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Becoming a more efficient athlete in the lab

11:17 AM, Jul 1, 2011   |    comments
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A recent visit to the CU Sports Medicine Exercise Physiology and Human Performance Lab off Colorado & I-25 saw pro cyclist Rory Sutherland pedaling away on a stationary bike. Not his typical ride, but this isn't typical training.

"We are doing a full physiological test and checking different parameters," says Dr. Inigo San Millan. "We are pretty much looking into how his body works."

Needless to say, this "training" is just as, if not even more so important, than countless hours on the road.

"I ride a bike and I do that well enough, but I'm not a sports scientist," says Rory. "While I know what I'm feeling, I don't know how my body works to the level that Inigo does"

Dr. San Millan makes his living figuring out how an athlete's body can work more efficiently. He measures countless parameters for clues.

"Those parameters include oxygen consumption, CO2 production, and metabolic parameters like how well he uses fat and how he uses carbohydrates," explains Dr. San Millan. "It gives us a very good idea of how his body works through exercise so we can then prescribe the most appropriate training programs to maximize his performance."

This particular test is Rory's fourth this year. He has learned a lot, like the fact he should eat substantially *more* during races.
"Rory has a very high metabolic rate during exercise, that's something we corrected right away," says Dr. San Millan. "He has (burns) 200-300 calories hour more per hour than other professionals. So by changing the way he needed to eat during the competition made a good impact on his performance."

"My metabolism works in a ridiculously fast manner," says Rory. "Before I probably wasn't eating enough during races, and I was running out of energy at the end. These days all I do with Inigo is eat, eat, eat all day long. Even though I seem to hold around the same weight anyway, I can make it further in races. So we've kind of cut out a big dead spot, a wasted area."

The tests speak volumes about a person, any person. This lab isn't just for the elite athlete. In fact, the everyday athlete can actually benefit more from the tests than the pros.

"People like Rory might improve like 5-10% which is huge," says Dr. San Millan. "But an average person can improve 40, 50 60%. We open the doors to the community, so not just elite athletes like Rory can do this, but people who want to do their first marathon, their first triathlon or they just want to improve their PR. Many don't know how to train, they don't know how to eat and so we can really help them a lot."

The tests can be done separately or as a package and range from $100-300. For more information, contact Dr. San Millan.

Dr. Iñigo San Millán, PhD
Director, Exercise Physiology and Human Performance Laboratory
Anschutz Health & Wellness Center
Department of Family Medicine/Sports Medicine
School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver

2000 S. Colorado Blvd, Tower 1, Suite 1000
Denver, CO 80222
Phone: (720) 848-8249
Appointments:(720) 848-8208


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