VO2 max is the maximal oxygen uptake or the maximum volume of oxygen that can be utilized in one minute during maximal or exhaustive exercise. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight.
VO2 max or maximal oxygen uptake is one factor that can determine an athlete’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. It is generally considered the best indicator of cardio-respiratory endurance and aerobic fitness.
Elite endurance athletes typically have a high VO2 max. And some studies indicate that it is largely due to genetics, although training has been shown to increase VO2 max in untrained athletes up to 15-20 percent, but well-trained athletes are unlikely to realize an increase in VO2max of greater than 3-5 percent. A major goal of most endurance training programs is to increase this number.
Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be used by the body for maximal sustained power output (exercise). Since the body uses oxygen to convert food into energy (ATP), the more oxygen you can consume, the more energy, power, or speed you can produce. VO2max defines an endurance athlete’s performance ceiling, or the size of his or her “engine.” Research has shown that VO2max significantly determines performance in endurance-based events such as cycling, triathlon, running, and Nordic skiing.
Track Elite National Points Champion Daniel Holt getting his VO2 Max Test:
How is VO2 Max measured?
Many endurance athletes already have some idea of what a VO2max test entails: an incremental increase in exercise effort until the participant is unable to continue increasing his or her workload. The athlete can perform the test using any number of exercises: running, cycling, rowing, and even swimming.
Read what I thought of this experience Here
Because VO2max will vary between sports for various individuals, athletes will generally perform the test in his or her preferred sport. Regardless of the testing modality used, all the tests do the same thing. They take a happy-go-lucky individual and turn him or her into a grimacing, suffering, and most importantly, gasping test subject. As exercise intensity increases, a machine calculates oxygen consumption (VO2) by collecting and analyzing the test subject’s inspired and expired air. With each incremental increase in power output by the athlete, more muscle mass is employed and more oxygen consumed. VO2 will thus increase linearly with exercise intensity until the body reaches its maximum ability to consume oxygen. At this point, oxygen consumption will level off, or plateau, when the subject reaches his or her VO2max.
The VO2 max test will nearly pinpoint your lactic threshold, which is the heart rate you will be able to sustain during a timetrial.
A test will also show you exactly where your Heart Rate Zones efforts are for training – this takes the guess work out of estimating your zones!
A great thing about a VO2 Max test is that it gives you a gauge of specifically where your body is at and where your efforts will give you the best results. For instance, some people go anaerobic quickly and thus, need to do more base (Long Slow Distance) miles.
Or maybe you have a good base and need more hill repeats, or maybe you need more high intensity intervals.
Some people have good lung capacity, but not enough leg strength while others have great leg strength, but not enough lung capacity to supply the necessary oxygen to those legs and need to do Time-trial efforts.
The VO2 max results will give you a graph of evidence where you are doing well and where you could improve with the proper intervals.
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