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What is VO2max? PDF Print E-mail

VO2max is the maximal amount of oxygen the body can use during maximal exercise. It represents a physiologic ceiling for the body to produce energy for activity aerobically. In general, the higher the value the greater potential an individual has to be successful in endurance sports. Of course at the higher levels all of the athletes have a high aerobic capacity. For example, the top ten finishers at Hawaii Ironman this year will have values in 70-75 ml/kg/min range. What separates athletes at the upper levels is efficiency. The athlete that can do the most work while expending the least energy will be faster and certainly other factors will determine the outcome as well, such as nutrition, hydration, illness, etc.  This physiologic characteristic is trainable, even in elite athletes. People who are just starting to train have a greater potential for improving VO2max because they are not close to their genetic potential. Athletes who have been training for many years can expect only small gains in their aerobic capacity and this only occurs with very specific and intense training.

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