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Calculating VO2 Max

BhimaBhima Posts: 2,145
edited September 2009 in Training, fitness and health
Is there a cheap/free way of estimating this without all the lab equipment involved?

Recently Greg Lemond wanted Alberto Contador to "prove he was clean" and was making all sorts of claims about his VO2 Max using some kind of calculation... What calculation was that, and how reliable is it?

There's a test out there which involves running for 12 minutes and putting your distance into an equation to come up with your VO2 Max figure - does this work for cyclists and is there a cycling equivilent?

If there was a way of measuring it, it would be a good way to track your fitness every so often, on par with power measurement I reckon...

Posts

  • sandbagsandbag Posts: 429
    edited August 2009
    This one. Yes VO2 max is VO2 max. Remember the gym scene in American Flyers.
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/berardi28.htm
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/vo2max.htm#impatient
  • sandbagsandbag Posts: 429
    Another
    Do a 5-minute uphill time trial as fast as you can maintain. That will be your VO2max power.

    You don't have a power meter on your bike? then you can use a online calculator to estimate power:

    Divide that number by your weight in kilograms, now you have your power-to-weight ratio (PTW). Use this formula to estimate VO2max:

    VO2max = 12 * PTW + 3.3
  • BhimaBhima Posts: 2,145
    Cheers.

    Surely the "meters covered per 12 minutes of running" depends on how good you are at running...? People seem to swear by that method, even people who aren't runners...
    sandbag wrote:
    Another
    Do a 5-minute uphill time trial as fast as you can maintain. That will be your VO2max power.

    You don't have a power meter on your bike? then you can use a online calculator to estimate power:

    Divide that number by your weight in kilograms, now you have your power-to-weight ratio (PTW). Use this formula to estimate VO2max:

    VO2max = 12 * PTW + 3.3

    I used this: http://analyticcycling.com/ForcesPower_Page.html to estimate power using average gradients and average speeds from some of the hills I always time myself up. I've used 3 hills as examples in the calculation and it's come out with 41, 58 and 61.

    So perhaps I need to do the test properly and with a powermeter to make things more accurate.
  • mikeqmikeq Posts: 141
    The problem with these though is that you are "estimating" somewhere along the line. The only way to measure your VO2 Max is in a lab surely, anything else is going to be off
    Cycling from Glasgow to Paris to raise funds for Asthma UK

    www.velochallenge.org
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    I recently contacted a local university about VO2max testing. Cost is £60+VAT if you do it on your own or £50+VAT for 3 or more at the same time. Not much really. Alternatively, find a univesity with a sports science/physiology department and see if you can volunteer for any studies that require endurance trained athletes and involve a VO2max test. I did just that a couple of years back (for a study looking at the effects of low and high GI diets on glycogen recovery which involved 90mins cycling at 70% VO2max).

    I can't see the point in estimating VO2max - seems about as useful as estimating HRmax using empirical formulae.
    More problems but still living....
  • Bhima wrote:
    Is there a cheap/free way of estimating this without all the lab equipment involved?
    No.

    Not that it is all that relevant a number anyway.
  • BhimaBhima Posts: 2,145
    Right, cheers.

    I do know some sports scienc students, so i'll give them a call! Didn't think of that...
  • lochindaallochindaal Posts: 472
    For running the "Beep Test" is a measure of your V02 max. Can't remeber though if the level reached proved how good you were or if it tied to a specific value, think the latter though.
  • lochindaal wrote:
    For running the "Beep Test" is a measure of your V02 max. Can't remeber though if the level reached proved how good you were or if it tied to a specific value, think the latter though.
    gimmick
  • I did the Rockport 1 mile Walk test.

    With a brisk walk I got 55.
    With a gentle run on the beach including groyne jumping I got 60.
    (with a heart rate monitor and nokia sports tracker)

    That is rated as the highest category.
    I really didn't think I was very fit. So this surprised me greatly.

    Is there a better way to measure aerobic fitness without spending more than £200?
    How would I measure it on a stationary bike?
    Where's the closest place to me that can do it in a lab with measuring air intake (Poole, Dorset, UK) What to search for in Yellow Pages?
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    jago25_98 wrote:
    I did the Rockport 1 mile Walk test.

    With a brisk walk I got 55.
    With a gentle run on the beach including groyne jumping I got 60.
    (with a heart rate monitor and nokia sports tracker)

    That is rated as the highest category.
    I really didn't think I was very fit. So this surprised me greatly.

    Is there a better way to measure aerobic fitness without spending more than £200?
    How would I measure it on a stationary bike?
    Where's the closest place to me that can do it in a lab with measuring air intake (Poole, Dorset, UK) What to search for in Yellow Pages?

    Enter a bike race.
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    jago25_98 wrote:
    Where's the closest place to me that can do it in a lab with measuring air intake (Poole, Dorset, UK) What to search for in Yellow Pages?
    The sports science department of your nearest university (prob Southampton).

    But as has been said, VO2 max is just a number and pretty meaningless. Threshold power is a more useful determinant of potential cycling ability.
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    The bleep test can give you the approximate number and from that it can predict your race times. Its pretty close on for me - but its just a bit of fun really.
  • EdwinEdwin Posts: 785
    +1 for NapoleonD's reply - if you win, then you're fit enough. If you don't win, train harder :)

    Seriously, if you really want to know without spending money on the test, then try to volunteer for an experiment at your nearest university with a sports science department. That's what I did, FWIW my value was 65 ml/kg/min but that was a few years ago so I'd be interested to see if it's improved. Then again, I'm starting to be convinced into getting a powermeter to get some numbers to work with....
  • It's probably only any good if you keep using the same method to measure your VO2 each time. I get 2 different medicals each year one uses the chester step test and i usually score mid 40's the other uses an old exercise bike and i get around 70. :?
  • APIIIAPIII Posts: 2,010
    I would think any of these numbers, VO2Max, threshold, etc. are only useful if you have a way of accurately repeating the test on a frequent basis, thus being able to measure any gains. Otherwise they're just numbers.
  • chrisw12chrisw12 Posts: 1,246
    lochindaal wrote:
    For running the "Beep Test" is a measure of your V02 max. Can't remeber though if the level reached proved how good you were or if it tied to a specific value, think the latter though.
    gimmick

    Interested why you say 'gimmick' here Alex? Do you mean the beep test is a gimmick or that the numbers you get are the gimmick.

    I'm also interested in what Cougie says in that his beep score predicts his running times, Isn''t the beep test a very similar model as you (RST) use to get MAP results, which you then also use to extrapolate to predict race performance?

    I'm not trying to be argumentative here, just thinking of the validity of any ramp tests.
  • BhimaBhima Posts: 2,145
    NapoleonD wrote:
    jago25_98 wrote:
    Is there a better way to measure aerobic fitness without spending more than £200?

    Enter a bike race.

    Unless you're talking about TTs, Bike races are a poor way of measuring fitness. You don't get any figures/numbers from it because a lot of it is to do with tactics and outsmarting opponents.

    I'm starting to think that something like the beep test or the "run for x minutes" test may be a good way of measuring VO2 Max vaguely - it might not be accurate, but if I do the tests regularly, at least the results will be consistent and there would be a chance that I could see some kind of trend...
  • freehubfreehub Posts: 4,257
    If you want to go to all this effort to calculate your VO2 Max just give up.
  • Just out of interest, why did you get a powertap if you can't afford the relevant tests to set up thresholds etc?
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • BhimaBhima Posts: 2,145
    How do you mean? You don't need to do a VO2 Max test in order to use a powermeter...

    (Don't have a powertap yet, btw)
  • Bhima wrote:
    How do you mean? You don't need to do a VO2 Max test in order to use a powermeter...

    (Don't have a powertap yet, btw)

    :roll:

    Are you intending to just strap the thing on and go riding? If you are you may as well save yourself a few pretty pennies and not bother.

    A proper lab test would establish VO2max, Max HR and peak power. If you can afford a powertap you should be able to afford that.
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • BhimaBhima Posts: 2,145
    Well, I didn't say I couldn't afford it, I just wanted to know if there was a cheaper way. When the new term starts, i'm getting down to my mate's UNI to get a free test anyway.

    You can use a power meter without knowing exact VO2 Max figures. It's not essential that you know it at all, I don't see your point there...?
  • chrisw12 wrote:
    lochindaal wrote:
    For running the "Beep Test" is a measure of your V02 max. Can't remeber though if the level reached proved how good you were or if it tied to a specific value, think the latter though.
    gimmick

    Interested why you say 'gimmick' here Alex? Do you mean the beep test is a gimmick or that the numbers you get are the gimmick.

    I'm also interested in what Cougie says in that his beep score predicts his running times, Isn''t the beep test a very similar model as you (RST) use to get MAP results, which you then also use to extrapolate to predict race performance?

    I'm not trying to be argumentative here, just thinking of the validity of any ramp tests.
    it's possible I've misinterpreted what the beep test is. I thought this was one of those "wear your heart rate monitor and lie down for five minutes to find out your supposed VO2max" tests
  • BronzieBronzie Posts: 4,927
    it's possible I've misinterpreted what the beep test is.
    "Beep Test" as I know it is shuttle runs over a 20m distance in time with a standardised "beeps" soundtrack - as the test progresses, the beeps get closer and closer together so you run to exhaustion. The test stops when you can't reach the turn before the next beep and that is your score for the test.

    Used by many bodies who set minimum fitness entry requirement standards (Police service for instance).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-stage_fitness_test
  • Bhima wrote:
    You can use a power meter without knowing exact VO2 Max figures. It's not essential that you know it at all, I don't see your point there...?

    Sweet Jesus.

    My point is if you're getting a powertap and will be doing a proper lab test, your VO2max will be included in the results. Trying to find some "cheap" (read unreliable) way to establish yours is pretty pointless.
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • Bhima wrote:
    NapoleonD wrote:
    jago25_98 wrote:
    Is there a better way to measure aerobic fitness without spending more than £200?

    Enter a bike race.

    Unless you're talking about TTs, Bike races are a poor way of measuring fitness. You don't get any figures/numbers from it because a lot of it is to do with tactics and outsmarting opponents.

    You might want to try doing some bike races before making that judgement...
    "In many ways, my story was that of a raging, Christ-like figure who hauled himself off the cross, looked up at the Romans with blood in his eyes and said 'My turn, sock cookers'"

    @gietvangent
  • Bronzie wrote:
    it's possible I've misinterpreted what the beep test is.
    "Beep Test" as I know it is shuttle runs over a 20m distance in time with a standardised "beeps" soundtrack - as the test progresses, the beeps get closer and closer together so you run to exhaustion. The test stops when you can't reach the turn before the next beep and that is your score for the test.

    Used by many bodies who set minimum fitness entry requirement standards (Police service for instance).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-stage_fitness_test
    Gotcha. I was thinking bike riding and HRMs with "features".

    Yeah - that would be akin to a MAP test. In general, MAP is a little higher than you might call power at VO2 Max, although that in iteself is a pretty fuzzy notion since there is quite a wide range of power at which one can induce VO2 Max.
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