VO2 max test: 75 ml/kg/min

VO2 max test: 75 ml/kg/min

Today, in my Exercise Physiology lab class, we were treated to a demonstration of VO2 max testing.  Since everyone in my class knows I do triathlons, they all pointed their fingers when the lab teaching assistant asked for a volunteer.  I ended up being the guinea pig, even though this is a test I’ve been wanting to do for some time.

We used a treadmill and a Parvo Metabolic Cart.  This involves an oxygen mask connected by hoses to the test gear.  It sucked breathing through the mask.  Not only did it look crazy and feel like a Darth Vader helmet, I had my nose plugged so I could only breath through my mouth.  The typical setup is to start running, gradually increase the speed and the slope until failure, between 14 and 18 minutes into the test.  In this instance, we created a protocol based on my fitness level.  Everyone laughed when I suggested starting the test at 7.5 mph, thinking that was way too fast.  I lasted 15 minutes,  reaching 10.5 mph and a 4% incline before bailing out.

My protocol was in the table below:

Time (min) Speed Gradient
0-3 7.5 mph 0
3-6 8.5 mph 0
6-9 9.5 mph 0
9-12 10.5 mph 0
12-14 10.5 mph +2%
14-16 10.5 mph +4%
16-18 10.5 mph +6%

My heart rate hit 207 by the end of the test.  Normally, my heart rate when exercising can get pretty high; I’ve seen it get above 200 in training before.  Theoretically, one indication to terminate the test is when you hit your max heart rate i.e. 220-age(yrs), or 198 for me.

The unit of measure is milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min).  It has been reported that American Tour de France winner Greg LeMond recorded 92 once, and Lance Armstrong an 84.  Norwegian Olympic cross country skiing Olympic gold medalists have scored in the 90’s; their sport generates the highest values of any.

My score of 75 is quite respectable domestically, competitive among pro cyclists, but below what Tour de France riders show.  VO2 max is a valuable measure of aerobic capacity but not a sure fire predictor of athletic success. Among runners, especially, technique trumps VO2 max.  Of course, those who have both do exceedingly well (e.g. Kip Keino with an 82).

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My data print out.

At the very least, today’s result confirmed for me that I have solid genetics and great fitness to embark on this pro rookie year.

I would like to do this again, but on a bike on a trainer, so I can record my watts output at the same time, and take a blood sample of lactic acid at VO2 max.  Next time!

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