what is it and how to do it

In this article, we talk about one method available to determine the anaerobic threshold – the load increase test, or Conconi’s test.

What is PANO

To establish a running training plan, it is useful to know not only the heart rate and pace indicators, but also the anaerobic metabolic threshold (ANOT) – the level of training intensity when the running speed and heart rate have reached high values, and lactate accumulates in the blood so quickly that the body does not have time to produce it.

When you work for a long time on a pulse higher than PANO, the muscles “acidify”, it is difficult to breathe, you feel tired – it is already difficult to maintain the rhythm and, moreover, to rise again, we want to stop.

The concentration of lactate in this case reaches 4 mmol per liter of blood. Such accurate data can only be obtained by laboratory analysis, and in the field you can find out the TAN using the Conconi test.

Related Podcast: What is Anaerobic Metabolic Threshold and How to Develop It

What is the Conconi test

The Conconi test (emphasis on the second “o”) is work with gradually increasing intensity.

It helps to know the pulse and working speed at which the threshold of anaerobic metabolism is reached, which means that anaerobic glycolysis is running in the body. In this mode, it is difficult for the body to work for a long time, the oxygen debt increases, the process of “acidification” begins, and the efficiency of running decreases.

The Conconi test is used to determine the ANSP. This value is pushed back when they make plans for all types of training – basic, tempo, interval. It is knowledge, which contains information about the capabilities of the organism, close to the limit.

Coaches and experienced runners believe that training in zones calculated by TAN score leads to gradual and steady progression without injury or setbacks, and they can also be used to choose tactics for running.

Conconi's Anaerobic Threshold Test: What It Is and How to Do It
You can do the Conconi test yourself

The test will determine the quality of the aerobic base. If the points go up on the graph and the lines do not bend, it means that the aerobic base is not yet sufficient or that the test was poorly done.

Conconi’s test has been criticized for its inaccuracy, but it remains an accessible method for measuring and generally understanding the body’s limits. For recreational runners who won’t be doing lab tests, it’s helpful to know this threshold to better understand how they’re feeling.

Appearance history

Francesco Conconi is an Italian sports doctor and the creator of the test that bears his name. In 1984, under his leadership, Italian cyclist Francesco Moser set the world record for distance in one hour – he became the first cyclist to overcome the 50-kilometer mark during this time.

After 10 years, still under the leadership of Konkoni, he set another world record – he covered 51 km 840 meters in one hour.

Conconi proposed the test in 1982, and Moser became the subject of a successful experiment and theory on the “maximum steady state” point and ANSP area formation.

Since then, the Conconi test has been widely used, but also much criticized for the imprecision of the result. Therefore, Conconi, together with his colleagues, published refined research methods. Indeed, obtaining accurate data on the TAN of the athlete from the Conconi test requires a rather complex approach and ideal breeding conditions.

However, the beauty of the test is that it is available for field use – i.e. you can do it yourself and get a general idea of ​​the ANSP.

How to lead

For the test, you will need:

  • A section of road, a stadium or a simulator, where it will be possible to measure equal segments without changing the conditions of unevenness, change of terrain, tight turns.
  • Stopwatch.
  • Pulsometer.
  • External conditions – for example, on the street, it is better to conduct a test in calm weather.

After a general warm-up, the athlete begins the test, the data is recorded, then a schedule is drawn up.

  • To perform the test, the athlete runs in segments equal in time or distance, gradually increasing the working speed and setting the pulse for each section. The test continues until it is physically impossible to increase the speed further.
  • If everything is done correctly, the pulse should increase at the same intervals for each segment, and at some point its increase will be slower and more regular, approaching the maximum. When the pulse reaches 180-200 beats per minute, the test ends.
  • The test data – segment + pulse + speed – is saved. A graph is compiled from them: the impulse is indicated on the vertical Y axis, and the segment velocity is indicated on the horizontal X axis.
  • The points are applied to the graph itself – pulse rate data for each segment. At some point the dots will begin to deviate to the right – this is when the pulse began to grow gently.
  • Then two straight lines are drawn from the points. One of them goes through the stitches until the pulse deviates to the right. The second line is drawn along the points that deviate to the right. The place of their intersection is the anaerobic exchange point, or the ANPO point.
Conconi's test for determining the anaerobic threshold: what it is and how to do it
Your test graph will look like this

Conconi test for runners

It is best for runners to take the Conconi test in a stadium with a track length of 200 or 400 meters. According to science, to pass the test, it is enough to follow the pulse in segments of 200 meters, and it is purely visually easier to follow it at the stadium. In addition, the stadium is a flat track and the same conditions.

  • Start the test with a light warm-up: joint gymnastics and two or three rounds of jogging around the stadium.
  • Start the test itself at low speed on the pulse of a light jog.
  • Every 200 meters, increase the pace so that the time to pass the next segment is reduced by 2 seconds.
  • Make cuts with the watch button or make sure in advance that this happens automatically.
  • The Conconi test, as a rule, lasts 3-4 kilometers, ends at the time when it is no longer possible to increase the speed further, and the pulse is 180-200 beats per minute.
  • Don’t forget the hitch.
  • Then plot this data on a graph, where on the Y axis count the pulse, and on the X axis count the speed or time with which the next 200 meters were covered.
  • Place dots on the graph – heart rate data for each segment. At some point, the points will begin to deviate to the right, and the pulse will gradually increase, tending to the maximum.
  • Then draw two straight lines from the points. One of them goes through the stitches until the pulse deviates to the right. The second line is drawn along the points that deviate to the right. The place of their intersection is the anaerobic exchange point, or the ANPO point.

The hardest part of the test for runners is to really gradually increase the speed of the sections. Be careful not to accelerate too fast, otherwise the test results will be inaccurate. In this case, a treadmill may be the best option.

Conconi test for cyclists

The best way for cyclists to perform the Conconi test effectively is with a training bike.

  • Warm up on a bike at an easy pace for 10-15 minutes. Immediately determine the pedaling power in which it is comfortable to work.
  • Subtract 20W from this power.
  • Segments on a bike rack are minutes. Every minute, start adding 10W, remembering to record the pulse for each segment.
  • Work like this, adding 10W each, until the next power increase is impossible – that is, until failure.
  • Don’t forget to do a sunset.
  • Based on these data, according to the already described scheme, create a chart, and the turning point on it will become the ANSP point.

Calculation of training zones according to the Conconi test

Knowing the anaerobic threshold, you can calculate heart rate zones and build a training plan based on them. In this case, the ANSP heart rate is taken as a value of 100% – not to be confused with the maximum heart rate zones.

  • It is conditionally possible to accept the division into three pulse zones – warm-up, aerobic, anaerobic.
  • A more difficult scheme recognizes the allocation of five pulse zones – warm-up, 2 and 3 aerobic zones, 4 and 5 anaerobic zones.
  • In the first warm-up zone, a warm-up and hitch, recovery work is performed. After working on it, you can perform joint gymnastics and stretching. That’s 70-80% of the ANSP pulse.
  • In the second and third zones, the athlete’s base is being built. You should spend most of the training time there. In the aerobic zone, the cardiovascular system is trained, the capillary network develops, muscles, ligaments and joints are strengthened. This is 80-95% of the ANSP pulse.
  • The fourth and fifth developing zones are anaerobic. These are areas for tempo and speed training, areas for developing strength, endurance and speed, and also an increase in that very ANPO. That’s 95-110% of the ANSP pulse.

Read next: Low heart rate running: how and why to train at low intensity