Fitness Assessment

Coached Clients of SSP are offered:

VO2/VCO2 Fitness Assessment

Introduction to VO2/VCO2 Fitness Assessment

Components of Fitness

The three major components of fitness are cardio respiratory fitness, muscular strength and endurance, and flexibility. All three are important for health promotion, cardiovascular disease risk reduction and athletic performance. Of the three components, cardio respiration fitness is the best indicator of how well the heart, lungs, circulation and muscles are functioning. Cardio respiratory fitness determines the capacity to perform routine activities of daily living, leisure activities, participate in recreational sports or achieve peak athletic performance.

Cardio Respiratory Fitness & the Role of Oxygen

Cardio respiratory fitness refers to the ability to perform aerobically (means using oxygen for energy) at a moderate- to high-intensity for prolonged periods of time. As the intensity of your exercise increases you will reach the capacity of your aerobic system and you shift progressively to your anaerobic system. Just like an automobile engine, your body needs oxygen to mix with fuel to produce energy. Your lungs (carburetor) and heart (fuel pump) deliver oxygen to the individual muscle cells and combine with fuels (fat, carbohydrates) for the production of energy. One of the by-products (exhaust) of this energy creation is carbon dioxide. You breathe in oxygen and you breathe out carbon dioxide.

Your aerobic system uses a mixture of fats and carbohydrates as fuel along with a moderate amount of oxygen. In order for fat to be used as a fuel, oxygen must be present. Your anaerobic system primarily uses carbohydrates, in the form of blood sugar (glucose) or stored glycogen, as a fuel source. Only carbohydrates have the capability to be used without oxygen, or anaerobically. Anaerobic metabolism produces an increased amount of carbon dioxide exhaled.

Thus, from easy to somewhat hard efforts of exercise, you are performing aerobically. As the intensity shifts to hard effort, you start the switch from your aerobic system to your anaerobic system. It is the hardest effort you can maintain with the least amount of anaerobic stimulation. This point is referred to as your Aerobic Max or Lactate Threshold. Due to the increased demand for oxygen at this effort, you will breathe harder and more rapidly. If you continue to push past this point, lactic acid accumulates in the muscle and your body attempts to rid itself of this condition by buffering it with bicarbonate in the blood. This buffering process produces additional carbon dioxide in the blood which causes you to breathe even harder. This shift to anaerobic metabolism is typically referred to as your Anaerobic Threshold.

Fitness VO2/VCO2 Assessments

Fitness Assessments offered by Specialists in Sports Performance will provide a precise prescription to achieve the next level of health, fitness and peak performance. Assessments are far better than estimates because successful programs are based on your unique response to exercise. VO2 testing directly measures oxygen uptake, providing a way to distinguish between an improvement in mechanical efficiency and an actual physiological training effect. A value, called oxygen pulse (O2 pulse), is computed. Oxygen pulse is the amount of oxygen the body uses for energy production per heartbeat. Power output/watts can be correlated into this formula also. An increase in oxygen pulse for a given work load means the muscles can use more oxygen for energy production per heartbeat. An increase in oxygen pulse is absolute proof of an improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness. If VO2 remains the same and heart rate decreases, then oxygen pulse has increased and a physiological training effect has occurred. If VO2 decreases and the heart rate decreases to a greater degree, then oxygen pulse has increased. Like the above example, the decrease in heart rate is due to a physiological improvement in the cardiorespiratory system. If VO2 decreases and heart rate decreases to the same degree, then oxygen pulse has remained the same. The decrease in heart rate is due to improvements in mechanical efficiency rather than to any physiological improvement in the cardiorespiratory system.

A VO2/VCO2 test requires you to exercise under conditions that push the heart’s ability to deliver blood analyzing the volume of oxygen consumed (VO2) and the volume of carbon dioxide produced (VCO2) in a controlled environment. The assessment also measures your heart rate, power and speed, with a gradual increase in intensity until you reach a point sufficient to collect the desired exercise “metabolic profile”. The data collected will determine the exact training program for you. Target heart rates and/or power zones are scientifically determined and can then be incorporated into a peak performance, fitness or weight loss training program.

Types of VO2/VCO2 Fitness Tests

PEAK Graded Fitness Tests

The most accurate way to measure VO2 peak is to measure the amount of oxygen consumed during each minute of exercise while conducting a graded fitness test on a treadmill, bike or other piece of cardio exercise equipment. “Graded” means that the test starts at a low intensity and the workload is gradually increased by adjusting the resistance or workload. The test is considered a “peak” test because it goes until your VO2 peaks. Throughout the test, which typically lasts 7 to 15 minutes, you will wear a comfortable, lightweight breathing mask. VO2 peak is determined directly by measuring the peak amount of oxygen that is used for energy during the fitness test. Computer analysis determines how much oxygen your body is using, by analyzing the composition of every breath.

VO2 peak is one of the best predictors of a person’s ability to excel in aerobic or endurance sports, suggesting a superior cardio respiratory system. Although it is not the only predictor of performance, world-class athletes have a high VO2 peak.

Sub Maximal Fitness Test

Although peak tests are safe when conducted by appropriately trained professionals, they do require a peak effort. A sub maximal fitness test stops at anaerobic threshold, avoiding the peak effort zone. This test is more applicable for those about to begin programs or attempting to determine information concerning health status.

The test is performed in the same manner as the Peak test. However, the test begins with a relatively low workload. The workload increases for each stage of the test. The test continues until the person reaches anaerobic threshold (appx 85% of peak), or feels the exercise is too hard. Since the oxygen uptake at each workload is directly measured, it is possible to estimate the VO2 peak the person would have achieved if the test had been a peak test.

Results of VO2/VCO2 Fitness Tests

Your Fitness Assessment Report provides the following measurements:

Oxygen Uptake (VO2)

your value in ml/kg/min as measured directly during the test. VO2 is the best measurement of aerobic fitness and considered by physiologists to be an ultimate indicator of cardiovascular fitness. This data tells your potential for endurance and will provide a true assessment of fitness levels. With a smart training program, you will increase VO2, thus increasing fat utilization and performance.


your value of carbon dioxide production, measured in mL/min.


the ratio of the volume of CO2 expired to the volume of O2 consumed, in a given period of time. This will determine the fuel source metabolized, as fat consumes more O2 in ratio to CO2.

VE or Ventilation

the function of the inhalation and exhalation. This represents the amount of air you breathe in/out per minute.

Fat% – Carbohydrate %

is plotted, representing the fuel source utilized.

Fat Max

the intensity at which an individual burns the most fat. Using fat for fuel, more oxygen is required to release a given amount of energy than when carbohydrate is the main fuel. When plenty of oxygen is available to the muscle, fat is the preferred fuel.

Aerobic Max

the highest intensity level maintained with the least amount of anaerobic stimulation. This term is also similar to Lactate Threshold.

Anaerobic Threshold

represents a shift from oxidative to anaerobic energy metabolism and is known as the red-line to fat burning and endurance. At this point, your body can no longer provide adequate oxygen to the muscles, so it switches from burning fat stores to using the quick energy source your muscles have stored. Knowing one’s threshold allows one to achieve a very high level of cardiovascular conditioning without the discomfort and muscle damage of lactic acid buildup. The closer your threshold is to your VO2 max, the better your level of fitness.

Watts / Power Output

For those using a power meter, testing on an electronic trainer or CycleOps Indoor Cycle, wattage is constantly monitored, giving you a direct power correlation to all results. This will assist in creating power training zones.

Average VO2 Max

the average value for someone your age/gender. Use this information to compare your VO2 values to others.

Training Zones

will focus on your personal weaknesses. By training these weaknesses, you will in turn make them your strengths. The result is a new level of performance, health and well being.

Heart rate

constantly monitored, giving you a heart rate response correlation to all results. This will assist in creating heart rate training zones. Heart rate charts and programmed heart rate monitor formulas are merely averages of people that are the same age and weight. Studies show that these can be wrong by as much as 40%! The only way to know your true target heart rate is to measure O2 & CO2. This is precisely the information testing gives you!

Caloric burn rate

the relationship between effort, heart rate and calorie expenditure, giving you information about how your body performs at every range of exercise.

Fat caloric burn rate

the relationship between effort, heart rate and fat calorie expenditure, giving you information about the fuel your body uses at every range of exercise.

Speed / Grade

plotted to determine pacing and strength. This data can be directly correlated to VO2, Heart Rate and Power readings.

Point in time

logged to provide an accurate interval for all results.


Taking the Fitness Assessment

The data reports from the test will be discussed with you in detail. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions. This will ensure that you understand the information.

  • Wear moisture wicking, comfortable, sport specific clothing.
  • A heart rate monitor will be worn (provided)
  • A comfortable breathing mask will be placed over your mouth and nose.
  • You will warm-up and then perform a graded test. After the test, you will receive immediate reports and results.
  • You may be tested on your bike. Bring your bike, gear & water bottle. Please clean your bike. Mountain bikes must change out rear tire to a slick.
  • You may be tested on a stationary bike. Bring your gear & water bottle. The bike has standard toe cages.
  • You may be tested on a Treadmill. Bring your running gear and water bottle. Treadmill test REQUIRES running for fit individuals. Non-runners may do a walk test.
  • You may be tested on available fitness equipment. Ask for details. I will come to your site, as well.
  • You will be required to fill out a Health History & Consent form. Tester reserves the right to cancel tests for individuals with health issues.