What is VO2 Max, and how is it measured 🤔
the maximum amount of oxygen the body can use during a specified period of usually intense exercise that depends on body weight and the strength of the lungs—called also maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, max VO2
As we age, we not only lose muscle mass but aerobic capacity as well. In fact, it decreases about 1 percent per year after age 25, mostly due to declines in your maximum heart rate and lung function. However, if you regularly engage in endurance exercise, you can improve your VO2 max, no matter what your age.
Joe Friel has researched current scientific literature regarding why performance declines as we get older. His findings may surprise you.
But many scientists have come to conclusion that the major contributor to the decline is not really age, but rather lifestyle, especially a reduction in strenuous activity. They believe the physiology-lifestyle balance is around 30-70. In other words, 70% of our lowered performance may be explained by changes in lifestyle (training) with the changes due to aging accounting for only 30%.
So, if VO2 Max is key to performance, how is it measured? How does the athlete know if his training is resulting in an improvement, or decline in VO2 Max?
The most accurate method of measuring VO2 Max is done in a controlled lab environment, and this can be expensive.
Accurately measuring VO2 max involves a physical effort sufficient in duration and intensity to fully tax the aerobic energy system. In general clinical and athletic testing, this usually involves a graded exercise test (either on a treadmill or on a cycle ergometer) in which exercise intensity is progressively increased while measuring:
- ventilation and
- oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air.
VO2 max is reached when oxygen consumption remains at a steady state despite an increase in workload.
Fortunately, a group of researchers in Denmark devised an alternative method based on maximum and resting heart rates, and it does not require special testing equipment. You can do it yourself. It’s referred to as the Uth–Sørensen–Overgaard–Pedersen method. All you need is your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) and Resting Heart Rate (RHR), and plug them into the following formula:
NOTE: The researchers cautioned that the conversion rule was based on measurements on well-trained men aged 21 to 51 only, and may not be reliable when applied to other sub-groups.
Well, I’m well trained, but outside the age group, so this may not be reliable for me. However, I do know my MHR (186 ppm) and RHR (38 ppm). I test and track them regularly. If I plug them into this formula, I get a result of 74.89.
I have the aerobic capacity of a 20 year old. Hmmm … 🤔
The following tables show how I might fare as a professional. Not so well. Chris Froome for example, have a VO2 Max of 81.5.
I’m not certain about the accuracy of this calculation. I’m fit for my age, “above average” perhaps, but 20 year olds regularly beat me up the hills, and on the flats too.
How do you match up 🤔