VO2max test #2

I’ve agreed to be a participant in another AUT research project. Same deal as last time: get a free V02max test and perform several trials. This time they’re looking at the effect of drink temperature while cycling in hot and humid conditions.

I have just completed the first stage: the V02max test. I’m pleased to know that I am apparently fitter since my last V02max test. This time I got 61 ml/kg/min (compared to 57 ml/kg/min back in September 2012). The test protocol consisted of 5 minutes at 100W, followed by 25W increments every minute until exhaustion. I conked out just as the 425W stage ended.

While I’m chuffed that my V02max test result has improved I’m under no illusions that this metric is the be all and end all of describing fitness. It’s just one of several factors. Purely out of curiosity and completeness, here’s a table on the net showing the different fitness for males of various age groups.


Mind you, I’m not surprised that my V02max has improved since last time. A few things have happened since then: I’ve ran the Auckland Marathon, biked the Lake Taupo Challenge Enduro, swam the Taupo 5k Epic, but above all else, completed an Ironman!

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!