VO2 Max Testing
What is VO2 max?
VO2 max, or maximal oxygen consumption, refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. This measurement is generally considered the best indicator of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. The more oxygen a person can use during high level exercise, the more energy a person can produce. This test is the gold standard for determining cardio-respiratory fitness because the muscles need oxygen for prolonged aerobic exercise, and the heart must pump adequate amounts of blood through the circulation to meet the demands of aerobic exercise.
Measuring VO2 max
By putting a face mask on the subject, we can directly measure the volume and gas concentrations of inspired and expired air. This measure is often used in research and is considered the most accurate. The test involves either exercising on a treadmill or a bike at an intensity that increases every few minutes until exhaustion, and is designed to achieve a maximal effort. We also obtain the individual’s maximal heart rate from this test, which, along with resting heart rate, can be used to develop a more precise target heart rate range. This is more accurate than age-predicted equations. Thus, the subject leaves the lab with an excellent idea of his/her current fitness level and also how to use this information to improve fitness.