Our local university offers, through their Human Kinesiology Department, a body comp and VO2 max test, and it was just a little over 2 years ago (October 22, 2008) that I participated in the test for the first time.
The whole shebang consists of a nutritional analysis (you turn in 2 week days and 1 weekend day of very specific eating info), determination of your fat percentage vs. lean muscle mass percentage via the Bod Pod, the VO2 max test via treadmill, and upper body strength analysis. Karen and I were both participating in the analysis, so I took my camera along for documentation purposes.
First up was the Bod Pod - determination of fat mass v. lean muscle mass. We donned these simply gorgimous body hugging suits and caps, and lined to get our height measured and get weighed.
The Bod Pod:
Once the Bod Pod has been calibrated, you get in, sit down, and sit as still as possible for two "assessments," for lack of a better word. All in all, it takes about 5 minutes and produces immediate results.
After the Bod Pod, we put our running clothes back on then headed out to get all trussed up for the VO2 max test. This consists of having those sticky patch things stuck all over your upper torso so the necessary wires can be attached.
Prior to the VO2 max test, they have you hyperventilate for 20 seconds, then they quickly take your blood pressure. While I was breathing in and out as fast as possible, I was hearing comments about the muscles in my back and how great they looked, that they were rippling. Me! With rippling muscles! Hot da-um! It's nice to know that some of that strength training is starting pay off! Also, with regard to hyperventilating - it produces quite the rush. I highly recommend it to everybody!
During the VO test, they monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, do an EKG, other "things," and, of course, your oxygen intake and output. After a walk/jog warm up, you get fitted with quite the charming headdress with a really comfortable rubber mouth piece and a nose pincher - something I believe all the fashionable people will be wearing soon.
Once everything's in place, the test begins. The treadmill is initially set at a 2% grade at an 11:00 mm pace, and every 2 minutes they raise the grade by 2%. Just prior to the raising, a tech asks about your comfort/pain level and another takes your blood pressure. The pain level is between 1 and 4, and the perceived effort level is between 1 (sitting on the couch) and 20 (yes, I think I'm dying).
The test continues until you call it quits. For me, it seems like things go along pretty hunky dory, then "all of a sudden" get hard. Nothing ever feels painful, but I do get extremely uncomfortable, so I have a hard time with the "pain" chart. I go until I get to the point where I feel if I continue, I'm going to blow chunks. My legs never feel tired, it's definitely all lungs (hence, VO2 max), and my exhaling comes out in very forced bursts. The whole time this is going on, though, everyone is encouraging you, telling you how great you're doing, which is really helpful. But finally enough's enough, you give 'em the "cut it" sign, and they slow you down to a stop and remove all the "gear."
During the Test:
My heart rate dropped fairly quickly, and within a minute or two, my breathing had returned to normal and I felt fine. . . . . which, of course, makes you think, "Crap! I could've gone longer!" (I'm told that's what everyone says.)
Once I was done with the treadmill, Karen hopped on and I continued with the rest of the assessment - bicep, calf, thigh, hip, and waist measurements, and upper body strength determination. Let's just say I always have had sucky upper body strength, and today it was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. However, I am very happy I managed to crank out 15 - count them, 15! - pushups. Okay, they were modified pushups, but I'll take 'em.
Part of the strength assessment is how many crunches you can do in 1 minute. You do them to the beat of a metronome, and the goal is 25 in the 1 minute. I had no problems with this, and actually did 26!
The part of the strength assessment where I really sucked was with the chest press. You do 2 presses of whatever weight is on the bar, then they add a little after each 2 presses. I managed to work my way up to 2 presses at 70 lbs., which leaves me in 35 percentile range. The techs/students, trying to be ever positive said, "Look at it this way - if you were in a room with 100 people, you'd be ahead of 35 of them!" Thanks guys.
When all is said and done, they and the professor go over your final results with you. My results show that, except for a percent here, a point there, a pound, things haven't really changed in the last two years. I'm both satisfied and disappointed at the same time. I had hoped that I would've made some progress, but at least I haven't backslid.
The Final Results - 2008 v. 2010
Percent Fat: 27.1 v 26.8
Percent Lean: 72.9 v 73.2
Est. RMR: 1,285 kcal/day v. 1,307 kcal/day (this is how many calories you burn at rest)
Fat Weight: 38.5 v 38.6 lbs.
Lean Weight: 103.7 v. 105.7 lbs.
Total Weight: 142.3 v 144.3 lbs.
RER (respiratory exchange rate) at the magic point of 1.10 was 173 two years ago, 163 this year, and if the following makes sense: 2008 - 42.2 ml/kg/min v. 40.1 ml/kg/min this year. I need all this explained to me again, but the gist of it is, I should be keeping my HR between 153 and 160.
I'm still in the "Moderately Lean" category, but I sure would love to get to the "Lean" category. It will be a couple of days before we get our nutritional analysis back, and I hope to gain some insight into what I'm doing right and wrong.
Unfortunately, due to some changes in regulations, they will no loner be able to do the VO2 max test because, if I understood them correctly, there's no physician on hand should difficulties be encountered. Rather, the treadmill test will be run to a predetermined stopping point based on your age.
Both times I've done this assessment, it's been in the "off" season, so I'd like to go back at a peak training time to see what kind of difference it makes.
If you have a university near you with a Human Performance Lab, see if they do assessments on community members. It's really a hoot and extremely informative.