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VO2 max

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VO2 max

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Oct 22, 2010 5:36 pm

Has anyone had their VO2 Max measured and compared it to a calculated or theoretical score? If so, how close were the measured score and the calculated score? There are a number of calculations for VO2 Max based on very different criteria. Some are based solely on theoretical criteria such as maximum heart rate and resting heart rate while others use actual performace (race paces and finish times), age, weight, and gender, etc. Using each of these calculations my score remains very consistent.
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Re: VO2 max

Postby Ze » Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:54 pm

I've done a max test a bunch of times (one a month ago). For me the estimates are pretty good...underestimate a little bit, at least when using ones that use actual times. Haven't used a heart rate estimate one.

VO2 max is a relatively poor indicator of endurance conditioning. Good for telling you how much you weigh though.
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Re: VO2 max

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Oct 22, 2010 10:14 pm

Ze wrote:I've done a max test a bunch of times (one a month ago). For me the estimates are pretty good...underestimate a little bit, at least when using ones that use actual times. Haven't used a heart rate estimate one.

VO2 max is a relatively poor indicator of endurance conditioning. Good for telling you how much you weigh though.


Thanks for the response. I'm actually more interested in VO2 Max as an indicator of ability to perform at altitude as I read on some thread that it was some how important for that. I also attended a slide show by Ed Viestures in which he credited his lung capacity and VO2 Max for his ability to perform well at altitude.
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Re: VO2 max

Postby Apex » Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:46 am

I did mine two years ago when I was training competitively for National Rowing Championships. It was based off of an erg-score time (equivalent of a running race) my weight, and age. Think it was calculated to be 63.4 and I weighed in at 132 lbs. For my age and weight apparently that was above "Excellent", based on the chart, whatever that means.. I have heard snippets of information and opinions on V02 max and using it as an ability to perform well at altitude but nothing concluding that it was definitely a sign of ones potential at altitude. I'd think that it would come down to alot more than that though, including body mass index, lung capacity, strength-to-weight ratio, genes, among others. I'm sure there are some crazy austrian cross-country skiers with V02 max's off the charts that would do poorly at altitude. Look at Reinhold Messner for example, his V02 max was pretty well average and he was obviously capable and fit enough to climb Everest without O2...
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Re: VO2 max

Postby ExcitableBoy » Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:28 pm

knoback wrote:I am a skeptic, but I'm not trying to be a smart-ass, I'd really like to know how you'd make use of the information.


It is purely idle curiosity. I was looking at a running Web site that had a VO2 Max calculator so I calculated it which led me to wonder 1) Is it accurate and 2) What the score means in terms of mountaineering ability. I have never been much above 6,000 meters so I don't have any real world experience to gauge my performance. Not that this means anything at all, I really don't have any desire to go above 6,000 meters.
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Re: VO2 max

Postby Ze » Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:38 am

ExcitibleBoy wrote:
Ze wrote:I've done a max test a bunch of times (one a month ago). For me the estimates are pretty good...underestimate a little bit, at least when using ones that use actual times. Haven't used a heart rate estimate one.

VO2 max is a relatively poor indicator of endurance conditioning. Good for telling you how much you weigh though.


Thanks for the response. I'm actually more interested in VO2 Max as an indicator of ability to perform at altitude as I read on some thread that it was some how important for that. I also attended a slide show by Ed Viestures in which he credited his lung capacity and VO2 Max for his ability to perform well at altitude.



It will act as an indicator - again because of the bodyweight issue. I'll use my own measurements since I have those. 5'11" - hasn't changed in a long time. 3 years ago, weighed 185 and VO2 max was 5.35 L / min , so my scaled value was ~ 63.6 ml/min/kg. Took it a month ago - VO2 max was 5.45 L/min but weighed 192 lbs, so scaled was 62.4.

The weight gain was independent of the slight (probably error) 0.1 L/min gain in VO2. Hopefully most muscle and not fat! But either way, it indicates an increase in workload. I could easily drop 30 lbs and still have an absolute VO2 max ~ 5.4 L/min. That would significantly increase the scaled value (ml/min/kg), probably into the mid 70's.

You can be fit and still have problems at altitude - but certainly weighing less and having a lower workload will help at altitude. If I weighed less, my body will need less oxygen for each step up the mountain.

Screw VO2 - there should be some indicator like BMI that evaluates your weight to frame ratio. You should be skinny for your height / frame size if you want to perform best at altitude (yes you need a little muscle, but not that much).
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Re: VO2 max

Postby ExcitableBoy » Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:14 pm

Ze wrote:
Screw VO2 - there should be some indicator like BMI that evaluates your weight to frame ratio. You should be skinny for your height / frame size if you want to perform best at altitude (yes you need a little muscle, but not that much).


Hmmm, I had never heard that before. Is this based on your personal experience? The folks I know that have done well at altitude e.g. climbed multiple 8,000 meter peaks w/o supplemental O2 were not skinny people. They weren't fat, but had broad shoulders, big chests, and big thighs.
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Re: VO2 max

Postby Ze » Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:59 pm

no I don't know, just speaking in general terms - weight ~ workload. I don't know what the optimal muscle mass is, but suffice to say the muscle needed will adjust based on demand - if one is hiking with 40 lbs of stuff on steep slopes, they will likely have a "decent" amount of muscle mass out of necessity. Whatever muscle mass is needed to support weight / motion will occur with someone weightlifting on the side.

Weightlifting with heavy weights can get you more muscle - but it basically becomes dead weight above and beyond what amount is functionally needed. I doubt mountaineers have "big" everything - they may have broad shoulders (bone frame) and decent thighs (force demand for quads / glutes / calves is pretty good going uphill).

in endurance sports, you see variety between people, but in general runners / cyclists are thin (think cost of accelerating inertia). They're not sprinters. Perhaps in mountaineering the cost of inertia isn't high (not quickly swinging limbs). Adding in the high altitude component, you want someone who can get in a lot of oxygen (lung capacity?) relative to what is needed (weight / inertia). I wonder what the research says on this.

Heart size and strength is associated with frame size - taller people will have larger hearts (higher VO2, but also weigh more). Who knows if there is an optimal frame - but for sure you want a big heart / relative to weight + huge lung capacity relative to weight.

oh yeah here's a link to my vo2 test - plus some more unclear ranting (if you haven't had enough)
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Re: VO2 max

Postby Vinny » Mon Oct 25, 2010 7:23 pm

Reaching back to exercise physiology studies I recall that a significant portion of VO2max is literally due to airway size (diameter of trachea etc) and lung volume. It sticks with me since it was surprisingly obvious.

Sherpas for example do have larger lungs (genetic) in addition to generally more red blood cells (environmental). And recall Hero Bjørn Dæhlie measured at an astounding 96 ml/kg/min - a part of this is genetic. WIKIpedia.
Stick that in your avalung and smoke it.

The good news is you have no control over these factors so they are the ultimate 'blame the gear' excuse. ; )
The bad news is it is a differentiator between people's capacity to perform period. Airway diameter has nothing to do with effort or working out or deserving it in any way.
There are people that will perform well off the couch and the opposite is true too.
Other good news for the "have's" is that the advantage transaltes to all other aerobic sports too- so mid western mountaineers can focus more on nordic skiing and less on the next big trip to the Rockies. ; )

Living in Switzerland I noticed discrepancies between people's ability to do 4000m peak weekends but Guiding in Nepal I tried to predict who would get altitude symptoms and who would not and never could nail it.

I suspect there is also variation in interpretation of the symptoms between people (similar but different to pain response).
I recall feeling OK at 6500m but not being comfortable enough with how my body felt to want to push up a technical 2 axe ice wall. My partners seemed to not even ask the question despite having the similar predictable signs of altitude. Everything turned out OK but I'll be the first to confess that I didn't like the thought of not having control over this factor of how my body response was suddenly an objective risk.
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