What is it? And why should you know yours?
VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilize during max effort exercise. It is measured as “milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight.” Since there is a direct relationship between oxygen consumption (VO2) and Calories burned, the test can also determine how many calories your body is burning at each intensity level. Now this may remind you of high school science where you read it and want to regurgitate it on a test and forget about it because it sounds crazy. For those of you who are like that, don’t worry. When I test you, you’ll receive the answer key in a visually appealing printout customized to your body. For those of you who are more on the nerdy side (like me), I’ve got you covered too.
Vo2 max testing can benefit a couch potato looking to make a change, as well as elite athletes. There’s an array of fitness goals to attain and VO2 max testing will get you there. First I’ll address the majority of us who are looking to burn fat:
You’ve probably heard the term “fat burning zone” before. What does that mean and how do you figure out yours? You’ve also probably seen the generic graphs on fitness equipment where you match up your age and height, or use a generic online calculator. Those are great for an estimate, but your VO2 max is like a finger print, it’s unique to you and it will change as your fitness level changes.
While exercising, most people burn the most fat at 50% of their VO2 Max. This means that 75-80% of the fuel being burned is fat. The remaining energy comes from glucose. If weight loss is your immediate goal, it’s recommended to exercise 1 day/week for every 10 years of age, for 30-60 minutes in your fat burning zone.
30 years old = 3 days a week
40 years old = 4 days a week
50 years old = 5 days a week
80 years old = 8 days a week ( I know there’s a smart Aleck out there)
** 1865, of unknown origin, perhaps in reference to Aleck Hoag, notorious pimp, thief, and confidence man in New York City in early 1840s [Barnhart]. *** As a random side note that where smart Aleck is derived from****
The way you stay in your fat burning zone is through monitoring your heart rate. For me, I need to stay at 130 beats per minute. At this heart rate I’m burning 63% fat and and 463 calories an hour. I recommend trying the Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Activity Wristband or the Polar A300to monitor your activity.
We are always burning a combination of both energy sources. However to loose fat most effectively you also need to know your RMR ( I’ll explain this more in my next post). But knowing your RMR will tell you how many calories you burn at rest so you can dial in your caloric intake quite significantly.
Increasing your Endurance:
The higher your VO2 the better your endurance is, meaning you can go harder longer. If you’re looking to increase you cardio vascular endurance you can do it one of two ways. You can either train at 55-65% of your VO2 max for extended periods of time or engage in interval training where your hitting your VO2 max at high intensities for short intervals.
How is the test performed?:
The VO2 Max test can either be performed on a treadmill or on your bike. While wearing a mask, the client starts out at rest and then progressively increases intensity until max values are measured.