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I started cycling at age 57 after dropping about 60 pounds. I had a fitness evaluation from my trainer at the health club at the end of 2002 and went on a biking/lifting/spinning/core training program. This week, I re-tested and had mixed results. I dropped to just under 200 from 211 and switched from 23% to 17% body fat. I was a bit disappointed w/ the VO2max test results. I scored a 38 which was almost the same as my earlier test. The difference this time was that I actually rode the bike to failure instead of just a plot of estimated failure the last time. I also found that my max H/R was higher than the 177 mark I've been using for training. A person can survive at 185 and even hold it for a short period...LOL. Short of dropping more weight, how can you increase the VO2max reading? What zones and what time in zones should I concentrate on to improve
 

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scruffy nerf herder
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Mixed results, mixed answers....

yellow....

Im a little bit puzzled as to your desire to specifically improve a somewhat subjective number that is directly influenced by differing physiological conditions (rest, etc). Is there any SPECIFIC reason you are wanting to improve that number in and of itself? I think VO2 max is a number that may remain the same, yet you can still improve on the bike and be faster, or a better climber, or even a better sprinter with relatively the same VO2 max. I don't really think that VO2 max is an accurate measure of how good of a cyclist you are, but more a measure of how good of a cyclist you could be at a given time... you know? It is similar to studing... or memorizing a certain subset of information... like Geometry before taking a test like the SAT. It is a small % of the whole...

However, to answer your question. Getting plenty of base miles in your target aerobic zone (zone 3 for friel), and then getting several workouts with 6-12 minute work sessions building from zone 2 to 5a with 2-3 minutes recovery back down to zone 2 would probably help increase your body's tolerance to such work conditions. But training to improve your numbers calculated by someone at a health club is not likely the most reliable of measurements, but more like an estimate.

Dropping the weight is great. Keep up the good work. Increasing your power to weight ratio is a key aspect of cycling improvement!!!

Chris
 

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Call me a Fred
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http://www.unswrc.com/publish/index.php/article/articleview/42/1/9/

This article has some very interesting analysis on improving Vo2max. While the site is a rowing site, the studies analysed were done on cyclists.

Improving Vo2max numbers may not be what you are after as they say "It’s also interesting to note that an increase in training intensity can improve endurance performance without a change in VO2max. "
 

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Off the back
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That test is terribly unreliable IMHO

If you're giving "How are you feeling now" answers and judging fitness based on that, it's terrible. That's how our health club does it. Increase the resistance, go for a minute and then ask what your percieved exertion is.

Guess what: Your percieved exertion is directly a function of your fitness level. SO the points on the bottom of the curve (early data in the test) are worthless if your exertion is zero. By the time you reach "moderately difficult", you've been going for 45 minutes. When you're completely out of shape, that happens in 6 minutes.

I think that model breaks down with very fit people. The gas mask / O2 exhaled method would work, but who's going to pay for it at the amateur level?
 

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"Improving Vo2max numbers may not be what you are after as they say "It’s also interesting to note that an increase in training intensity can improve endurance performance without a change in VO2max. "[/QUOTE]

This a pretty well established observation. VO2max changes relatively early after taking up endurance exercise or coming back after a lay-off and then doesn't vary much. That's why it's not all that good a predictor of an indviduals current fitness level. It's also not even that good of a predictor across individuals in more than a general sense. I like to think of it as being analogous to height in basketball. Being tall is a factor in basketball ability but that doesn't mean somebody who is 6'8" is always better than someone who is 6'6", but it probably does mean you're not getting into the NBA if you're not above 6'0" (with rare exceptions).

The gold standard in fitness determination is some kind of measure of lactate threshold during a ramped power test. It's labile with changes in fitness and generally predicts ability across individuals.
 

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Power Napper
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It depends on the test and the tester.

If that's the test your club uses, the director obviously has his/her head...well, in a dark place let's say. There are plenty of standardized, well documeted protocols with large data bases for comparison that allow a trained tester to perform a sub-maximal test to estimate VO2 max. Now this is not going to be as accurate as a full on max test done under the watchful eye of a MD in an exercise phys lab, but then how many average citizens have access to that kind of testing? The YMCA standard cycle ergometer test gives a good first approximation of VO2 max for the general population. It is relatively easy to learn to do well, and easy to perform.

VO2 max can be improved with training by maybe 10-20% depending on a person's starting fitness level. But like previously stated, it has a large genetic component and is more a measure of potential ability than a predictor of performance.

In recent years Chris Carmichael and others have pretty much established that lactate (or anaerobic) threshold is a much better measure of cycling fitness and predictor of performance. And the good news is that this number responds very well to regular training, of the correct sort. Most cycling training books now have lengthy discussions on LT measurement and LT training.
 

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Deliciously Ironic
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You can't change your Max - your Max is your Max, and is determined by genetics. You CAN, however, increase the time spent within a percentage of your max thru exercise. You have already shown this - your first test you could only hold your exertion for x amount of time, but over time, after conditioning, you could developed longer duration at higher intensities.

There are other measurements to consider in fitness, namely power output. You have trained your system to exert at high levels and become more efficient (ie lower heart rate with same duration) but have you looked at power to rate ratio or wattage?
 
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