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VO2 Testing

What is VO2 Testing?

newlogo-vomaxThe VO2 test is a cardiovascular and respiratory fitness assessment which will identify your VO2 (volume of oxygen consumed) at anaerobic threshold and peak. VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can consume and is a great measure of  one’s fitness level.  This test will provide you with your optimal heart rate zones to train within to achieve your goals.

The customized training zones tell you how long to exercise and what heart rate zones to work within for a specific period of time during each workout.  These training zones increase your total calories burned which equates to weight loss. It also equates to an increase in lean body mass. This method training helps to increase your resting metabolic rate and keep it raised longer than any other “steady state” workout where you spend a majority of your time in the same heart rate zone. This means you will be burning more calories even when you are resting!

Following this program requires a heart rate monitor. You can follow it alone, just you and your heart rate monitor, or your trainer can incorporate it in the program they have created for you. 

(*Factors that may affect VO2 include an individual’s level of cardiac or respiratory fitness, an individual’s muscle mass, and one’s muscle perfusion.)

What is Anaerobic Threshold?

Anaerobic Threshold is the level of exercise beyond which lactic acid begins to accumulate in the muscles.   As a person exercises, the muscle consumes oxygen and produces carbon dioxide and lactic acid.  As long as the heat and lungs provide enough blood flow to the muscle, the muscle can operate aerobically in a relatively pain free state for long periods of time.  As the level of exertion increases, the muscles require more oxygen than the body can provide and metabolism becomes “anaerobic”.

Our VO2 Max Test will measure how much oxygen you consume and how much carbon dioxide you are expelling.  Our detailed test results include total calories burned and type of calories are being burned at each stage of your test.

Why is Anaerobic Threshold important?  The percentage of fats used by the body is higher than the percentage of carbohydrates used by the body when exercise remains aerobic or below the Anaerobic Threshold.  The ideal exertion level at which fat is maximized and fatigue  and muscle soreness is minimized is a level just below the anaerobic threshold.  

The amount of calories expended for a given amount of oxygen consumed is usually about 5 calories (.005 Kcal) for every millimeter of oxygen consumed.  The exact relationship between calories consumed is also affected by the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the body as well as the oxygen consumed.

The Anaerobic threshold represents the transition from predominantly aerobic to predominantly anaerobic metabolism in the working muscles.  When exercise intensity increases, energy (ATP) cannot be supplied to the muscles fast enough.  Increased recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers along with a lack of sufficient oxygen to completely break down carbohydrates begins to rapidly deplete glycogen stores.  In addition, lactic acid is being produced in higher amounts.  Lactic acid from the muscles is converted to blood lactate, a  process that increases CO@ in excess of normal muscle metabolism.  Blood lactate is then shuttled throughout the circulatory system and used by other tissues for fuel.  

The anaerobic threshold is also referred to as the lactate or ventilatory threshold and signifies the point when there is a sudden increase in CO2 production, ventilation, and blood lactate levels.  And endurance athlete wants his/her anaerobic threshold to be at a high percentage of their VO2 max.  The average untrained person has an AT  of 55% of their VO2 max while that of a trained endurance athlete is between 80%-90%.  With a high AT, you can exercise at a higher intensity while delaying the fatigue, soreness and decreased power that occur with increasing levels of acidity in the muscles and lactate in the blood.  

Do You Need High-Tech Tests?

Physiology testing labs, once the domain of top competitors, have sprouted up coast-to-coast in health club chains, coaching performance centers, and bike shops.  “In the past year and a half, test-device sales have increased 60 to 65 percent,” says Brent Jones, director of sales for KORR Medical Technologies.  The new “lab rats,” physiologists say, are amateur endurance athletes looking to fine-tune their training for marathons, triathlons, and other lengthy races.  “But anyone participating in endurance sports like cycling and running can benefit from these tests,” says Edward Coyle Ph.D., director of the Human Performance Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin.  

The Big Idea:  Like popping the hood on your heart and lungs, the VO2 Max test reveals the capabilities of your aerobic engine.  It is both an indication of current fitness and measure of athletic potential that you can improve through training. The test results represent the millimeters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight you use during each minute of exercise. 

The Test:  Test subject ride a stationary bike or jog on a treadmill to exhaustion while breathing through a tube; a machine then calculates the amount of oxygen consumed at peak physical capacity and how much CO2 is produced.  The more oxygen the subject’s body uses while huffing and puffing, the greater his or her VO2 max.

The Training:  If you’re already fairly fit, the simplest way to boost your VO2 max is to lose weight.  But whether you’re blessed with a V-8 or a four-cylinder, physiologists agree that exercising at 70 to 80 percent of your VO2 max for 45 to 60 minutes a few times a week will significantly increase your fitness and could boost your VO2 max by 15 to 30 percent.

Interval Heart Rate Training and Aerobic Base

Base building always has an aerobic emphasis, meaning that you will almost completely be using your oxygen-based energy system to perform a workout.  Recall that the anaerobic threshold is the point at which your body can no longer solely fuel your workout via oxygen inhalation; the body begins a gradual changeover to a very limited form of energy provision that does not use oxygen, but lactate.  Once again, the onset of this transition is known as the anaerobic threshold (AT), and it begins at around 65% of maximal heart rate (MHR) for novice runners and more like 85% MHR for experienced athletes.

The Benefits of True Interval Heart Rate Training include:  burning more calories (including fat calories), increased motivation during workouts, increased endurance and an overall increased metabolism.

What is Over-Training?

Avoiding over-training is a critical goal of any cardiovascular training program.  Over-training reduces the results of the program, leads to overuse injuries, reduced the immune response, and ultimately leads to decreased fitness and performance.  Many of the signs such as apathy, insomnia, decreased appetite, a  lack of progress, residual muscle and joint soreness, and an increase in resting pulse develop over time.

Over-training can also be measured within and between interval workouts if you know the signs.  If you are doing an interval to your peak and your heart rate is not dropping (to recovery heart rate) as fast as it normally does, then you’ve done enough intervals for that day.  For example if your peak heart rate is 160 beats per minute and after your peak interval your heart rate normally drops to 140 bpm in one minute but today it is only 150 bpm after one minute.  Or, if you normally do a workout with a speed of 6.0mph and your peak heart rate is 160, but because of over-training today you hit your peak her rate at 5.0 mph  This is a sign that your recovery system is unable to recuperate and you need a day off or a recovery day in zone.  

Heart rate training is a great way to prevent over-training because this signs appear so much sooner and are objective.  Also, since you are constantly adjusting your worlds based upon your heart rate, you should never be doing more than your body is capable of at that moment.

Adaptations to Aerobic & Anaerobic Training

The following are some of the physiological adaptations that occur from aerobic training:

The following are some of the adaptations that occur from anaerobic training:

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