As an athlete it is important to pay close attention to your body to maintain optimal health to help you achieve your performance goals. Your body's system can be monitored by blood testing to help you achieve optimal results whether you're training for a race, a fight, or personal satisfaction.
Important Concepts For An Athlete Baseline Values:
Establishing a baseline set of values for a variety of blood tests can be invaluable when recovering from an injury or training for peak performance.
A normal range is determined by the laboratory based on results of the general population. Each result includes a reference range based on your age and sex that establishes what is "normal." Results that fall slightly outside this range may not indicate a problem.
Normal for Athletes
: Athletes' results can be very different from the general population so it is important as an athlete to establishing personal metrics for optimal health. For example, a blood test for the hormone testosterone may have a normal range of 300 -1,000 ng/dL for a male but many experts believe that the optimal level is at the top of the range. When training for peak performance there are many values that can be viewed against optimal target values.
There is an excellent overview of blood testing for athletes in Going Long by Joe Friel and Gordon Byrn, a comprehensive guide to racing triathlons, describing the important concepts of using lab tests for a competitive advantage.
Should I Be In The Normal Range?
The Australian Institute of Sport
recently published the following optimal standards for male endurance athletes:
- Hemoglobin (16.1 +/- 1.4 g/dl)
- Hematocrit (0.47+/-0.04)
- Iron (18.1+/- 7.1 µmol/L)
- Ferritin (66.2+/-31.2 ng/ml))
these measurements, most included in a Complete Blood Count
/ Basic Health Screening
, reflect values may differ from normal ranges so please consult a physician when considering personal metrics.)
Certain blood tests can be used to measure injury recovery, regeneration from training, and as reliable indicators of preparedness including a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel
(Glucose, Creatinine, and Electrolytes among other measurements), Iron
, Amino Acids, Phosphorous, and Ferritin
(all of which are included in the Health Testing Centers Athlete's Performance Panel
Hormone testing can also provide valuable information for an athlete in training. Cortisol
(known as the stress hormone) is released by the adrenal gland during exercise providing your body additional energy. Over training can lead to prolonged high cortisol levels and negative health effects. Testosterone
is also an important factor for a male athlete. A low level of testosterone could even be the reason that you are not progressing as rapidly as you expected with your training.