Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry Testing (Body Composition)
The DEXA test is the most effective means of evaluating one's health, diet, and workout routine by way of measuring changes in one's body composition. The measurement of percent body fat is widely used in sports medicine as another determinate of athletic performance and general health. The ideal weight of an individual is made up of the person's total weight and the ratio of lean mass (muscle mass) to fat mass. Consideration in determining an ideal weight includes the natural endowment and basic physical structure of the individual plus the type of activities in which he or she competes. Considered the gold standard for measuring body composition and bone mineral density, the DEXA scan provides precise measurements and can evaluate one's fat mass by body segment (arms, legs, trunk, android, gynoid, etc.). This test is conducted for both teams and individuals.
Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
Even when at rest, the body uses energy for all the hidden functions to keep an individual alive (breathing, organ function, blood circulation, hormone levels, etc.). The Resting Metabolic Rate test provides individuals with the number of calories they burn to maintain those functions, as if the individual were to lie in bed with no activity for a 24-hour period. This information can be crucial when building a nutritional plan. The more muscle mass an individual has, the higher their RMR will be; however, in some cases individuals will lower their caloric intake to well below their RMR to attempt to lose weight. As a result of using this diet plan, the body will go into survival mode and utilize muscle mass as an energy source due to the lack of consuming energy; which leads to lowering overall muscle mass while predominately keeping fat mass. This means that the weight lost is primarily muscle mass while fat mass relatively remains the same and will ultimately lead to a higher percent body fat and a lower RMR. The information given from a RMR test will aid individuals in understanding how many calories to consume in rder to lose, maintain, or gain weight, as well as, how many grams & percentage of each macronutrient should be consumed on a daily basis.
Maximal Aerobic Capacity (VO2max)
Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) is a primary determinate of endurance performance and provides important information on the capacity of the long-term aerobic energy system. This test is an 8- to 15-minute exercise test where the workload continues to increase until the athlete has achieved volitional exhaustion. The test is normally performed on a treadmill or bike (Velotron). Based on the results of this test, the athlete/individual can be provided with specific and individualized training modalities, involving heart rate, to aid in enhancing their physical and sport performance.
The two most commonly known physiological tests in exercise physiology and human performance labs are the VO2max (aerobic capacity/fitness) and Wingate (anaerobic peak power) tests. While both of these tests are useful for many athletic profiles, a majority of sports and job requirements in the military involve a great deal of anaerobic endurance. Many sports require multiple efforts of speed and power in intervals, rather than a single maximal effort or one long-sustaining effort. Using this knowledge of what is required physiologically from both intercollegiate (IC) sports at the Academy and Special Operation Forces (SOF) in the Air Force, a test was designed by the human performance staff at the Air Force Academy that closely replicates what an IC athlete or SOF soldier would have to accomplish on/in the field. By utilizing a Woodway Force II treadmill, exercise physiologists can measure how long an individual can sustain anaerobic power and whether or not an athlete or soldier’s respective training programs are improving their capacities for anaerobic endurance. Due to the origin of the anaerobic endurance test, its use is exclusive to the Human Performance Lab at the United States Air Force Academy.
Besides testing and training USAFA athletes or traveling to other Air Force bases to conduct this specific test, the HPL staff meets and works with several other military organizations on how to perform the Anaerobic Endurance test with or without access to the Woodway Force II.
Maximal Anaerobic Power (Wingate)
Many athletic events involve short bursts of maximal effort utilizing energy that is stored in the muscle tissue to produce a rapid burst of power. This energy supply is rapidly depleted during maximal effort, usually within 30 seconds of the start of the activity. The Wingate anaerobic test involves a 15- to 30-second all-out effort with either the arms or legs on a cycle ergometer and provides the athletes' peak power, average power, rate of fatigue and total work performed. It is very repeatable and an athlete can be evaluated several times throughout the year to measure changes in anaerobic power that occurred during specific training periods.