There are many forms of stress tests, one of which is known as a VO2 Max Test. This test is designed to measure an individual’s aerobic fitness by measuring the highest oxygen consumption elicited during a graded exercise. In simpler terms, this test is an all-out effort from an individual under a strict protocol designed by an exercise physiologist.

Depending on the individual being tested, the mode of exercise could change. It is important to use the type of equipment that simulates the type of movement the participant is most comfortable with, especially when testing someone who is not physically trained. To make sure an athlete’s results are accurate, it is critical that the type of equipment chosen best resembles their sport. For example Lance Armstrong would typically test on a cycle ergometer while Michael Phelps would use a swim flume.

Not only will this test measure one’s VO2 Max, but their Heart Rate (HR), Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), and Kilocalories (Kcal). Calculating Respiratory Exchange Ratio (RER) is also commonly done in conjunction with a VO2 Max Test as well as other exercise tests. This ratio is used to determine the fuel mixture during exercise. So if an individual’s RER is at .70 this means their body is using fat as the predominate fuel source. However, if their RER is .85 their body is using a mixture of fats and carbohydrates. Anything over 1.00 indicates that carbohydrates are the predominate fuel source.

As mentioned above a VO2 Max test is dependent on the modality as well as the effort from the subject. This test is also dependent on the protocol. It is highly important that the same protocol is used throughout the entire test. For most individuals, their VO2 Max should be determined within 8-12 minutes. If the subject does go past the 12 minute mark there is a chance that other mechanisms of fatigue caused the subject to quit before their VO2 Max was reached. Therefore choosing a proper protocol for the subject is a required skill for an exercise physiologist.

This test typically cost about $80-$100 however, as a Canisius student I have been able to utilize this machinery and have conducted multiple VO2 Tests on students and local athletes.

See you next time!