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Exercise (VO2max) Testing

What’s your level of fitness?

What is Exercise Testing?

Simply stated, it’s a combination of physiological measurements that are taken while a patient is hooked up to a machine and is exercising at varying intensity levels on either a treadmill or bicycle ergometer. We measure cardiovascular fitness, VO2 and VO2 Max, metabolic efficiency, anaerobic threshold, rate of perceived exertion, speed/pace on the exercise equipment and much more. Knowing this data will allow us to discover your personal “formula” for health and fitness success. For athletes, we use the measurements to write out a detailed and customized training plan with specific heart-rate zones, exercise prescriptions and diet information tailored to the race or sport you are focused on. For recreational exercisers, we write similar programs depending on your needs and goals.

Benefits of Testing

Still wondering why you should know your VO2max? VO2 is the amount of oxygen you’re able to consume and use for working muscle, and your VO2max is a measure of aerobic power in athletes and is the maximum amount of oxygen you’re able to take in and utilize for working muscles. The more oxygen you can use during exercise, the better off you’ll be in exercise and in life. VO2 is measured by looking at ventilation (this is one reason why you’ll wear a mouthpiece during a test) and the amount of O2/CO2 that goes in and comes out. Many other factors are part of the equation.

Exercise (VO2max) Testing

VO2max is highly correlated with endurance sport performance, as well as your ability to reach and sustain certain intensities during cardiovascular exercise. Determining your V02max is considered the best indicator of an athlete’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. V02max can be increased in two ways: Training volume and training intensity. Testing is the only way to learn the most efficient workout intensities for your unique physiology. By discovering your VO2max we are able to design an exercise plan that will ensure proper training and maximum results.

VO2max measurements can determine an athlete’s potential for success but other factors are involved, too. Through exercise testing, we can also measure your anaerobic threshold and metabolic efficiency.

Stay tuned for our next newsletter to find out more about these concepts and how they might be more important than even VO2max. Or schedule an appointment with OC Sports and Wellness to get exercise tested right away!

Exercise Testing is covered by most PPO health insurance plans.

Frequently Asked Questions


VO2max Interview with Dr. Sunshine

Why Test VO2max?
  • V02max is the best measure of cardiorespiratory function or fitness
  • Those who are fit have higher V02max values and can exercise at a higher intensity. Also, high fit individuals live, on average, 9 years longer than unfit individuals
  • V02max is a measure of how well the muscles utilize oxygen to generate power. However, it is more useful as an indicator of a person’s aerobic potential than as a predictor of success in endurance events
How is VO2max Determined?
  • There are multiple methods used to determine V02max
  • We are able to measure expired oxygen and carbon dioxide while an athlete is wearing a mask and exercising on a treadmill or cycle ergometer: the most precise method in determining V02max. Testing is performed in a medical clinic with medical-grade equipment where we can also evaluate heart function
  • The heart rate, oxygen consumption, power output, rate of perceived exertion and respiratory quotient are followed
  • VO2max is the point where oxygen consumption plateaus despite an increase in exercise intensity
How Does Training Improve VO2max?
  • Numerous studies have shown that an athlete can increase their VO2max by working out at an intensity that raises their heart rate between 65%-85% of their maximum heart rate for at least 20 minutes three to five times per week
  • Training enables an athlete to perform at a higher percentage of the V02max for prolonged periods due to improvements in anaerobic threshold and running economy
  • In contrast to endurance training, resistance training alone do not increase V02max
What is Lactate Threshold Testing & Why is It Important?
  • First of all, we hit our Lactate Threshold (LT) during exercise when our muscles are unable to manage the build-up of produced lactate. Lactate Threshold is the inflection point where muscles switch to working under anaerobic conditions rather than aerobic conditions. We are unable to maintain anaerobic exercise for very long
  • Essentially, there are two kinds of exercisers in the world: The minority who know what they are doing and the majority who don’t. The biggest training breakthrough in the last 20 years is training in heart-rate zones. The determination of Lactate Threshold provides a foundation from which training zones and training programs can be established
  • Stated another way, optimum training can be accomplished by using heart rates that are based on an athlete’s Lactate Threshold
  • Over-training remains prevalent among athletes. Training zones below LT promote recovery and endurance adaptations, training at LT will improve LT, and training above LT will develop VO2max and anaerobic capacity
  • Ultimately, LT training is designed to enhance the muscle’s ability to deal effectively with lactate
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