Generally speaking, most athletes do not manage to reach their personal goals or individual performance limits on their own. Performance diagnostics can offer athletes the support they need to achieve their goals. A performance diagnostic determines an athlete’s current condition and reveals information about adaptive potential. But what exactly are performance diagnostics and what aspects do they involve? We spoke to the experts from ProAthletes in Cologne and received some fascinating answers.
pjuractive: What is your incentive – why do you want to help athletes reach their optimum performance levels?
ProAthletes: Until recently, we also competed in national triathlons and Ironman events. That’s how we know what is required of endurance athletes and what the path to personal optimum performance can look like. Back then, we could have used the support of a strong partner with the necessary know-how, scientific background and extensive experience. We’d like to fill that gap in our day-to-day support of athletes.
pjuractive: Which sport disciplines do you cover, what is your focus?
ProAthletes: 90% of the athletes we assist are endurance athletes. The majority of these athletes compete in triathlons and are often very ambitious. We have most experience when it comes to triathlons, although we have also enjoyed success in our support of cyclists and runners.
pjuractive: Why are most athletes not able to achieve maximum performance levels on their own?
ProAthletes: One reason is because the training areas and training volume (intensity) required cannot be determined without conducting the appropriate performance diagnostics. Maximum performance is like walking a tightrope – it’s the small details that really make a big difference. Another reason is that there are a lot of half-truths being spread throughout the endurance sports world, which often leads to confusion. Our scientifically-based training concept allows us to put a few things straight and clear a few things up during a personal interview.
pjuractive: How do you manage to get the optimum performance out of every athlete?
ProAthletes: We begin every support program with an extensive personal interview and our athlete check (physiotherapeutic examination). This allows us to gain solid insight into what the athletes want, how much time they have available and what their physical capabilities are. We augment this first impression with ongoing diagnostics at regular intervals throughout the support program according to the sport discipline. And so it is holistic, individual support that we try to bring to life every single day.
pjuractive: What performance level are athletes at when they first undergo performance diagnostics with you?
ProAthletes: In general they are quite ambitious athletes, who are driven to pursue their goals. They are able to make tremendous progress within a short period of time. But many of the athletes have just recently begun practicing endurance sports and they want to avoid making any mistakes in their training – in other words: overtraining!
pjuractive: What kind of performance diagnostics do you use to determine the current condition of the athletes?
ProAthletes: We use a physiologically-based metabolism simulation model. It is a complex method that differentiates endurance capacities and offers enormous advantages over common methods, especially concerning the control you have over training.
pjuractive: How do performance diagnostics work?
ProAthletes: Let’s take cycling as an example: first, body fat percentage and body weight is measured. Afterwards, athletes do a 15 second sprint test, which allows the maximum lactate formation rate to be determined. Finally, an additional test is conducted that measures maximum oxygen intake. Altogether, the tests take about two hours including the follow-up and analysis.
pjuractive: Performance diagnostics don’t only include athletic aspects. What else does your support involve for athletes?
ProAthletes: That’s right! Our concept of holistic support involves everything from basic training plans to physiotherapeutic treatment, from sports psychology to bike-fitting or running analyses, and from personal training to acupuncture. We cover all facets of support.
pjuractive: To what extent can the average athlete enhance their current condition using performance diagnostics? Can you give us a rough idea?
ProAthletes: First, we have to determine their current condition and only then we can make any statement about adaptive potential and training ranges. With appropriate training, we estimate that performance can be improved by approximately 5-10 percent within 12-16 weeks. That’s why we recommend having performance diagnostics done at this interval, so that training can be adjusted to the performance level.
pjuractive: Have any athletes come to you for performance diagnostics who have already reached their optimum performance?
ProAthletes: Although we’ve already diagnosed successful Ironman champions, up to now we have been able to find development potential in every athlete. Even if these incredibly fast guys already perform really well in the diagnostics!
pjuractive: Would you also recommend performance diagnostics to beginners?
ProAthletes: Beginners should focus more on having the right equipment and most importantly on enjoying sports. Performance diagnostics can make sense over time, for example for avoiding overtraining or for creating a more effective training program.
pjuractive: Let’s say that I experience pain in my knee when I run. Can I also come to you with issues like that? And if so, what would you do to help me?
ProAthletes: That is sometimes the initial reason for seeking support. After your request, you would go straight to David, our physiotherapist, for a thorough examination. He would first examine the trouble area and then put together an exercise plan to prevent the injury from reoccurring. In addition, a running analysis would definitely be offered in this case, to help determine whether your running technique is a possible cause of the injury. Once you are able to run again without pain over a longer period of time, we would probably offer you a training session, but only if you have a specific goal, such as a competition.
pjuractive: What is one of your classic training sessions like?
ProAthletes: In personal training, you have to differentiate between training for athletics, swimming and running. These are key focal points for personal training. For swimming, we try to improve an athlete’s personal technique and therefore swim speed by using video recordings and technique exercises. The process is similar for running. For athletic training, the main focal points are flexibility, strength and agility. We concentrate on striking an appropriate balance concerning the various habitual posture issues in everyday life – such as working at a desk, and preparing a plan to offset them.
pjuractive: How much additional time do I have to plan for if you create a training plan for me?
ProAthletes: That depends first and foremost on your current performance level and how much time you are able to invest. This will be determined through performance diagnostics and a personal interview. We’re looking forward to your appointment (grin 😉 )!
pjuractive: Have you supported any well-known athletes in their training?
ProAthletes: We have been working with Johann Ackermann for the past three years, who is not only a locally-based triathlon celebrity. As the main sponsor of the Cologne triathlon team (ProAthletes KTT 01), we are also working with one of the most successful teams in the German triathlon scene. On top of that, we also support a number of up-and-coming triathlon athletes and cyclists. And we have also diagnosed triathlon athletes such as Jens Kaiser, Marion Vanhoenacker and Nils Frommhold and contributed to their training planning.
We would like to thank ProAthletes for their interview. If you are interested in performance diagnostics or training support, you can contact the ProAthletes team at firstname.lastname@example.org.