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Professional athletes have been using VO2 Max machines for years to
find out what their true aerobic capacity is. Now you can too.
How? A rigorous fitness test (that takes around 20 minutes).
Known as the ‘gold-standard' in cardiovascular fitness testing, the
VO2 Max machine measures how efficiently your muscles use oxygen
The higher the VO2 number you get, the better your body is at using
oxygen during physical activity. This means that you can maintain peak
performance for longer.
People who have a high VO2 capacity are generally suited to endurance
sports like marathons, triathlons, long cycling events (think Tour de
France), and cross-country skiing.
‘If you're a semi-elite athlete and you're thinking about going
professional, then this test will show you what your true ability is,'
said Liam Daley, TAFE NSW Northern Beaches' Head Teacher of Sport,
Fitness and Recreation.
‘A good result is a VO2 Max of around 75. If you have a VO2 Max of
30, you will never be in the Tour de France or the Ironman
Triathlons,' he added.
The participant is attached to specialist monitoring machines while
being put through their paces on a piece of fitness equipment (usually
on a treadmill or stationary bike).
The test starts the participant exercising at a moderate level. This
level is then gradually stepped up every minute or so, to make it
harder and harder. Eventually, after around 15 – 20 minutes, the
participant will reach the very maximum of what they are capable of in
terms of aerobic capacity. Their carbon dioxide levels will have
overtaken oxygen levels, their heart rate will have reached max, and
they will have to stop due to exhaustion.
Throughout the test, the participant's breathing is analysed. The
analysis looks at the gasses going in and coming out of the
participant's mouth to see how much oxygen is used and how well this
oxygen is utilised.
‘One of the best things about this test is that we are able to see
whether you're doing your absolute maximum or not. We're watching your
carbon dioxide, oxygen and heart rate, so you might think that at 85%
you're maxing out, but we know that you're actually not at your
maximum yet and we'll keep you going until you reach your max,' said Daley.
‘It's probably the most pure test of cardiovascular
endurance-everything else is an estimate,' he added.
Yes. But only a little. According to Daley, a person's VO2 capacity
is mostly determined by genetics and only a small amount by
conditioning (around 10 percent).
You can train that 10 percent and make your VO2 a little bit better,
but overall, whether you will excel at endurance sports is mainly up
to your DNA.
‘Things that help your body uptake oxygen like your lung capacity,
blood vessels, and the size of your heart and lungs, you can't change
that,' said Daley, adding ‘the number of red blood cells and the
number of mitochondria that you've got in each blood cell, you can
If you are interested in sport and fitness (whether for your own
personal goals or for a career) come along to the TAFE NSW Northern
Beaches' Fitness, Sport and Recreation open day on 24 June. Here, you
can hear about nutrition and fitness from nutritionist Tamara Madden
and participate in fitness and strength workshops and challenges. You
can also speak to teachers and tour our state-of-the-art facilities.
For full details, visit our website.
If you are a semi-professional athlete who would like to try the
machine, you can book in to secure a spot on the day.
But, it is important to note that you need to be very, very fit. This
test is not a walk in the park. It is hard. It puts your body under
serious strain, and often it will take professional athletes days to
recover. If you are not a serious athlete, it's best that you don't
take the test.
However, if you are a serious competitor and do want to see what
you're capable of, you are more than welcome to book in to take the
(free) test. If you're interested, call Toyah on 9942 - 0490 to talk
about signing-up for testing on the day. Spots are limited, so get in
quick to secure yours!
Visit the TAFE NSW Northern Beaches Sport, Fitness and Recreation open
day website to get your name on the list.