VO2max test

A few weeks back I agreed to be a guinea pig in a research project at AUT. The aim of the research is to evaluate the performance impact on ‘highly trained triathletes/cyclists’ when chewing gum that contained a variety of legal substances (carbohydrates, caffeine, a combination, and for validation, a placebo). Part of the test involved finding out my aerobic capacity through a VO2max test on an instrumented exercycle. It was also to see whether I qualify for the study (I needed to get a V02max at least 55 ml/kg/min).

Since I had not done a VO2max test before, I didn’t know what to expect. Basically it involved jumping on a fancy exercycle and cycling with my nose plugged and breathing through a tube. I’d just like to point out that exercising in this arrangement is not overly comfortable. It also took a little while to get used to using the restrictive breathing apparatus.

The test started off a light resistance setting of 100W. If you dropped your cadence the bike increased the resistance; if you over pedal the bike made it easier. This way you are always inputting prescribed power level. After 5 minutes of that, the next stage, which started immediately, involved maintaining an additional 50W. And so on for the subsequent stages.

I can’t remember what stage I conked out on, but the results from the test were as follows:

  • V02max: 4.63 L/min (which is 57.38 ml/kg/min when you factor in my weight of 80.68kg).
  • VT1 threshold: 200W, 64% of V02max, 147 bpm, 80% HR max.
  • VT2 threshold: 300W, 83% of V02max, 165 bpm, 90% HR max.

In summary, I made the cut! I have a large aerobic capacity and a fairly high relative V02max. It also provided me with suggestions for areas of improvement. My aerobic thresholds are good for a trained athlete but require improvement. For instance, a highly trained athlete would have 70-75% and 85-90% for the VT1 and VT2 thresholds respectively. And just to put things in perspective, an elite level athlete would have VT1 and VT2 thresholds in the order of 75-80% and 90-93% respectively.

I also got some recommendations as to how I could raise my VT1 and VT2 thresholds through smarter training. I need to do an easier cycle pace on my long bike rides and runs so that my heart rate is below 145 bpm. Meanwhile to improve the VT2 threshold I was advised to integrate in some harder training workouts (tempo, hill repetitions, interval trainings etc) where my heart rate was above 165 bpm. I guess I better suss out a heart rate monitor and get technical!