What is Lance Armstrong doing that you can do to improve your results?
Most people exercise to lose weight, focusing solely on that one single goal. But wait, it is not only about looking aesthetically pleasing, getting in those tight jeans, or losing ten pounds. It is really about improving your health, and human performance.
Each day when you are huffing and puffing on the treadmill, focusing vigorously on keeping yourself lean, have you ever thought about what physically is occurring in your body besides burning a bunch of calories?
For improved results, more people need to stop focusing solely on calorie burn, and start thinking about improving such fitness values as VO2 Max, or maximum oxygen uptake.
What exactly is your VO2 Max? VO2 Max is defined as the highest rate at which oxygen can be taken in and used during high intensity dynamic exercise. When you are exercising aerobically on your treadmill, each and every muscle contraction requires oxygen to break down the fats, carbohydrates, and protein; thus, providing energy (ATP) needed to fuel the muscles in order for movement to occur.
Humans, at rest, need 3.5 ml of oxygen, every minute, for each kilogram of body weight just to support the cellular activities in the tissues that keep us alive.
Now let's get back to our treadmill. As you increase the speed or incline (intensity), more oxygen is required to transfer the oxygen through the blood and into the muscles. Due to increased intensity during your exercise session, more oxygen is required to initiate the energy releasing process.
Now let's take the treadmill up to a speed and incline where you can no longer catch your breath comfortably. The intensity has increase significantly, but you have reached an upper limit on the amount of oxygen you can take in. This is your VO2 Max.
VO2 Max values differ from individual to individual. Factors such as age, health, activity levels, training programs, and genetics all affect VO2 Max. A sedentary person has a VO2 Max of around 20 ml of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute of exercise. A highly trained endurance athlete can have a VO2 Max of 70 ml/kg/min.
Now why does Lance Armstrong win all those bike races? Yes, he has a great training program, a great coach, and great equipment. However, his genetics for an endurance athlete are nothing short of astounding. Do you know his VO2 Max measures around 83-85 ml/kg/min, while an average person's is around 40? For Lance, his success is attributed to a combination of great training, will, desire, and unbelievable genetic makeup.
A Super Human Lance:
1. Lungs - 2 times the capacity of the average person
2. Muscle - Accumulates less lactic acid and is more efficient at
3. Heart - Is about 1/3 larger with a resting heart rate of 32 beats per
minute, and peaks around 200 beats per minute.
4. Body Fat - 4-5 percent before the Tour starts, while an average
person has 15-20 percent.
5. Food Consumption - Needs 6500 calories per day, and upwards of
10,000 per day when biking in the mountains during his 120 mile race.
How do you improve VO2 Max? Improvement is seen by progressively challenging yourself aerobically with consistent workouts at 60% to 85% of your maximum heart rate (220-age) for an extended period of time. The most important variable is to continue attempting to increase intensity levels of your workouts. Progressively overloading is the key; your body will adapt, and improve your VO2 Max as well as burn more calories for decreased body fat.
Now you ask, how can I measure my VO2 Max?
For the most accurate measurement, you can go into a hospital, or a University Human Performance Lab and get the test. You will generally use a treadmill or a stationary bike, and be given an oxygen mask to measure your oxygen exchange. You will also be connected with chest electrodes to measure your heart response. The main objective is to walk, bike, or run as the intensity is progressively elevated until it is not possible to go any longer. (You should be cleared or monitored by your physician before attempting a VO2 Max test.)
The easier. but not as accurate way, is to do an estimated sub maximal aerobic capacity test.
The following is one of the many tests that can be used.
Find a 400 meter track, bring a stopwatch, and walk/run as fast as you can go for 12 minutes. Keep track of the number of meters you have gone in 12 minutes, and use the following formula.
Distance Covered in Meters - 504.9 / 44.730 = Estimated VO2 Max
Here is a rough guide:
4-5 laps covered, your VO2 Max will be around 30.
5-7 laps covered, your VO2 Max will be around 45.
7-8 laps covered (2800 meters), your VO2 Max will be around 62.
8-8.5 laps covered (3200 meters), your VO2 Max will be around 67
9 laps covered (3600 meters), your VO2 Max will be around 70.
Learn to keep a close eye on your fitness values and try to continually improve them. Improvement will lead to great health benefits, and may result in your goal of decreased body fat (depending upon your nutritional habits.)
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Jim O'Connor, a celebrity Exercise Physiologist from Beverly Hills, California, is the editor of Wellness WORD Multimedia Newsletter, and the author of a popular ebook called Home Gym Shopping Secrets. Jim's Passion is educating the public with proper scientific researched health and fitness information.
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