top of page

What is maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) and why is it important? | #17 ft. Dr. Robert Jacobs

Updated: Jan 31

Listen on your favorite platform or watch on youtube!

This episode of the Critical Oxygen podcast discusses maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), the maximum amount of oxygen a person can uptake and utilize during exercise. Dr. Robert Jacobs and I provide a definition and historical context of VO2max, explaining its importance in determining aerobic potential. We then discuss the Fick equation and indirect calorimetry as methods to measure VO2max. The reliability and limitations of VO2max testing are explored, along with considerations for testing protocols.  We also discuss training protocols to improve VO2max and highlight the importance of individualized approaches. Overall, the episode provides valuable insights into understanding and optimizing VO2max. 


1) VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen a person can uptake and utilize during exercise, and it is an important indicator of aerobic potential.

2) The Fick equation and indirect calorimetry are used to measure VO2max, with cardiac output and VO2 difference being key factors.

3) VO2max testing has limitations and requires careful consideration of testing protocols and the expertise of the tester.

4) Training protocols to improve VO2max include high-intensity intervals at or near VO2max.

5) Individualized approaches to VO2max testing and training are important for optimal results. 

6) The pulmonary system, including CO2 exchange, can be a limiting factor for VO2max.

7) Exercise-induced arterial hypoxemia can impact VO2max, particularly at high altitudes.

8) Cardiac output and stroke volume play a role in determining VO2max.

9) Skeletal muscle mitochondrial adaptations can also influence VO2max.


Limiting Factors to VO2max -

Don't forget to subscribe to get notified when new episodes are released. 

If you have a question or topic you want us to address, leave a comment!

Follow Phil on Instagram -

Interested in testing, courses, or other long form content check out the critical oxygen website -


00:00 Introduction and Background

01:24 Definition and Historical Context of VO2Max

04:12 Determining VO2Max: Fick Equation and Measurement Techniques

06:09 Indirect Calorimetry and Indirect Measurement of Energy Expenditure

08:08 VO2 Max Testing: Reliability and Limitations

18:07 VO2 Max Testing Protocols and Considerations

36:40 Improving VO2 Max: Training Protocols

45:48 VO2 Max Research and Practical Application

47:15 Introduction to the paper on VO2 max

48:12 Discussion on the pulmonary system

49:45 Consideration of gender differences

50:13 Limitations of male-biased research

51:32 Exercise-induced arterial hypoxemia

55:08 Importance of pulmonary system for CO2

56:22 Respiratory muscle training

57:45 Cardiac output and stroke volume

01:01:29 Importance of hemoglobin and cardiac output

01:05:07 Skeletal muscle mitochondrial adaptations

01:09:05 Importance of measuring VO2 max

01:09:46 Consideration of skeletal muscle as a limiter of VO2 max

11 views0 comments


bottom of page