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Eddie Barkla | Bendigo Weekly | 23-Mar-2012

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TESTING TIMES: Cyclists were able to understand their capacity.
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Cyclists generally have a desire to measure performance and development to prepare for an event or just to ensure they are sustaining fitness levels.
Recently the cycling community was offered a unique opportunity to undertake some different testing through the La Trobe University Exercise Physiology Laboratory with VO2 max testing in lab controlled conditions.
VO2 max is the maximum capacity of an individual’s body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual.
The name is derived from V – volume, O2 – oxygen, max - maximum.
The response within the cycling community came from a wide group of athletes to the recreational rider seeking to better understand their personal capacity and fitness levels, and participants were selected from age groups of 20 - 35, 35 - 50, + 50.
VO2 max is expressed either as an absolute rate in litres of oxygen per minute (l/min) or as a relative rate in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of bodyweight per minute (ml/kg/min).
The latter expression is often used to compare the performance of endurance athletes.
VO2 max should not be confused with the lactate threshold (LT) or anaerobic threshold (AT), which refers to the point during exhaustive, all-out exercise at which lactate builds up in the muscles.
With proper training, athletes are often able to substantially increase their AT, and exercise longer at a higher intensity.
The average young untrained male will have a VO2 max of about 3.5litres/minute and 45ml/kg/min.
The average young untrained female will score a VO2 max of about 2.0litres/minute and 38ml/kg/min.
These scores can improve with training and decrease with age, though the degree of trainability also varies very widely: conditioning may double VO2 max in some individuals, and have little effect in others.
The highest recorded VO2 max for Lance Armstrong is 84ml/kg/min and Cadel Evans 88ml/kg/min.
The factors affecting VO2 are often divided into supply and demand.
Supply is the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the mitochondria (including lung diffusion, stroke volume, blood volume, and capillary density of the skeletal muscle) while demand is the rate at which the mitochondria can reduce oxygen in the process of oxidative phosphorylation.
Of these, the supply factor is often considered to be the limiting one. However, it has also been argued that while trained subjects probably are supply limited, untrained subjects can indeed have a demand limitation.
The physical limitations that restrict the rate at which energy can be released aerobically are dependent upon the chemical ability of the muscular cellular tissue system to use oxygen in breaking down fuels and the combined ability of cardiovascular and pulmonary systems to transport the oxygen to the muscular tissue system.
Looking forward to seeing you on the road soon, God willing.

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