What is VO2max?

Have you ever wondered how you stand up to other cyclists? Measure VO2 max.

Also referred to as maximal oxygen uptake, VO2 max is widely considered the most accurate measurement Cardiovascular health. Measuring VO2max can give you an inside look at your current fitness levels, helping you gauge your effectiveness training program and make adjustments if necessary.

What exactly is VO2max?

VO2 max is the measurement of the maximum (maximum) volume (V) of oxygen (O2) your body can take in and use during Exercise. It is measured in milliliters of oxygen consumed per minute per kilogram of body weight (ml/kg/min). You need oxygen to exercise, and the more efficiently you consume and use it (the higher your VO2 max), the easier exercise you will feel at a certain intensity.

Oxygen is used to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency that supports every movement you make. The more oxygen you can muster to produce ATP, the More energy You will have on hand for cycling.

Says Todd Buckingham, Ph.D., senior exercise physiologist at life killer. “The bigger your drive, the more you can be good endurance Athlete.”

Keep in mind, however, that just because you have a VO2 max doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically fastest rider. There are other factors involved in performance, such as fuel properlytraining different energy systems, and how intense the exercise is before lactate (a byproduct of exercise) builds up in the blood (also known as milking start), says Garret Seacat, cycling coach and owner absolute endurance.

However, “having a higher VO2max will increase the likelihood of performing better in a raceDr. Buckingham says.

As an added bonus, Research indicates that higher levels of VO2 correlate with greater levels longevitySo it’s not just your performance that improves with the highest VO2 max.

How do you measure VO2 max?

To get the most accurate measurement of your VO2 max, swing at a fitness center that offers a VO2 max test.

VO2 max is the gold standard of measurement Endurancenotes Johns Hopkins Medicine. The test usually takes only 12 to 15 minutes and includes WalkingAnd the Managementor cycling while breathing In a mouthpiece that collects exhaled air and sends it to a machine (also known as a “metabolic cart”) through connected tubes.

You will start pedaling at a low level strong output A skilled technician will gradually increase the power until it burns out. But rest assured that only the last few minutes of testing were really tough, says Buckingham.

The machine is working hard too. As you exercise, it analyzes and records the amount of oxygen you use. With this information, the technician will be able to calculate your VO2 max.

While the VO2max test can be done on a treadmill or bicycleYou will get the most accurate measurement on the bike. “Assigning a cyclist to do a run-based test may underestimate their VO2 max, since they react muscles They may not be accustomed to using it,” says Avi Silverberg, MS, CSCS, a strength and conditioning coach who works with Indoor and outdoor cyclists. Many labs allow cyclists to bring their bike and mount it on indoor bike trainer.

For cyclists who don’t have access to a lab, there are easier ways to estimate VO2max. However, none of it will be as accurate as a lab test. Therefore, take any estimates from the alternative methods with a pinch of salt.

The easiest way to estimate VO2 max is to let you stretch Watch or fitness tracker Do it for you. Some models are used heart rate data and exercise data (such as speed) to calculate your VO2 max. However, research published in Diagnostics and treatment of cardiovascular diseases In 2019 it appears that wrist devices are becoming less accurate Heart rate measurement When runners improve their speed. The presence of dark skin eliminates accuracy. Less accurate heart rate measurements may mean less accurate estimates of VO2 max.

There is no perfect upper limit for VO2. However, you can compare your number with the averages to get an idea of ​​your performance. Active men ages 18 to 45 typically score 45.5 to 46.4 mL/kg/min, while very active men often score at 85 mL/kg/min or more, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Active women in the same age range usually fall between 33 and 36.9 mL/kg/min, with highly active women reaching 77 mL/kg/min or more.

Why should cyclists know their VO2 max?

Measuring your VO2max can give you an idea of ​​how to do this Compare with other cyclists. You can compare your numbers to cyclists who share characteristics such as age, gender and experience level. But you can also use the measurement as a way to see your progress over time. Keeping tabs on your VO2 max can help you gauge how much your fitness is improving (or not) exercise. Again, the higher your VO2 max, the easier it will be to perform exercises at a certain intensity, so you’ll be able to crush tough workouts without feeling like you’re working too hard—one of the essential training pros to improve on that metric.

According to Buckingham, many professional athletes Track progress by testing their VO2 max at the start of each training block—This is six or more times per season. For non-specialists, two exams per year are sufficient. “Start with one early in the season and reassess midway to make sure your training is having the desired effect,” Buckingham says.

If your VO2 max doesn’t improve the way you hoped it might be time to adjust your program (and perhaps time to hire Fitness Trainer).

How can you improve your VO2 max?

University of California at Davis Health He notes that there are many factors that can affect VO2max, including age, body composition, gender, genetics, and – of course – training. While you can’t control your genes or your age, you can be manipulated workouts To raise your VO2max.

Cycling at a low intensity (between 50 to 70 percent of Maximum heart rate) Necessary. Training at a low intensity helps increase the number of mitochondria and capillaries in our muscles,” Buckingham says.

Mitochondria are the cellular structures where oxygen is converted into energy work musclesWhile capillaries are tiny blood vessels that replace waste products such as carbon dioxide with nutrients such as oxygen. More mitochondria means more sites where oxygen can be turned into energy. Likewise, having more capillaries means getting more oxygen to the mitochondria and more carbon dioxide from the muscles.

However, some studies suggest it high intensity training (80 to 100 percent of your maximum heart rate) Save The best way To improve your VO2 max. some Sciences It also suggests that you can train at a higher intensity with lower training doses to achieve improvements in VO2 max, making it an effective way to improve fitness.

The exercises that are performed in a higher density Increased size and function of mitochondria. “This is why it’s important to diversify your training and not just train at the same intensity for each exercise,” Buckingham says. It is recommended to make the bulk (about 80 percent) of cycling workouts at a lower density and a fraction (about 20 percent) at a higher density.

Try this high-intensity cycling workout to improve VO2 max, from Seacat. After warming up for 10 minutes at a low intensity:

  • A 2-minute cycle with an all-out effort you can handle all the time a period
  • Pedal for 2 minutes easily recovery speed
  • Repeat until you complete four rounds in total
  • Take back 5 to 10 minutes
  • Complete four more rounds of two minutes each

      Seacat recommends doing this exercise on the road consistently uphill or in a headwind. However, this can also be done Inside if it is necessary. Aim for the pedal Rhythm Between 75 and 90 rpm.

      Keep in mind that improvements in VO2 max won’t happen overnight – it takes time to change this number. So stick with your exercises and keep them consistent, and that’s when you’ll see results.

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