic threshold. My point is this stuff works.

    It could be that the test result were off. I would recommend the heart rate drift test as it is accurate and can be repeated easily. I doubt you’re going to do the gas exchange test every month.

    I know that UA has had good results with people that have a highly developed anaerobic system and poor aerobic system, which seems like yourself it seems.

    Good luck


    slowandsteady on #69948

    thanks Jeremy. Have been just going on walks with my heart rate between 100-111 bpm.

    The plan will be to bump up mileage a bit every week…. and raise the ceiling on my heart rate every week. So next week I’ll try and stay below 112 bpm. So in about 5 months, under the assumption that my aerobic threshold is slowly rising, I’ll stay below 130ish.

    Hopefully my aerobic threshold can improve that quickly.

    Cory from Wisconsin on #70034

    Hi Slowandsteady,

    I’m no expert, but I am surprised at your low aerobic threshold (AeT) results and would be very interested to see one of the coaches weigh in if there could be a methodology issue that may be throwing off your lab results. Using MAF a 31 year old should have an AeT of 149 (the formula is 180 minus your age), which would be closer to the nose breathing you reported at 140. As Jermey mentioned you may want to conduct a drift test to check the results of your labs – if there is a discrepancy I would go with the drift/nose breathing indication since the lab result was so low and may be suspect.

    Also you mentioned needing to avoid lifting in your post because it could drive your HR above your AeT. Lifting is NOT an AeT driven activity and you needn’t worry about keeping your HR in Zone 2. There will be a lot of variation during lifting sets in which there may be full body sets that push your HR into Zone 3 and then you quickly settle into Zone 1 or 2 during the recovery period. And other sets may not spike the HR very high, but have a high local muscle fatigue. Just be sure to continue with a high volume of aerobic work (Z1/Z2) in addition to your lifting/strength work. I think I’ve seen the coaches recommend that those with ADS spend 90% of their training volume in Z1/Z2, so adjust accordingly. That could require dialing back your strength sessions or it could be increasing low intensity volume – just pay attention to your body and make sure you are recovering.

    Good luck,

    Dada on #70127


    I would register here: and put in your numbers. Play with the different concepts and check if they are in the same ballpark.

    Do you a history of metabolic syndromes in your family?

    To me, your estimates seem to be correct. Do you have absolute data about your max fat oxidation in grams?


    Jeremy on #70162

    Hello Dada.

    Im curious why you asked about metabolic syndromes in the family? Can you expand on this?



    Dada on #70196


    It seems that you barely burn fat according to your data. Metabolic syndrome is often associated with a lack of metabolic flexibility aka the ability to burn fat.


    slowandsteady on #70299

    Thanks everyone. I do have the raw data (with grams of fat) packed away somewhere but can’t find it out…. I’ve been in the process of moving. I do have some metabolic issues. I think a lot of it is from drinking too much so I’m working on cutting that out, and may try keto for a while.

    Anyways, I started training again several days ago. Am just walking on a steady 3 deg incline every day. And twice on Saturday and a “long” walk on Sunday. Every week I will slightly increase the time. Also, every week I will increase the max I allow my heart rate to go by 1bpm under the assumption my aerobic threshold is improving. There are still some occasional seemingly random spikes, but hey, that happens. So after a few months of this I’ll test again and hopefully see large improvement. I’m being SUPER conservative so not doing weights for now or anything that will spike my hr above aerobic threshold.

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