Arctic Challenge / Challenge Journal / Training / Motivation

Fitness testing with The Arctic V and Chemmy Alcott at Kingston University

By Vicky Anscombe

On a cold, rainy evening in November, we headed to Kingston University's Sport, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences Department to meet up with former Olympic athlete Chemmy Alcott and a few members of The Arctic V. Just in case you'd forgotten, The Arctic V are comprised of Chemmy, Max Willcocks, Chris Brooks, Adam Libbey and Richard Gibbs.

The first test (of sorts) was the Bod Pod, a machine that measures the ratio of fat to muscle in athletes. Chemmy, Max and Chris each took their turn to sit perfectly still for 30 seconds while the machine took their measurements; no waving or talking is allowed, as it affects the results, which some members of the team found challenging. Chris, we're talking about you.

Sport Scientist and Exercise Physiology Technician Chris Howe explained the technical part. "What the Bod Pod does is measure body composition, so it looks at fat and muscle percentage and air displacement," he explained. "After we see the results, we can talk to the athletes about their results, and what they need to do to improve their performance, if appropriate."

Chemmy decided to take her fitness test first, on an exercise bike, and was given a resting blood lactate measurement to see how her muscles were working in periods of rest. All of the athletes were given these - and post-workout blood tests, to check to see that they'd worked hard enough.

"What we're doing with Chemmy is a standard VO2 max test," Chris Howe explained. "We're going to increase the intensity on the pedals every minute, and see how quickly Chemmy fatigues. The mask she's wearing looks at the amount of air she's breathing out, and the amount of oxygen she's able to breathe in."

After Chemmy finished her test, it was Max's turn. Taking to the professional-looking treadmill, he undertook a series of increasingly-hard runs, with blood taken every time he rested, eventually amazing the assembled athletes and sports scientists by peaking at 22km/hour.

"Max started running really lightly; about 8k/hour," Chris Howe explained. "After that, we increased the difficulty in stages. We took blood after every stage, so we could see his lactate threshold increase. Today's just a pre-test; on Saturday, Max will be running 50 miles on this treadmill! That test will let us see which fuels he uses, how he fatigues and how he paces himself."

Next to board the treadmill was Chris Brooks, otherwise known as the man who pulled funny faces in the Bod Pod. His test was shorter than Max's, as both athletes were given different tests to find out their VO2 readings. Blood was taken, readings were made, and Chris completed his fitness test with flying colours in around 12 minutes.


So, how did the three athletes fare? Chris Howe and his colleague Dr Hannah Moir are confident that they're training well for the Arctic Circle Race, so that's very good news.

New to skiing? Click here to get Chemmy's advice on which boots are right for you.

Still seeking motivation? Here are Chemmy's eight best tips on how to achieve your goals.


Training Motivation Chemmy Alcott The Arctic V The Arctic Circle Race

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