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Performance Testing - VO2 Analysis

What is VO2 Max?


Let’s start with VO2 max before diving into the specifics of the test .

VO2max is a shorter and abbreviated term for maximal oxygen consumption. During intense or maximal exercise, the term would refer to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can use.


It’s measured in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minutes (ml/kg/min) that requires two determining factors:

  • The amount of blood your heart can pump out to the muscles with each beat (cardiac output).

  • The efficiency of your muscles when extracting oxygen from the blood and utilizing it.

This measurement is widely considered the best indicator of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance. The more oxygen an individual can utilize when performing a high-level exercise, the more energy can be produced.

As such, this test is the gold standard for determining cardiorespiratory fitness because muscles require oxygen for prolonged aerobic exercise, and the heart must pump adequate amounts of blood through the circulation to meet the demands of aerobic exercise. The bottom line is the higher your VO2max score, the more aerobic potential you have. However, with the right training, you can increase your VO2max. And perhaps more importantly, you’ll be able to increase your efficiency at higher outputs of speed and power.

VO2 max testing is a test for maximal performance on a treadmill or bike with connected to a machine that utilizes expired air to analyze your VO2 max.


The results of the test provide information on how much oxygen an individual uses as they perform exercises and determines the maximum amount of oxygen someone can consume during exercise. This method is seen as one of the gold-standards for measurements of endurance. Alongside an individual’s VO2 max, their ventilatory threshold is also measured from expired air. We are able to use this information to further analyze someones fitness level. This threshold is the exercise intensity that your muscles are fatiguing due to lactic acid

buildup and the intensity you cannot maintain for long. Essentially, this is just above the level at which you normally train at. With training, your ventilatory threshold will increase and get closer to your VO2 max


Benefits of VO2 max testing:

● Accurate measurement of current fitness

● Ability to design a more effective training program

● Evaluation of effectiveness of training programs

● Prediction of maximal steady-state running speed or cycling wattage

How do you test VO2 max?

A face mask is placed on the person being tested (the subject), which allows for direct measurement of the volume and gas concentrations of inspired and expired air. This breath-by-breath measurement is agreed upon by many researchers as being one of the most accurate ways to analyze VO2

The test involves exercising (often running or bicycling) at an intensity that increases every few minutes until exhaustion and is created to achieve a maximal effort. During this test, the individual’s maximum heart rate is also determined which, along with resting heart rate, can be utilized to develop a more precise target heart rate range. As a result of this process,


clear insight into the subject’s current fitness level is ascertained along with information as to how to most efficiently improve their fitness level.


We now offer the PNOE VO2 testing at MetaTherapy - contact us for more details.




Ricky Chen, Student Author

Honours Kinesiology Co-op

Undergraduate, University of Waterloo


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