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Thread: VO2 Max testing

  1. #1
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    VO2 Max testing

    My wife gave me a gift certificate for a VO2 Max test for Christmas. I'm trying to figure out when to get tested -- soon? Or wait until the weather allows regular riding?

    A little history -- I raced for the first time in 2006 (just 2 races), then did 5 races in 2007. It was a lot of fun, so I plan to train hard and see how well I can do in 2008.

    I recently started reading training books and am learning the lingo and training theories. I'm pretty much a newbie to VO2 and lactate threshold and intervals and tempo and all this stuff.

    I'm in Colorado. There's a lot of snow on the ground and I haven't been riding consistently since before Thanksgiving. I'm sure my fitness has deteriorated significantly since the summer/fall when I was riding all the time.

    There are a couple of races I plan to do in April/May, but my target race series starts the first week of June.

    Should I take the VO2 Max test soon? Or should I wait until I'm on the bike more regularly and have regained some fitness? What will a VO2 Max test tell me? Will it help me determine how hard to train? I don't plan to cough up the $$ for additional testing, so this is probably a one-time thing. I'd like to maximize its usefulness.

    BTW, I have a Garmin 305 that I used for training this past summer. I recently purchased an iBike and plan to train with power on the road, then use the Garmin for mountain biking and train based on HR. I bought the "Training and Racing with a Power Meter" book by Allen and Coggan; I'm about half way through. Very interesting stuff. Hard to wait to put it into practice, but the weather has been very anti-biking for several weeks now. I tried to do a mtb ride today, but ended up walking at least half because the snow wasn't very packed and was lousy traction. The roads have snow/ice/gravel, so a road ride isn't going to happen for at least a week.

    Guidance and advice appreciated!

  2. #2
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    A search in this forum should yield some excellent threads pertaining to vo2 max.

    In a nutshell, the VO2 max is your bodies maximum capacity to uptake Oxygen. The units are milliters of O2 per minute per kilogram.

    The higher your VO2 max the better, although it is not a measure of absolute fitness, but rather the potential to be fit. Actual fitness ability is based on the position of a persons lactate threshold relative to the VO2max.

    ie. a person with a VO2max of 60 and a lactate threshold at a VO2 of 55, will have better cardio ability than someone with a VO2max of 70 and a lactate threshold at a VO2 of 50.

    Id suggest getting tested at the beginning of your training season, and then once again at the peak, or after the target period of your training season. The actual VO2 max number itself isnt super important for the average home trained cyclist, but the numbers that can be derived from it through calculation and interpolation with other numbers may be of relevance.

    But again.. lactate threshold is the important thing. At least for the endurance based cyclist.

  3. #3
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    I'm kind of new at using mtbr (member for a while, but haven't really used it that much in the past), so maybe I'm missing something. I did a search for "VO2" and got nothing. Tried it both caps and no caps. Zero results.

    So what would I do with the VO2 Max results? Would it help me set target HR per training zone? Or?

    I'm kind of thinking that a once or twice (at most) test may be a waste of money. Sweet thought by my sweetie, but I don't know what to do with the results from the test. Or when to take it.

  4. #4
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    my understanding, although somewhat limited, is that VO2 max is a measure of your POTENTIAL for performance. it doesn't vary much with training, so it doesn't matter when you take it. take it now, and enjoy the bragging rights (or not) when your numbers are as good as the top pros (or not).

    lactate threshold (LT) is a better measure of ACTUAL performance, and varies a lot with training. this test may or may not be part of your VO2 max test. this test would help you set training zones more accurately, which might help you to train more efficiently. it would also help you to see where you stack up against your competitors (assuming you know their LT's). I chose to do a DIY version of the test (Friel's 20 min. time trial on road) as I felt like the numbers I got were close enough for my purposes. my actual LT might be a few bpm higher or lower, but it's not really going to matter in my training.

    if LT is part of the test your wife got you, then I'd suggest doing it right before you start your training program so you can train with accurate zones, but that's just mho.

    your wife rules, btw, for supporting your racing. go give her a hug.

  5. #5
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    The place I'm having it having it done at sponsors a bike racing team -- jerseys with their name/logo, very into sports therapy, seem very knowledgeable about training based on 2nd hand info from my wife. I'm planning to talk with the trainer who will run the test. My wife says she thinks Eric is one of the co-owners.

    My objective on this forum is to get some objective advice. I'm sure he is reputable, but will be inclined to say "do a test now, again in March, again in May" or something. I might be willing to spend the $$ to do a 2nd test, but it's not going to be a regular thing for me. I'm planning to race Sport in mtb and Cat 5 in road races. I'm not trying to make a living at bike racing, just trying to do my best.

    What questions should I ask the trainer who will administer the test? Would it make sense to do the test at the end of February so I have March/April/May to train with for the start of the June race series?

  6. #6
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    Twice a Year

    In a perfect world, your test results would include maximum HR (MaxHR), lactate threshold heart rate (LTHR) and your VO2 Max numbers. As kngpengwin and superlightracer said, VO2 Max is a measure of your potential. I don't believe you can train it up or down much. LTHR, on the other hand, is a great measure of where you are fitness wise. Many plans (Friel, Morris, Carmichael) base their training zones off that number rather than Max HR.

    You should have some fitness built up / maintained when you do the test. You don't want to do it the day you return after a 3 month layoff. You also don't want to do it the week you're recovering from the hardest race of your season, or while recovering from illness or after a dramatic life event (birth of baby, death in family, job loss, move, etc.). If you can do it twice in a year, I believe that's good enough for most folks purposes. That shows you a starting point, and hopefully how far you've come. That's my plan this year, and I'm in the same boat as you: racing for fun, have wife / kids / family, job, not earing a living at this.

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