REVIEW INSCYD Power-Performance Decoder. Your virtual lab.

REVIEW INSCYD Power-Performance Decoder. Your virtual lab.

Why visit an expensive lab, when you can get the same results – and more – with your own smart trainer or power meter? With that question in mind, INSCYD recently launched their virtual lab: Power-Performance Decoder (PPD).

Multiple professional teams like Jumbo Visma, CCC Team (Greg van Avermaet), Alpecin-Fenix (Mathieu van der Poel) already work with INSCYD, but should you?

If you want to train effectively, it is important to understand how your body works. Training zones are a good example of how knowledge about your body can immediately improve your training effectiveness. If you want to train your endurance capacity for instance, you need to train in the right training zones to get those results.

The golden standard of testing performance and getting to know your training zones is a VO2max lab test in which you measure oxygen uptake. INSCYD wondered if it is necessary to drive to a lab, take the test and wait for the results. Especially since a lot of endurance athletes already have their own virtual lab when using a power meter or smart trainer (cyclists). They created the first and only tool on the market that accurately captures all the data you would get in a lab – and more – in a simple and easy to perform field test.

Power-Performance Decoder

I personally experienced that performing the test is very easy. I received a PDF file that explained everything about the test protocol which contains 4 intervals: 20 seconds, 3 minutes, 6 minutes, 12 minutes. I chose to do the intervals at my smart trainer (indoor), but you can do them anywhere if you have a power meter. INSCYD did recommend to do all 4 intervals in the same conditions: indoor/outdoor, same bike, same power meter.

The Power-Performance Decoder is like a remote controller, and nowadays crucial to give us coaches an insight in the riders their actual level.

Coach of Mathieu van de Poel and Team Alpecin FENIX, Kristof de Kegel

I personally chose to spread the intervals over 2 days. You could also combine them in one protocol which will cost you less than 90 minutes. At day one I did a 3-minute interval in the afternoon. At the same day I also performed a 6-minute interval in the evening. The next day I performed a 12 minute and a 20 seconds interval.

Results

As mentioned before, you will get the same results – and more – as in a professional lab. The PPD takes into account your body composition. It also takes into account that men and women are physiologically different. I will dive into some of these results deeper in upcoming articles, but let’s have an overall look.

VLamax

How fast can you produce lactate? This is a measure for your anaerobic capacity and will tell you something about your sprint performance. The higher your VLamax, the better your sprint. But don’t get too excited: we all know that the best sprinter is often not the best endurance athlete ;)! You can’t have it all. Obviously your 20 seconds interval, together with your body composition, determines your VLamax.

You really know what you need to work on if you know your VLamax

Coach of Jan Frodeno and Anne Haug, Dan Lorang

VO2max

If you want to have long-lasting energy, you’ll need oxygen. VO2max tells you how much oxygen your body is able to take up for energy production. The higher the better. Since you can reach your VO2max within less than 3 minutes, the 3-minute interval is an important indicator to determine your VO2max.

Anaerobic Threshold

This marks the intensity at which your lactate production is as high as your lactate clearance. It’s therefore the highest possible intensity which you can sustain without accumulating lactate. Since VLamax tells us something about our lactate production and VO2max about the ability to combust lactate, those two parameters together determine your anaerobic threshold. Although it is not exactly the same, some call this intensity your FTP (functional threshold power).

FATmax

How much energy can you combust per hour from fat? The higher your FATmax, the less carbohydrates you need to burn. Since the amount of carbohydrates in your muscles is limited, a high FATmax is beneficial for endurance events.

The intensity at which FATmax happens is also interesting when your goal is to lose weight or to train your FATmax (endurance). The intensity at which FATmax occurs is also the intensity at which you clear the highest amount of lactate, which improves recovery.

CARBmax

You can only eat/drink 90 gram of carbohydrates per hour. Simple because this is the maximum possible uptake of your body. CARBmax is the intensity (power) at which you burn 90 gram of carbohydrates per hour. In other words: if your intensity is below CARBmax, then you can eat/drink more energy then you are burning. If your intensity is above CARBmax, over time you will deplete your carbohydrates.

Training zones, metabolic fingerprint, and more…

Accuracy

Of course the first question I had was the same question you have: are the results accurate? INSCYD claims that the results are as accurate as laboratory testing. Because they have a large database of “golden standard” VO2max tests, lactate tests and PPD tests, they are able to see how accurate they are. But to be sure, I took my own data to compare.

With the help of the INSCYD software I have been able to cater my training to my own unique energy systems, and tailor that plan to be efficient at the races and durations that I want to excel at.

Lionel Sanders –Pro Triathlete

In all honesty, I performed my last VO2max test (measuring oxygen uptake) 6 years ago when I was still racing my bike. I’m sure I was a bit fitter back then, but I compared the results to see if the numbers are as I would expect.

If you take into account that I was racing in 2014 – which I’m not anymore – I think the results fit my expectations surprisingly perfect! If you want to read more about the PPD validation I highly recommend reading this review of PhD Exercise Physiologist Tero Joutsen.

INSCYD testing especially helps my coaches to help create the best training programs for us.

Primoz Roglic, Winner Vuelta d’Espagna 2019

Perform the test yourself

My personal positive experience with the Power-Performance Decoder was the start of a collaboration between Molab and INSCYD. If you want to have your own results, you can buy the test via our webshop and I will help you in performing the test and interpreting the results. The only thing you need is a smart trainer (at home or in your local gym) or a power meter. Feel free to ask any question via contact.  

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