Vo2 Max Testing


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VO2 Max testing is a relatively new concept here in the Philippines but it has been widely used worldwide. It was initially very popular in the cycling scene abroad (e.g. Tour de France) but more and more sports start to see the benefits of it. While initially meant to be a screening metric for athletic potential, it has consistently shown that there’s more to it than that alone. In reality, VO2Max testing is only a subset of Metabolic Testing. This is another important performance test that you can utilize to excel in whatever sport or event you take part in. What is VO2 Max?

VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilize. As we increase intensity, our body needs to produce more energy. Like a combustion engine, it needs fuel (e.g. carbs or fat) and oxygen to facilitate the “burning” process. As we increase the intensity that we perform a given task (e.g. running, cycling, rowing, etc.) we increase our demand for both fuel and oxygen. Eventually, we will reach a physiological limit where our oxygen utilization starts to plateau – this is our VO2 Max. Why is it important?

Think of your VO2Max as your ceiling. A high VO2 Max generally coincides with better performance. It gives you a wider range in which you can operate. People with a low VO2 Max can potentially underperform since their body might max out its oxygen utilization (and in effect, energy production) at lower intensities. What factors influence VO2 Max? A lot of things can influence your VO2 Max but in general, fitness, fueling, and genetics are the main factors. Well-trained athletes generally have higher VO2 Max values. This means they’re able to utilize a lot of oxygen and in effect utilize their available fuel to produce energy. Since intensity is associated to work rate (i.e. power) and work is defined the amount of energy produced over time, producing a lot of energy or doing a lot of work in a short amount of time (and maintaining this) is important if you want to perform better. On the flip side, if you don’t have enough fuel to sustain the oxidation process, then your VO2 Max will be severely limited. This is why some people are unable to reach higher values for power and speed. Genetics can also play a role in VO2 Max values.This has been increasingly verified by studies and are becoming available to the regular athlete via DNA tests. However, it should be noted that your genetics do not necessarily put a limit on your capabilities as an athlete. Think of these as a probability range that give you a better way of understanding your body. Genetics are merely a part of the equation. The even larger part is how you manipulate your body so certain traits manifest or certain abilities are maximized. Think of it this way, he more you know about it, the better you can influence it. What’s the difference between VO2 Max Testing and Metabolic Testing?

Measuring your VO2 Max is only a small part of the bigger picture – Metabolic Testing. Like VO2 Max testing, metabolic testing measures the amount of oxygen you consume but it adds another important variable, the amount of carbon dioxide you produce. By measuring both your oxygen consumption and your carbon dioxide production, we can unlock an entirely new set of data: the number of calories you burn and how much of these come from carbohydrates and fat. This is important if you want to manage your nutrition and caloric demands. Whether you want to lose weight, bulk up, or improve your fueling strategy during competition, metabolic testing is an important test that gives you tons of insights.How can VO2 Max and Metabolic Testing help me?

There are three main ways where you can benefit from these tests:

  1. Metabolic testing allows you to determine your VO2 Max which is an important performance metric. Since higher VO2 Max values are associated with better performance, knowing whether your VO2 Max is your limiter and more importantly, understanding how you can improve it is very valuable. This is another valuable insight about your fitness level and shows us what it takes to level up your performance.
  2. Metabolic testing allows you to measure your calorie expenditure across different efforts. Oftentimes, the main limiter in competition is not fitness but rather nutrition. By understanding how much fuel you need you can make sure you’re not shortchanging your performance. By knowing your caloric demands, you can also lose weight, prevent unnecessary weight gain, reduce chronic fatigue, and even prevent the dreaded “bonk.” Based on our results, we can come up with a nutrition/fueling plan that will allow you to perform at your best.
  3. Metabolic testing gives you your Respiratory Exchange Ratio or RER. This is closely associated with calorie expenditure as RER shows us where your calories come from (i.e. carbs or fat). This is important depending on your goals or sport. For endurance athletes, fat utilization is key to success. We want to be able to preserve your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores so you don’t “hit the wall” or “bonk” during a race. Once you run out of carbohydrates, your performance will drop drastically and this is a very unpleasant and debilitating experience. On the other hand, for short distance athletes or other sports such as basketball/football, understanding carbohydrate utilization is important since this is a more volatile and explosive fuel source. However, even with all the carbo-loading meals you take, carbohydrates are in short supply. It runs out rather quickly especially without proper supplementation during competition and games. The goal of metabolic testing in this scenario is to help you understand what you need (and how much is too much).

In a nutshell, VO2 Max and Metabolic testing are tools we can utilize to unlock our performance. Like our other performance tests, these tell us what our potential limiters are so we can devise a plan to address them. By understanding our body, we can equip ourselves with the knowledge and understanding to raise the bar and unlock our potential. If you’re located in the Philippines (or wish to visit) and want to book a test or inquire, you can contact us here: