Game Changer

by Jun 1, 2021Uncategorized0 comments

Initial experience and impressions using my new VM Pro, from VO2master

I have been waiting a while to get my hands on the VM Pro mobile metabolic testing unit for looking at Base Metabolic Rates, VO2max, and so much more. I can honestly say I could not be more excited with the unit, both in the ways that I expected to be, but also in areas that I had not even thought of before beginning work with the unit. The more I use it the more excited I get with its capabilities, and what the unit means to my business and the athletes that I work with. Using the VM Pro got be thinking as to the technological advancements over the years and what these continual steps forward mean to endurance coaches and coaching in general.

When I started coaching back in the early 90s the amount of tech that was available to us as coaches was limited to heart rate monitors, stop watches and a keen eye. That was pretty much all we had to work with. As time has progressed, we have gone through several periods that I would consider “Game Changers.” The technology we now use, and the effect that those technological advancements have had towards the performance gains of our athletes is simply amazing. In endurance sports where the difference between winning and being an “also ran” can be decided by mere seconds, everything matters! 

Over the years I have been coaching we have seen huge advancements. With each advancement it has allowed us to coach with more accuracy and has allowed us to understand our athletes in greater detail. This has led to better results and more consistent performances.

The more we know the less mistakes we make! With this in mind it is hard to advance without embracing new technologies, especially if it means better end results. Can you coach without the advantages that these modern technologies bring to coaching? Sure, but if the goal is “Greatest amount of improvement, in the least possible time, with the least possible risk to the athlete”, then no I do not think you can. I know you will find a lot of coaches out there saying you do not need a lot of tech, but to have the information and not need it, is infinitely better than to need it and not have it. From my experience those coaches who say they like to keep things simple and avoid modern tech are just simply afraid to learn. This is often because they do not fully understand the benefits and therefore are not prepared to put the work in, which then begs the question about commitment to the craft. If there is one thing above all else that I have learned from almost 30 years of coaching, it is that if you do not keep moving forward and current with modern tech you will be left behind.

Most of the mistakes we make with training athletes is because we make assumptions based on what we think we know, only to find out that those assumptions that we were working off were false. Each meaningful advancement in modern technology for coaching has come in one of two forms. Firstly, It has provided us more information about an athlete, leading to more informed decisions with regard to training prescription. This then allows us to fine tune training for better results in faster time. The second is in improved efficiency, giving us the ability to increase the speed of communication of information back and forth between athletes and ourselves. The flow on effect of this is that it allows us to focus on going into more depth with the athletes we have, or alternatively to take on more athletes.

The introduction of the unit into my own coaching is a Game Changer. When we only use to have Heart Rate Monitors it was routine for us to send performance athletes to get lab tested 2-4 times per year to look at things like lactate threshold, Vo2max and other physiological metrics. However, as we have begun to introduce GPS, Power Meters and other tech into our coaching programs we have moved away from Lab based testing. Some of this shift has been driven by the assumption that with all the other data we have we no longer need to do in-depth physiological testing. There is also the associated cost of testing, as 4 trips to the lab each year will cost over $1000 per athlete and is often difficult to schedule into a training program. Finally, because a lot of coaches do not come into endurance coaching from a formal physiological education background, traditional lab testing has not only been difficult for coaches to interpret but also hard to implement into training. 

The use of the unit in the short time I have had it looks like it will be a revolutionary shift in how I coach, especially with high performance athletes and elites. I can also see that it will quickly become a critical tool for coaches looking to create additional value for their clients and create a point of difference between what one coach offers above and beyond what others can.

So why is it such a game changer and why am I so adamant about including it with what I do moving forward? Quite simply, it brings back lab-based accuracy in a practical sport specific way, while simultaneously addressing the reasons most coaches and athletes moved away from lab-based testing in the first place. The unit I am using makes it easy and cost effective to test key physiological metrics that I need to know to train athletes to their full potential, without having to make assumptions. It also allows me to run a full VO2max test either in a controlled indoor environment or go mobile and take it outdoors, leading to greater sport specific application. I can run the test with both set up and clean up in less than an hour at any time I choose which allows me to schedule as much testing into an athlete’s planning as I feel is needed. I can also do it in a way that fits with their training schedule rather than a labs. All of the technology is built into the VM Pro so you can literally test on yourself if you choose to, without assistance. This is not something that was possible before. This then opens up the possibility for athletes to own and operate their own units. Finally, its simple to use, having come from a lab background and knowing how temperamental lab equipment can be the unit is refreshingly simple to use and to interpret the data from. 

Over the coming months I will be going into more depth as to how I use the VM Pro in a practical way with my athletes and within my business. Knowing the knowable and not having to guess information that was once only capable coming out of a lab will change the nature of how we coach dramatically. While embracing new technology can often seem scary, especially with the pace at which new technologies keep advancing. It doesn’t have to be. If you keep your athletes’ performances front and center to your coaching goals and embrace the technologies that allow you to do a better job and achieve better results, then you will always be heading in the right direction.