|VO2 MAX Test
Gotta love having a Snorkel mask on for 30 minutes
I guess a good place to start is the reason why I have chosen to partake in what some may classify as a sadistic activity. I find it most interesting how bodies can cope with such high stresses, imposed by weather, others or even by oneself. It is my curiosity in this field which has led me to become rather intrigued by the limits of my own body. Yeah sure i can go out and ride a bike till i feel sick, and often there are times when this happens, but there is no real yardstick for comparison as everyone is different in bodyshape and other physical characteristics (i.e. lung capacity, Max HR and of course VO2 Max). This last point has led me to undertake a university study in which they would test my VO2 Max (put simply this is the amount of oxygen that your body can intake, utilise and expire as measured in ml/kg/min).
Although it is a highly genetically determined factor, VO2 Max can be used to compare athletes as it is per kilogram of body weight, thus standardising the results to a comparable level (note: increases of VO2 Max obtainable via training are only 10-30%). One can increase their own Lactic Acid Threshold (LT) by training at intervals and thus prolonging the time required to reach their peak, and i shall discuss this further in my written account of the tests. So as VO2 is a genetic predisposition, with little environmental influence, i went into the test hoping to pass the requirements of greater than or equal to 60 ml/kg/min so that i could continue in the study. So I trained my arse off before the study date to attempt to increase my LT by doing intervals, at 4 mins (95% MHR) and 3 mins rest (70% MHR). Hoping that this would help me out i went in to the test on the 31st of January 2001.
Once at Deakin University I was allowed to modify the stationary bike for my appropirate measurements and psych myself up for the oncoming Hell that is the "Incremental Test". It is named this because of the following format.
00-5 mins @ 50 Watts.
05-10 mins @ 100 Watts.
10-15 mins @ 150 Watts.
15-20 mins @ 200 Watts.
20-21 mins @ 225 Watts.
Then each additional minute the work load to continue is increased by 25 W.
So if you last 28 mins that translated to a power ouput of 400W when you gave up. Thats enough power to work five 51cm NEC televisions simultaneously! So I had spoken to a few poeple and they thought that I would reach around 350 W and die. I thought this would be a great result, mind you they underestimated my determination on the day.
So before the test, the doctor inserted a teflon catheter into my right arm so that the experimenters would be able to obtain blood samples during the Incremental Test. This did not hurt, and I thought it was rather interesting as it was just hanging out of my arm. So then I was fitted with the HR monitor, which is just a little black strap which sits around your chest (a non invasive measure). Then i was set to begin the test. One more thing before I explain the details of the actual test. On the same morning I spoke to a friend and he had done the test, and warned me not to have a visual of my HR whilst i was doing the test. He claimed that this made him stop short as he was worried about his MHR at the time. So keeping that in mind i proceeded with the test and no visual of my HR, as i knew I had only ever reached 203 BPM and thought this may distract me from trying any harder.
Of course the first 10 mins were dead simple, there was almost no resistance to keep me interested, but i knew that this would soon change. Even at 15 mins i was cycling comfortably and was keeping my cadence (pedal revolutions/minute) at around 80. This was surpirsing the lead experimenter as she expected me to pedal at a much higher cadence, but i knew what i was doing. Then when notified of 19 mins had passed, i calculated my assault on the pedalling world. I raised my cadence to a time trial pace, so thus lifting my pedal revolutions to 110/minute. Then i got the "a-ha i see what you are doing now!" from the lead expermienter and mentally braced myself for the hardest minutes of my life. The first few minutes were not too difficult as i believe that i kept it ticking over at a cadence of 110, but when i reached around 300 W (24 minute mark) i think i may have dropped a few revs. Whilst all this was going on i was still having blood taken, but that did not distract me as the snorkel mask i was wearing was filled with saliva by this point and the slurring of my own fluids were enough to keep my mind off any tiny distractions like the vampires in lab coats.
I reckon I knew I had hit 350 W, but was not sure if I had passed it. I just recall that the last three minutes were extremely hard, as i was in and out of the saddle to keep the cadence higher, as it is easier to spin a gear than it is to grind it. Ullrich I do not know how you do it. Maybe drugs, but back to the story at hand. Anyways i was sure that i had lasted longer than 26 minutes, i just knew it. I pushed and pushed until i had no more, and was virtually standing on the pedals. People were yelling and screaming for me to continue and this is what kept me going for the last few minutes alone. The power of others supporting you really is incredible. I just remember them yelling, "five more seconds Mathew! You can do it!" They really helped me along and for this I must thanks all those in the room for helping me achive a Power Output of just on 425 W. The reality is i was just 3 seconds short of 425 W, so this meant that i had lasted 27 minutes and 57 seconds. A lot better than the expected 350 W. I had also peaked at 63.5 ml/kg/min, but an average was taken to be at around 61.5 ml/kg/min. My MHR also peaked out at 205 BPM, and i held it above 200 BPM for the final two minutes. A break down of each minute by minute resut is just below.
00-05 mins @ 050 Watts HR 103 VO2 14.7
05-10 mins @ 100 Watts HR 119 VO2 21.9
10-15 mins @ 150 Watts HR 135 VO2 29.3
15-20 mins @ 200 Watts HR 160 VO2 38.3
20-21 mins @ 225 Watts HR 171 VO2 41.3
21-22 mins @ 250 Watts HR 181 VO2 46.3
22-23 mins @ 275 Watts HR 185 VO2 47.1
23-24 mins @ 300 Watts HR 189 VO2 50.3
24-25 mins @ 325 Watts HR 194 VO2 55.3
25-26 mins @ 350 Watts HR 198 VO2 55.1
26-27 mins @ 375 Watts HR 204 VO2 60.8
27-28 mins @ 400 Watts HR 204 VO2 55.1
28-29 mins @ 425 Watts HR 205 VO2 n/a
Later I also found out that my LT was 78% of my VO2 Max. I was told this was a good result, and not just by the examiner. Also by the individual who thought I'd score 350 W. In lamens terms LT translates to the point where there is a sharp increase in the lactic acid content in my blood plasma, which roughly equates to the point at which my systems change from aerobic to anaerobic. This value was when my HR reached 185 BPM. This makes a hell of a lot of sense to myself as I constantly race at a high HR, which rarely drops below 180 BPM. So there it is, my vital statistics for my cycling performance. You can now view the pics below of the actual event.