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Why Is It Important to Get Your VO2 Max Measured by an Expert?

To accurately measure the results of working out regularly, you first have to know where your fitness level was when you started. VO2 max refers to the highest rate of oxygen consumption one can attain while engaged in exhaustive or maximal exercise. Oxygen consumption means the amount of oxygen your cardiovascular system can deliver to the muscles you’re working out during exercise. As you increase your exercise intensity, you also increase your oxygen consumption. However, you eventually reach a point where you can continue increasing exercise intensity without oxygen consumption also continuing to increase. The point at which this happens is your VO2 max or your maximum aerobic capacity.

VO2 max is considered the best indicator or aerobic and cardiorespiratory endurance fitness. Also called aerobic capacity, VO2 max is typically expressed relative to body weight. That’s because energy and oxygen needs differ depending on a person’s size. Measuring your VO2 max can help you determine your fitness level, customize your workouts based on your results, and see your results clearly and concretely when you retest.

Determining VO2 Max

There are several physical evaluations that can determine your Vo2 max. Some of these are direct, and some are indirect. Direct testing utilizes specialized equipment to measure the volume and gas concentrations of inhaled and exhaled air. There are many protocols used on cycle ergometers, treadmills, and other types of workout equipment to directly measure VO2 max. One type, for example, can identify signs of heart disease in high-risk individuals.

Indirect testing is used more widely because it doesn’t require expensive equipment. There are various indirect tests that can estimate VO2 max – and some are more accurate than others – but none are as reliable as direct testing.

Developing Training Zones

Because VO2 measuring involves the correlation of oxygen uptake with heart rate, it can show where your maximum heart rate during exercise lies. When you know your true heart rate, you (or your trainer) can create better training customization through establishing heart rate zones. In this way, you can identify different zones to target depending on whether you want to have a recovery day where you don’t overwork, work at a base training zone to lay a solid foundation, or push much harder as in interval training where you’re working beyond your threshold to improve your anaerobic metabolism.

Being properly monitored during this kind of training is essential to be sure you're staying safe, and your workouts remain effective. A heart rate monitor worn during training can give you the accurate information you need to make sure you're working out in that day's prescribed training zone. Tracking your resting heart rate can also help you determine whether you are under- or overtraining and make modifications to your workout accordingly. A professional trainer knows how to track and interpret these numbers, ensuring you are working hard enough to continue to see progress but not so hard that you might become injured or overly fatigued. VO2 measuring and continual monitoring mean a truly customized workout for you as an individual.

Testing Protocol

VO2 testing involves running, cycling, rowing, or performing another exercise while wearing a two-way mask attached to a metabolic cart and a heart rate monitor. The intensity is gradually increased while the cart measures three variables: the percentage of carbon dioxide expelled, the percentage of oxygen expelled, and the volume exhaled. It also computes other factors such as oxygen consumption and respiratory exchange ratio. When the person being tested hits their peak and can no longer continue, the test is over. At this point, the trainer can determine if the peak reached was actually the person’s maximum effort.

Retesting

Since the goal of VO2 testing is to improve fitness and performance, periodic retesting is important to evaluate progress. Having the information you need about the progress you’re making allows you and your trainer to design increasingly streamlined and customized workouts for maximum benefits. Retesting gives trainers a way to help develop specific training plans to meet client goals both effectively and efficiently. It also shows how well your cardiorespiratory system can supply oxygen to your whole body and finds the anaerobic threshold at which you can perform effectively without wearing out.

Professional VO2 max testing is extremely helpful in creating workouts for everyone from beginners to endurance athletes – anyone who is looking to improve their performance through an effective and efficient plan. This test provides that customization.

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