Tuesday, May 12, 2009

VO2 Max Testing

Last week I got to witness a VO2 max testing at one of the numerous Health in Motion PT clinics. It was pretty cool. Danielle Musto's ( pro mountain bike racer extraordinaire) little sister, Tony was the victim! Tony is a pretty outstanding endurance athlete in her own right. She just completed her first year at Grand Valley State University, where she achieved All-American on the swim team. She also is a sponsored rider for Team Priority Health and will be competing all over the country this summer.

If you never have witnessed one of these tests, they're pretty grueling. Your basically tested on a few things on the way to pushing yourself to the limits of your physical capacity. For many of us, that's to the point where you feel like your going to pass out. Not the most fun thing to do on a Wednesday afternoon, but pretty fun to watch someone else go through it!

Tony wasn't allowed to eat anything since the night before, as one of the things tested is how well her body burns fat and glucose. So now your not only pushed to the limit, but your body is someone depleted to begin with.

One of the cool things that gets tested along the way is your anaerobic threshold. This is essentially the heart rate your at when your body starts using carbs instead of fat for a fuel source. This point is kinda like the efficiency of your engine. This is a great place to stay when your putting in miles to build up that aerobic base. Stay below aerobic threshold and you can probably go for hours on end. It's usually a lot slower then what your used to going.

Another point that gets tested is your Anaerobic threshold, this point is where your body quits using oxygen to burn glucose. So this is the point where your body can't get rid of the lactate and it starts to build until you can't accomplish work any more.That's why this point is also called the Lactate Threshold. Essentially this is the point where your legs start to give out and the vision starts to narrow. Stay here and you won't be racing very long! This point is how much of your engine your using.

Finally the last point that gets tested is the VO2 Max. This point is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use. It's measured in milliliters used in one minute per kilogram of bodyweight. This is essentially how big your engine is.

So VO2 max is how big an engine you have, anaerobic threshold is how much of the engine you can use, and aerobic threshold is how efficient your engine burns. There are a lot of different methods that can be used to improve all three.

What I found most interesting is that there is a zone in between aerobic and anaerobic threshold. Where if you stay there, neither gets improved, but for most people this is exactly where they train. Aerobic training seems to easy, and anaerobic seems to hard. So it's definitely worth knowing where your at, so when you go out for a run or a ride, your improving with your efforts, just not going through the motions.

I won't say what Tony's VO2 score was, but it was impressive. Good luck this year!


Anonymous said...

How does one get a Vo2 max test done in Michigan? Are there studies at any of the universities that will take on an x-cat 3 rider that just turned 40 looking to jump back into cycling after 15 year away from the sport?

Jason Ross said...

If your in the Grand Rapids area, I would recommend the Health and Motion PT clinic that we used. Very thorough, and the guy that runs it is a competitive triathlete himself.

Alls it takes for that is a phone call to set up an appointment. If your looking for a University to to it, I'm not sure of the protocols, but I'm guessing you would need to get a hold of the exercise phys dept.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jason, It might be worth the road trip.

Happy New Year

Dennis B Murphy said...

I did a VO2Max test at Health Motions a few years ago and (sadly) found my AT and VO2Max were within a very few points of each other. In other words, at that time if I needed to "surge" and go into the AT zone I was already at the top of my motor. This can be improved to some degree I was told but not significantly as it is largely genetic. But I should do another test since it has been so many years. I still have the output from the original test