The Wattbike AtomX is the world’s most advanced indoor smart bike. Its smarts were recently put to the test by Cortex, who have been industry-leaders in the sport science field and more specifically spiroergometry and cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET), since the 1990s.
After successful tests and trials, Wattbike are proud to announce that the Wattbike AtomX can now be fully integrated with any Cortex machine to bring a world-first, affordable and controllable cycling ergometer to the sport science, medical, rehabilitation and elite sports markets.
To find out more about this integration, spiroergometry and the benefits to each market, Wattbike recently spoke with Titus Remppel, Cortex International Product Specialist.
What is Spiroergometry and CPET?
Spiroergometry involves the parallel examination of the reactions of a person’s heart, lung, vascular and metabolic systems whilst under physical stress. Using a face mask or mouthpiece, the respiratory gas is guided through a sensor that registers all the physical features of a person’s breathing, which in sport science terms is called ‘gas exchange’.
The samples from this gas exchange are then analysed using a machine, such as the Cortex MetaSoft systems, to determine a person’s respiratory volume and frequency, oxygen intake, carbon dioxide outputs and heart rate. Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPET), is then simply the name given to the test that identifies the different parameters of spiroergometry.
Footballer Troy Deeney being tested on the AtomX with Cortex at Scott Robinson Nutrition
Who are Cortex, and what do they do?
Cortex Medical have been spearheading spiroergometry and CPET in the sport science and medical fields since the 1990s. Titus states: “We like to consider ourselves the market leaders in spiroergometry; we are the best at producing little gadgets that are lightweight enough that you can wear on the body so we can measure gas exchange for a period of up to six hours. This can be done on a stationary bike, but also during long-distance skiing, climbing, or even swimming.”
Because of their innovation and accessibility, Cortex machines have been used to monitor gas exchange during research on Mount Everest and also on the International Space Station!
Why should you test individuals using CPET?
Titus states: “Any mammal needs oxygen to function, and we burn substrates (fats or carbohydrates) to make sure the energy requirements of the body are covered. When you are training aerobically, you are burning fat stores. When you are training anaerobically, you are burning carbohydrate stores. During CPET, we can measure the gas exchange rate needed to burn these two different fuels, and we can find the threshold where an individual moves from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state.”
Using CPET to identify these different thresholds has several purposes and applications:
- For medical and rehabilitation patients, the oxygen uptake can be monitored to see if it is not what it should be for a specific power output, and that allows medical professionals to know so much more about each patient. CPET can also show clear indications of heart failure before they have even presented themselves in people’s lives, and the testing can also be used for pre-op risk assessments for patients.
- For the general public, CPET can also be used as a risk-assessment to identify indicators of metabolic diseases. The different ventilatory thresholds can be used to prescribe personalised exercise as you can identify the work rate at which each individual needs to train to burn their fat stores to lose weight, or to improve their general fitness levels.
- For elite athletes, CPET can be used to specifically identify where the ventilatory thresholds are, when athletes start building up lactic acid, and how high their maximum oxygen intake is. This information can then be used to identify different training zones for each athlete so training plans can be tailored to improve aerobic or anaerobic fitness, and can be monitored over time.
CPET together with the Wattbike AtomX essentially takes the guesswork out of exercise prescription, fitness testing, and risk assessments, and provides each individual with personalised data that can be cleverly used to maximise each training session so each individual can reach their goals faster.
Triathlete Adam Bowden testing his fitness with the Cortex machine
Why the Wattbike AtomX? And why is the power output so important?
Historically within spiroergometry and fitness testing, heart rate has been used as a clear indicator of cardiopulmonary health, and also for exercise prescription. However, “heart rate on its own is not a very good parameter when it comes to controlling exercise. This is because it has a high variance that is affected by sleep, stress, caffeine intake, etc. so prescribing exercise with a power output, or a combination of power output and heart rate, is a much more solid parameter to control the exercise you are prescribing.” Titus explains.
“If I have the power output, it provides me with a second source of information. So based on the test, I can say that oxygen uptake was 1.5l/min/kg for a power output of 100W, for example. It also facilitates exercise prescription as, based on the different thresholds, I can see that a person’s basic aerobic training should be at a heart rate of 140 and a power output of no higher than 130W. This is crucial to know, because oxygen uptake is always connected to power output.
If you are doing a diagnostic test, you need the correct feedback of the power output. So having a controllable power output like the AtomX increases the possibilities of CPET and creates added value. That’s why we are so happy with the AtomX. It provides us with so much more consistency and control than other cycling ergometers, and you can actually prove it was the correct power output for each different threshold.”
British professional boxer Lawrence Okolie being put through his paces on the AtomX at Scott Robinson Nutrition
A cheaper solution
Historically, equipment in the medical and sport science fields has been really expensive and not particularly user friendly. Spiroergometry can feel and look very clinical to most people which can be quite intimidating for first time users. The Wattbike AtomX puts sport science on its head by offering incredibly modern, accurate equipment that is easy to use and actually saves you money.
Titus comments: “With the AtomX, Wattbike branches out more into the scientific area which is very interesting for us. If you look at the current market for cycling ergometers, there is a very limited number of ergometers that can actually be controlled the same way the AtomX can. The currently available ergometers are extremely expensive and not very user friendly, and most are quite dated at this point. There is nothing in between that you can use for these sorts of tests, until now with the Wattbike AtomX.”
Cortex’s newest MetaSoft Studio firmware release now includes seamless integration with the Wattbike AtomX, making CPET accessible and easy to use, and most importantly, providing the industry with an affordable, accurate cycling ergometer with a controllable power output.
Wattbike Lead Sport Scientist Eddie Fletcher comments: "The linking of the AtomX with Cortex is an exciting step forward in the development of Wattbike and the AtomX. This integration means that the AtomX can now be used to achieve both direct and indirect measurement systems to establish data. The indirect, submaximal tests provided by the Wattbike Hub app can be used to predict VO2max, maximum heart rate and training zones through an affordable and reduced risk model, as the tests are submaximal and require less effort from the individual. The direct testing option provided by the Cortex integration can also be used to determine VO2max, maximum heart rate and training zones, but it also provides a wealth of detailed, direct data perfect for sports science, research, medical and elite sport. So Wattbike now provides numerous different options for professionals to dig deeper into performance, health and fitness."
How to do it
The Wattbike AtomX is now compatible with any Cortex machine. All you have to do is download the latest MetaSoft studio software (MSS 5.12) from the Cortex web server, and get in touch with us to purchase your Wattbike AtomX.