Who's really in your class?

Do you look up at a room full of smiling, fit, self-directed, endurance athletes?

Or does your class more closely resemble the population where you live?

In Part 1 I shared survey results that showed that a 20 Minute Threshold Field Test isn't realistic (maybe practical would be a better word) for where most of us we teach - which is primarily large health clubs.

I also stated that;

It”™s well documented that a 20 minute Threshold Field Test is effective in determining an Athlete”™s T2 (Anaerobic/Lactate Threshold) or FTP (Functional Threshold Power).

Are we training real Athletes in our classes?

I now see that asking an additional question on the HR training survey regarding class makeup would have been helpful in getting a true understanding of class makeup. So please permit me to make this assumption based on personal experience of 15 years teaching (and attending classes) at small studios, large "Big Box" clubs and conversations with hundreds of Instructors; the majority of our students are what could be described as "Club Athletes" who attend class or workout 2-4 times a week. My observation is that a very small percentage <15% are true endurance athletes. Of course every class or club is different. Class format and the time of year has a large bearing on class composition. For example my 90 minute endurance classes in the winter are > 70% endurance athletes... but then that class is designed specifically for them.

The purpose of a 20 minute field test is to determine an accurate Threshold HR for the purpose of setting HR training zones. These HR zones will be used to structure training intensities for weeks or months in the future.

In an early post I talked about using your Heart Rate Monitor as a GPS instead of a Speedometer. I was trying to reinforce something that you already know; maintaining an effort at, or very close to, Threshold for any length of time is painful and difficult for anyone. Like you, Amy and I fall somewhere in that upper 15%. If we choose to, we could ride at a consistent RPE that we feel is our threshold for 20 minutes, for the purpose of determining our Threshold HR and be pretty close.

But what about the other 85% of the students in our classes? How many could maintain a true Threshold RPE over a 20 minute Threshold Field Test?


What happens to the accuracy of the test if your students are finding, over the course of the 20 minute test, a HR average that's somewhere in the middle of T1 & T2?

Fast forward a week, post field test.

All right class, You tell them, I want everyone to build their intensity to Threshold and we will keep it there for 4 minutes. Those students who made it to your Field Test last week are watching the numbers climb on their monitors to their newly determined Threshold HR. Except they find after a few minutes, they aren't really feeling the Threshold signals you are describing. Do they:

A. Ignore the physical clues (RPE) and go with the HR number you told them was their tested Threshold HR?


B. Ignore the Field Tested HR and instead push harder till they are feeling the physical Threshold clues you described?

As I see it:

Option A. Has them under training = missing out on potential fitness improvements.


Option B. Causes confusion and has some questioning why they took the test to begin with.

What's your experience?

Here's Part 3


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