Part 1 of 2 | IMAGE: Helen Maroulis, First Team USA Women’s Wrestling Olympic Gold Medal, Helen’s goal to win Gold in Rio began at PHASE IV with a metabolic training program based on her VO2 analysis
By Shelby Stoner, MS, PHASE IV Exercise Physiologist
Fall is officially upon us! With summer activities winding down, kids back in school, and the holidays approaching, now is as good a time as any to personalize your fitness routine! The best way to reach personal goals is to identify your starting point and strategically plan your fitness trajectory. At PHASE IV, we strongly believe in personalizing all nutrition and exercise programs to YOUR physiology, which is accomplished through scientific metabolic analyses known as Resting Metabolic Rate Testing (RMR) and VO2 Testing.
What is VO2 testing?
VO2 testing is commonly used to determine one’s VO2 max. VO2 max, also known as maximal oxygen uptake, is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during exercise. It is a common measurement used to determine one’s fitness level and establish an understanding of how metabolically efficient you are during exercise (i.e. how long you are burning fats versus carbohydrates). However, not all VO2 testing has to go until maximum effort. There is a common misconception that VO2 testing is only for elite athletes and does not apply to the general population. Luckily, VO2 testing is much more accessible and affordable these days to those simply looking to improve fitness, lose weight, and increase performance.
How is VO2 Max Measured?
A VO2 test is a graded exercise test that requires the subject to breathe through an oxygen consumption analyzer during increasing levels of exercise intensity. This can be done on almost any mode of exercise, from the treadmill, spin bike, road bike, elliptical, or even rower! While exercising, the subject is usually wearing a mask that collects each breath for a measurement of the volume of oxygen consumed and carbon dioxide that’s expired. The average length for a VO2 test is about 10-15 minutes.
Why Should I Test my VO2?
VO2 Testing allows fitness professionals to see a “snapshot” of your physiology during exercise. This tells us at exactly which heart rates your body is efficient in burning fat, and when the body starts to switch from favoring fats to carbohydrates as a primary fuel source (the crossover point). An initial VO2 test can clarify the specific heart rates that will enable each individual to reach their fitness and weight loss goals more effectively, with less fatigue and fewer injuries. Periodic retesting of the VO2 also provides motivating feedback as your metabolism responds to training and fitness level increases.
What is Considered a “Good” VO2 Max?
There are many different sources for determining what is considered a favorable VO2 max, but here are the criterion we utilize at PHASE IV that align with typical ACSM standards.
MALES (measured in ml/kg/min)
FEMALES (measured in ml/kg/min)
Does VO2 Max Change with Age?
On average, VO2 max may decrease by 10% per decade. Usually the peak is around your 20s and sometime in your 30s VO2 max starts to decline. However, with regular aerobic exercise and physical activity, it’s possible to raise your VO2 and turn back the clock!
Is VO2 Max Affected by my Size?
VO2 max is unique to each individual and is directly proportional to their height, weight, and body surface area. This is measured in ml/kg/min, so your body composition will play a role in determining your VO2 max. For example, those with more muscle mass will have higher VO2’s because muscle has more metabolic activity than fat. This is the primary reason why men typically have higher VO2’s than women. In addition, weight loss can affect your VO2. Since VO2 is directly proportional to your weight, as the unwanted pounds start to come off, VO2 in turn increases and your aerobic fitness improves.
Interested in VO2 Testing? Whether your goals are related to weight loss or improved performance, PHASE IV science has the answers. Call us to schedule a complimentary 30-minute health and fitness consultation at our facility in Santa Monica 310-582-8212 or email Shelby directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.