Recently, my metabolism while exercising and pedaling efficiency were tested at the home of my triathlon coach. Exercise physiologist, Darvin McBrayer (standing), attached me to a breathing mask, data transmitter, and heart monitor while I rode my bike on a CompuTrainer enabled stationary trainer. The testing equipment is as sophisticated and accurate as the equipment used in science labs and it is mobile. As such, the athlete can be tested anywhere... even on the road.
The test data pinpointed the exact heart rate and perceived exertion level when my body used carbohydrates as its primary source of fuel. By measuring my calorie burn rate and the ratios of calories from carbohydrates, proteins, and fat Darvin can "see" what my body is using nutritionally. Now my workouts can be tailored to the exact heart rate zones to maximize fat burning and carbohydrate conservation.
My coach, Todd Codish, took various measurements of my leg and knee angles plus seat position to find the optimal position for power efficiency. He found that by moving my seat forward a few millimeters I would produce the same amount of pedaling power with less exertion than when the seat was set in its original neutral position. Additional future testing will reveal that sweet spot of maximum power, comfortable body position, and optimal energy efficiency.
Also, Darvin and I appear on the SimplyStu triathlon podcast episode #23. Darvin gives a detailed explanation of the metabolic testing and how it benefits his athletes. If you haven't heard Stu's podcast you're really missing some great information about the sport of triathlon.