We hear and skim rather a lot about VO2 Max in biking. It is a time period that is been a characteristic in frequent biking parlance for many years. Whether or not that is in relation to biking health and variations in our our bodies on account of coaching load. Or when listening to about a number of the superhuman physiology skilled cyclists and athletes usually possess. Discuss of an off-the-charts VO2 Max quantity has usually featured when discussing the game’s high riders.
However what really is VO2 Max? If somebody requested me to put in writing a brief snappy sentence or two explaining VO2 Max and what it’s, I am undecided I might do it. It is not one thing I actively attempt to enhance throughout coaching and I’ve by no means had my very own VO2 Max measured. I believe most cyclists, at the least other than these being examined in sports activities labs or by certified coaches usually, may have a lot of an concept of what their VO2 Max is or the way it impacts their driving.
A variety of aggressive riders may have entry to an influence meter, be that in its standard kind or by way of a good indoor coach. Of these riders, most will journey to energy and focus most of their structured classes across the energy numbers displayed on their bike computer systems. However what number of of them take note of VO2 Max and what it means for his or her driving?
As a substitute of attempting to provide you with solutions myself, I made a decision to talk to a certified biking coach about VO2 Max, what it really is, and the way it impacts our biking.
I spoke to the proprietor of Customized Cycle Teaching, Dr Tom Kirk who has a PhD in sports activities physiology and Vitamin. Kirk was completely happy to offer me some solutions and share a few of his professional data. Straight off the bat, I wished to get a solution from the horse’s mouth on how VO2 Max will be outlined.
“VO2 Max is the utmost quantity of oxygen the physique can eat throughout maximal train and is measured in litres per minute (L/Min) or, is extra generally expressed relative to physique mass as ml/kg/min,” he stated.
I now had my snappy, brief sentence. VO2 Max is the utmost quantity of oxygen the physique can eat throughout maximal train. Kirk additionally expanded on a number of the elements that decide VO2 Max and why it could fluctuate from athlete to athlete and in numerous sports activities that use extra or certainly completely different muscular tissues than biking.
“One of many fundamental elements that influences VO2 Max is the quantity of muscle utilizing oxygen. This is why bigger athletes (of the identical ‘health’), males in comparison with ladies or sports activities that use extra muscle mass usually report the next VO2 Max. When recorded relative to physique mass, a sport reminiscent of cross-country snowboarding, which makes use of each the higher and decrease physique, will report increased numbers than measured on the bike, the place the legs are the principle muscular tissues used.”
I feel it is honest to say VO2 Max testing is presumably exterior of the realms of what is attainable for normal cyclists and opponents until we ebook a while in a neighborhood sports activities lab or college sports activities centre, given specialist gear is required to measure the amount of oxygen being inhaled and exhaled.
Because the quantity of oxygen we are able to bodily course of lies on the coronary heart of our athletic capacity and efficiency capabilities, I puzzled if riders ought to attempt to prepare their VO2 Max particularly.
“Whereas VO2 Max is a vital indicator of efficiency or potential efficiency, lactate threshold is a greater indicator of biking efficiency,” Kirk defined.
“This determines the proportion of an athlete’s VO2 Max they’ll maintain for a protracted interval. Whether or not an athlete ought to focus their coaching on creating their VO2 max or different facets of their efficiency is determined by their particular person strengths and weaknesses, and the way vital these are for his or her aim occasion.”
VO2 Max is clearly not the only real or absolute efficiency indicator for cyclists. The power to course of and utilise a considerable amount of oxygen per minute is one factor, but when our lactate threshold doesn’t allow us to capitalise on this benefit, an athlete with a decrease VO2 Max however higher lactate threshold might measure up simply as nicely. That is earlier than we consider aerodynamics, willingness to push ourselves, and physique weight too.
I additionally wished to seek out out about potential coaching classes or work that may very well be accomplished to enhance a VO2 Max rating and in consequence, the quantity of oxygen we are able to course of per minute, thus boosting our personal efficiency. In fact, with out common entry to specialist gear, I anticipated this is able to be troublesome, however Kirk says there is a metric that can be utilized to assist inform your consequence at residence.
“So as to prepare your VO2 Max precisely, you first must measure this (or extra realistically the ability output equivalent to VO2 Max) in a lab. Nevertheless, your finest energy over a five-minute effort is an effective ballpark determine,” Kirk stated.
This is sensible and will nicely be the explanation a number of coaches and coaching plans look to see what a rider’s most five-minute energy is to tell coaching classes and training plans.
“By definition, coaching at this energy output is exhausting so a great coaching session would goal to spend so much of time at or round that VO2 Max depth both in shorter bursts with restricted recoveries or by utilizing longer intervals at 90-95% of VO2 Max.”
Subsequently, classes at or round our greatest five-minute energy efficiency mark will get us within the common ballpark for working at VO2 Max and bettering it over time. It is in all probability honest to say that is the kind of work loads of cyclists are doing already, and widespread indoor biking apps usually can provide and supply coaching plans that includes these sorts of efforts.
Lastly, out of sheer curiosity, I additionally wished to know what was the best VO2 Max Kirk has seen throughout his profession. He did not cite a grand tour-winning, freakishly excessive quantity however defined that VO2 Max tends to be relative to the scale of the athlete, in addition to weight.
“Bigger athletes are likely to have the next absolute VO2 Max, the best I’ve seen was once I was testing elite, heavyweight rowers at round 6.5 L/min. Nevertheless, as these are massive athletes, this is able to ‘solely’ equate to round 65ml/kg/min. When expressed relative to physique weight I’ve measured cyclists at at the least 78 ml/kg/min.” he stated.
This exhibits that cyclists nonetheless in all probability rank fairly nicely on the VO2 Max scoring tables total given the widely excessive ranges of health and cardiovascular capacity in addition to the comparatively low total physique weights elite cyclists usually have.
For reference, the best reported VO2 Max recorded was Norwegian bike owner, Oskar Svendsen with a rating of 97.5 (Prime Finish Sports activities).
I now have a greater understanding of VO2 Max and the way it suits into total biking efficiency and our physiologies. Day after day I do not assume I will lose a lot sleep over not realizing my very own VO2 Max worth, but it surely’s each helpful and attention-grabbing to know the form of effort we have to make to journey at or round our VO2 Max degree.