What Exactly is V02 Max?

Many of you may have heard the term “V02 max” thrown around when talking about your cardiorespiratory endurance and aerobic fitness, but I’m sure many of you are all wondering the same thing…What exactly is V02 Max and should I get mine tested?

WHAT IS VO2 MAX?
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 is one factor that can determine a person’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. It is generally considered the best fitness assessment tool available to accurately identify the appropriate training intensities specific to your fitness needs/goals.

HOW IS IT TESTED?
Determining your V02 Max involves a graded exercise test on a treadmill. The test begins at a light intensity and gets slightly harder each minute until you reach near maximum exertion. The subject wears a mask and the volume of air expired along with the percentages of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the expired air are measured. From this, we can determine the following:
■ Peak oxygen consumption
■ Calories burned during exercise at different heart rates
■ Aerobic and Anaerobic Thresholds
■ Target intensity zones

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?
VO2 testing is the best way to measure your cardio fitness and maximize your workout. Each person has a unique optimal training zone. Exercising at different levels of intensity will meet different fitness goals. Some intensities burn more fat, some increase endurance, and some focus on strengthening your heart. As you may know, the calories burned calculated on cardio machines are not known for their accuracy. Some machines are even known to bump up the calorie readout by almost 25%! Furthermore, machines do not always take into consideration all the factors in individual fitness levels and the specificity of the exercise, so relying on these machines to give you an accurate calorie and heart rate count can hold you back from attaining your goals if your not careful. Also, many of the charts you see on exercise equipment displays target heart rate based only on age. V02 max testing measures your precise target heart rate, then calculates your personal target intensity zones and how many calories you burn in each zone. These zones give you the precise heart rates necessary to optimize each level of exercise and maximize your results, so you workout smarter, not harder.

By knowing your V02 Max you will in turn be able to:
■ Burn more fat
■ Maximize your workouts
■ Eliminate training plateaus
■ Decrease fatigue and injury potential

WHO SHOULD TEST THEIR V02 MAX?
Anyone who is looking to lose weight, maximize the potential towards their workouts, improve performance or most importantly, help make fitness goals attainable. Although many individuals would benefit from knowing their V02 max, it is especially valuable for those involved in sports where endurance is an important component in performance, such as:

■ Cycling
■ Rowing
■ Cross-country skiing
■ Swimming
■ Running

With spring approaching quickly and marathon/swimming/cycling season underway, now is the perfect time to maximize your potential and workout smarter, not harder!

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