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Non-traditional performance-enhancing athletic tests

February 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Many athletes put themselves on intense fitness and nutrition programs to stay on top of their game. But the science of sport has gotten extremely sophisticated with all kinds of unusual testing. Here's what some athletes are doing to get primed for performance.

Getting your blood drawn in the middle of a run, having every stride scrutinized, being hypnotized? It's what some athletes are doing to improve their performance.

Heather Hidock is having her lactic acid threshold tested. By figuring out what her threshold is, she can increase it and in turn build endurance.

Exercise physiologist Sharlyne Rivera with the National Training Center says it helps runners pinpoint what pace or training zone is best for them.

"People are disillusioned into thinking that you always have to go hard and go fast," said Rivera.

At a runner's clinic, Dave Calvert is going through a battery of bio-mechanical tests. A team of doctors analyzes his form, stride, balance and diet.

Doctor Darrin Bright says problems in any of these areas could lead to injuries.

"Unfortunately, anywhere from a third to half of all runners will get injured each year," said Bright.

A computer synchronized with three cameras give sports trainers a comprehensive picture of what Calvert is doing right and wrong.

Nutritionists help him maximize his carbohydrate intake with this formula: divide your body weight by 2.2, and multiply that number by 5. That will give you how many grams of carbohydrates to aim for each day

Vincent Hancock, a 2008 Olympic Gold Medal-winning shooter, knows all about the mental game.

"That's the piece that makes or breaks you," said Hancock.

Instead of hitting this gym, he and other athletes come to the Mind Gym. Licensed hypnotist Dan Vitchoff says certain tones in specific music help him rewire connections in athletes' brain, so calm, focused responses are automatic under pressure.

"You're getting them into that state where they've done it thousands and thousands of times," said Vitchoff.

The power of suggestion and the power of high-tech testing gives these athletes the edge.