What is VO2 Max Testing?
VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake, is one of the best tests in determining an athlete's capacity to perform sustained exercise. VO2 stands for Volume Of Oxygen and this test is linked to aerobic endurance. But VO2 is not just for athletes! Its for any one of us that takes exercise and fitness serious enough to recognize that getting into good aerobic shape and staying there is THE KEY to having a healthy heart and respiratory system!! Lifting weights may make you look more muscular but maximizing your heart and lungs is what will keep you strong and healthy through the mid and later decades of your life.
VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. It is actually measuring the milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight.
This measurement is generally considered the best indicator of an athlete's cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. Theoretically, the more oxygen you can use during high-level exercise, the more energy you can produce. This is often the case with elite endurance athletes who typically have very high VO2 max values. But its true for all of us weekend warriors as well.
With proper training, even "every day" athletes are often able to substantially increase their aerobic threshold and exercise longer at a higher intensity.
Measuring VO2 max accurately requires an all-out effort (usually on a treadmill or bicycle) performed under a strict protocol. But don't worry, it's only about a 10 or 12 minute workout. In our sports performance lab at Optimal Health Miami we use a stationary bike and a cardiac monitor as well as the VO2 equipment. The test involves specific increases in the speed and intensity of the exercise. While your exercising we are collecting and measuring the volume and oxygen concentration you are inhaling and exhaling. This equipment is designed to measure how much oxygen you are using while you exercise as well as the amount of carbon dioxide you are exhaling.
A person's - oxygen consumption rises in a linear relationship with exercise intensity -- up to a point. There is a specific point at which oxygen consumption plateaus even if the exercise intensity increases. This plateau marks the V02 max. During the VO2 max testing we can determine when you move from aerobic metabolism to anaerobic metabolism. From that point on it's not long before muscle fatigue forces you to stop exercising.
You might be thinking "What will I get from this exercise test?" After the test is finished we will have a detailed report that is directly related to your unique fitness profile. We will look at your score, how effectively your body consumes and uses oxygen, your breathing patterns, recovery of heart and lungs, calorie expenditure at various heart rates, and your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds. We will be able to identify the exact heartbeat and wattage where your body turns anaerobic and I will provide you with heart rate zones for you to train and compete at in order to allow you to maximize every minute of your workouts. These results are critical in helping establish your goals for Hi Intensity Interval Training.
So whether you are just starting to work out, or whether working out is part of your lifestyle, or maybe you are really trying to push the edge a little bit - the VO2 has a place in your health and wellness evaluation.