VO2 Max

What is VO2 Max

Your VO2max is your maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise, most typically on a treadmill. The name is derived from V - volume, O2 - oxygen, max - maximum.

Maximal oxygen consumption reflects your aerobic physical fitness and provides a strong indication of your endurance capacity during prolonged exercise.
The factors affecting VO2 can be divided into supply and demand.

Supply is the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the mitochondria (the engine of the cell) Elements in the process of supply include lung diffusion, stroke volume, blood volume, and capillary density of the skeletal muscle.

Demand is the rate at which the mitochondria can reduce oxygen in the process of oxidative phosphorylation (the power of the cell to continue the analogy)

Of these, the supply factor is often considered to be the limiting one. However, it has also been argued that while trained subjects probably are supply limited, untrained subjects can indeed have a demand limitation.

Factors affecting VO2 Max

Age, sex, fitness, changes in altitude, and action of the ventilatory muscles all affect VO2Max.

In biological terms these factors affect your cardiac output, pulmonary diffusion capacity, oxygen carrying capacity, and other peripheral limitations like muscle diffusion capacity, mitochondrial enzymes, and capillary density.

Interpreting the results of your VO2 Max test

Your VO2 is your maximum rate of oxygen consumption. The name is derived from V - volume, O2 - oxygen, max - maximum.

Maximal oxygen consumption reflects your aerobic physical fitness and provides a strong indication of your endurance capacity during prolonged, sub-maximal exercise.

Results are expressed as either litres of oxygen per minute (L/min)

OR

Millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute (mL/(kg•min)

Measuring it this way takes into account your body mass

  • Average Untrained Male: 35–40 mL/(kg•min)
  • Average Untrained Female: 27–31 mL/(kg•min)
  • Elite Male runners: 85 mL/(kg•min)
  • Elite Female runners: 77 mL/(kg•min)
  • Cyclist (Oskar Svendsen): 97.5 mL/(kg•min) highest ever recorded
  • Thoroughbred horses: 180 mL/(kg•min)