De-Saturation Intervals: Moxy vs. NNOXX vs. Train.Red
In some recent testing with NNOXX, Evan advised me that I needed to train to overcome my performance limiter which was deemed to be a “limitation to improving VO2max“. As well as increased endurance mileage, NNOXX recommended de-saturation intervals. Essentially intervals that deplete the muscle of oxygen in a protocol specific to the demands of your sport. For me, that’s achieved by a series of progressive efforts (ramps) that culminate somewhere over my threshold before repeating after a complete rest – for a soccer player it might be 30-second intervals.
The image at the top of the post shows what I did indoors on a Wahoo KICKR. Even though I was ‘prescribed’ these kinds of workouts for running, I tried them a few times and either had data capture problems or difficulties in controlling the increases in my efforts – in a nutshell, a controlled interval is WAY easier to perform in a controlled indoor bike environment than when running in my local park in the rain with a dog! I guess we all know that!!
This workout was physically hard (fairly hard) and I’d previously tried to do other tech comparisons with maximal tests and it’s just not possible for me to keep churning out those kinds of efforts day after day. As it happens I did a desaturation interval the previous day for running but was recovered enough to do this one on the bike.
NNOXX vs Moxy vs Train.Red
A comparison of SmO2 data between tools is incredibly difficult to do but on their own, each one is straightforward to use and interpret. It’s really time-consuming and there are quite a few bits of tech involved in the data capture. Getting every part of the ‘process’ to work has proved extremely challenging on every occasion. Perhaps I’ve encountered the most challenging series of issues I’ve ever had to overcome in all my time doing this site (10 years?). One small mistake (which happened a few times), one bug in some beta software (which happened), one of many batteries too low on charge (happened), or even the sensor moving (happened) or interfering with another one (happened) and the whole test-kaboodle is toast. I’ve devoted a few weeks of my time with little to show in terms of comparisons for you guys and girls.
Anyway, enough of my problems, here’s the kit I used
- NNOXX – I had to use the iPhone app as the data isn’t recorded anywhere else yet
- Train.Red – I used the CIQ data field on my Edge 540 (it didn’t work), on my Forerunner 965 (it did work), and on the app which looks pretty nice (two apps running simultaneously…yikes!)
- Moxy – I recorded this on a Wahoo Bolt 2 using the standard ANT+ profile
- other – Apple Watch (displaying Glucose from Supersapiens), Polar Verity Sense, Stages gen3 PM, Wahoo Kickr 2020, Garmin HRM-PRO-PLUS
Then there are more problems with interpreting the data.
These SmO2 sensors don’t claim to be quite measuring the same thing. Train.Red measures relative changes and NNOXX claims to measure deeper, and Moxy has lower-resolution data. I can’t even use DCR’s tool to show you these as I can’t (easily?) get the data into a developer field in a FIT file for DCRAnalyzer to even read the data.
To compound all of this…very few of you are interested in Muscle Oxygen and won’t have got this far 🙁 Hey oxygen and fuel/glucose are quite important tho, right?
Here Are Some of the Views of today’s app data
The unique thing with NNOXX is that it shows NO data No other wearable does that.
You can see here that I have warmed up pretty well (1192). The subsequent efforts start at 1792 and the SmO2 performs pretty similarly for each interval falling to the same level at a similar rate.
the NO is a little harder to interpret. You see three aspects to NO in the intervals. Firstly it increases in line with progressive increases in power. Then it quickly drops once the work stops only then to bounce back to the highest levels in recovery before declining sharply as the next work period starts. an interesting takeout is the consistency of the peaks/troughs.
More technically: An increase in power results in an increased oxygen extraction fraction and decreased muscle oxygenation (SmO2). This means oxygen demand in the working muscles is greater than oxygen supply. Furthermore, NO increases, resulting in greater blood flow and oxygen delivery to tissues. The combination of these measurements means that I utilized an increasing fraction of an increased oxygen supply, which is why my mVO2 also goes up. These trends are more exaggerated in the first few sets.
Note: Recorded power levels were effectively identical for the 6 sets. however on the last two sets I used the big ring on the bike and this felt easier either because of a measuring error (higher resistance applied to a greater virtual speed) or because my cadence lowered slightly to a level I more usually train at. A more biomechanically efficient pedalling technique could explain lower NO for a given power output.
I felt that this workout was comfortably hard, or maybe a tad harder than that. I felt I had at least two more sets left in me.
The data backs up my feeling. I always was able to deoxygenate to the same point as the previous set.
Heart rate tells a similar story. It rose similarly in each interval to a progressively higher peak. But it didn’t tell me how many more progressively higher peaks I might be able to achieve as I will still be some way off my HRmax.
The Moxy data on the Wahoo tells a similar tale. Intervals 4 & 5 do show a slightly surpresed level of SmO2 recovery and the final effort does show the lowest point of SmO2.
I’m unable to overlay the curves but they would be different.
Here is the TrainRed chart. Again a similar pattern although this data suggests that my recovery SmO2 levels are progressively declining.
(I can’t show the app data as I have an NDA and am using the beta)
It’s cool data. It’s also hard to compare!
These two new products (TR and NNOXX) use high-grade sensors and Moxy now has some serious competition. However, I’m pretty sure that data-driven runners and cyclists will want this data on a Garmin and in a Garmin FIT file rather than on a proprietary app when it comes to routine usage. Perhaps a smart app and rich ecosystem make sense if we want to dig deeper into more unusual data like this. Moxy follows the existing data standards and its data is easier to use after the workout.
I’ve seen some even cooler things that I’ve not written about yet. An example is Train.Red has such high-resolution data that you can EASILY see individual muscle contractions in detail. I’m not necessarily quite sure why I’d need to see that but I can and I have! But as an X-Fitter/Hyrox/lifter type person, maybe you would.
- NNOXX – much cheaper, simpler app, measures deeper, also has NO and acceleration data
- MOXY – lab standard and follows the standards. Lower resolution data
- TRAIN.RED – high-frequency data, measures deeper, nice app, expensive and trying to move into the Garmin environment and labs.
- More: nnoxx.com from $399
- More: Moxy from $879
- More: Train.Red from Eu600 (10% discount with code the5krunner)
This content is not sponsored. It’s mostly me behind the labour of love which is this site and I appreciate everyone who follows, subscribes or Buys Me A Coffee ❤️ Alternatively please buy the reviewed product from my partners. Thank you! FTC: Affiliate Disclosure: Links pay commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.