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### What is VO2 max? In plain english?

And why doesn't it vary with weight?
Michael B
July 12th, 2007 4:23pm
This seems to cover it...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VO2_max
Ward
July 12th, 2007 4:26pm
Unless I'm misreading it, if you had two identical people, equally fit, but one had more muscle, you'd expect the heavier person's VO2max to be higher overall, but the same per kilo.
Ward
July 12th, 2007 4:28pm
My admittedly thin understanding is that the more oxygen you can push to your cells the more energy you can release and the more work you can do.

It can be developed, but the limits seem to be genetic.
son of parnas
July 12th, 2007 4:29pm
I tried the Wikipedia article first.  I couldn't make much practical sense out of it.
Michael B
July 12th, 2007 4:32pm
What sop said is what I've always understood - higher means your body can process more oxygen, you stay in an aerobic regime instead of going to anaerobic.  I know that anaerobic is bad, I'd have to read some more to remember exactly why.
Ward
July 12th, 2007 4:36pm
Ward
July 12th, 2007 4:37pm
It's the maximum consumption of oxygen your body is capable of - this is not the maximum energy output because your body can operate for short periods beyond those limits.
Billx
July 12th, 2007 4:38pm
Put simply, it is a measure of sustained human power output. It's important in the Tour de France, since the cyclists with higher total VO2 max will be putting more horsepower down on the road and will therefore be going faster.

If VO2 max is quoted as say 45 ml/min/kg, then clearly it doesn't vary with weight because it is "per kilogram" and that takes weight out of the measurement. On the other hand if the total is quoted as say 3.5 litres/minute then it may vary with weight as a bigger, stronger person may have a higher total power output than a smaller, weaker person.

Although I used the word "horsepower" above, that is slightly misleading since even the strongest, fittest athlete is unable to produce more than a fraction of a horsepower.
bon vivant
July 12th, 2007 4:47pm
VO2 max is defined as the maximal amount of oxygen the body is able to extract and use to support work performed by the body. It is therefore an indirect measure of the aerobic power of the body, which is controlled by complex interactions between neural (brain and nervous system), cardiovascular (heart and lungs) and skeletal muscle factors.

http://ezinearticles.com/?VO2-Max--Exposing-the-Myth&id=60863

...

I have sickle cell anemia trait, so supposedly, 37% of my blood cells are sickle-shaped, and therefore carry less oxygen. It is more difficult for me to increase my VO2 max, then.  I get winded easily, so I have to focus on breathing when doing intense cardiovascular exercise.
sharkfish
July 12th, 2007 5:13pm
>>> I have sickle cell anemia trait,

omg! you're black!
Ward
July 13th, 2007 1:08am