The TrainingFX and CrossFit Vancouver VO2 Max Challenge

Posted on August 13, 2015 by Origin Athletics

"It's not how you start the race, but how you finish..."

VO2 max is a person's maximal capacity to extract oxygen from the air and transport it to their muscles, which is ultimately a reflection of their physicial fitness.  A VO2 max test is a maximum intensity physical test that requires using as many parts of the body as possible, especially the largest muscle groups. For the VO2 Max Challenge, a rowing machine will be used. The test starts with a low intensity warm-up, which builds incrementally for 8 minutes. The point is to burn out your anaerobic system, placing maximal demands on your respiratory system.

Being aware of your VO2 max will help you as a CrossFitter and an overall athlete. The main thing training your VO2 max will teach you is how to pace yourself for maximum results. CrossFitters, for example, often go out "balls to the wall" and end up "flying and dying" because they have no idea how to pace themselves. No professional sports, including CrossFit, go on instincts; there should always be a methodology. Athletes need to learn how to train in the right zone, which means hitting their VO2 max but not exceeding it. When VO2 max is exceeded, the workout becomes totally anaerobic and therefore no longer helpful. By training to their VO2 max, athletes might be uncomfortable but won't go right to failure, which will allow them to crush the end of their workout because they'll have more in the tank. Ultimately, as your VO2 max gets better, you'll be able to maintain a higher intensity for longer and you'll recover quicker.

VO2 Max test in progressDoes having a high VO2 max guarantee you are going to be an awesome CrossFit athlete? No, obviously there are a lot of additional skills required to round out an athlete. Will training your VO2 max make you a better CrossFit athlete? Hell yes!

Think of your heart like a fuel pump feeding an engine. Your heart is not driving your intensity level. It is responding to the demands the rest of your body places on it. Your heart does not care what type of activity you are doing, like CrossFit, rowing, cycling, or sex! Yes, training your VO2 max will make you a better lover! If your muscles place an order for oxygen, your heart responds to deliver.

So what does monitoring your heart rate have to do with CrossFit and why is knowing your VO2 max heart rate such a powerful tool? The intensity required to actually exceed your VO2 max heart rate is very high and short lived as a result. In CrossFit terms, think 20 wall balls at the maximum weight you can finish without stopping.  Or for "Fight Gone Bad", look at your performance on your first set of FGB versus your third set. Yet, if you can hold your intensity level just below your VO2 max threshold, you can greatly extend your training interval without needing a rest, shorten the time you need recover before you start your next interval, and increase the number of intervals can perform before complete failure.

What's great about VO2 max training is that it is quantifiable. You can test to determine how to train in the zone and then go out and nail that zone knowing you are getting your money's worth every time. The moment our muscles are depleted of stored energy and need more we become aerobic athletes. Every time you start panting for breath you are performing an aerobic exercise! What do you think all that breathing is doing? The better your body is at delivering that precious oxygen to your muscles to create the power that moves you, the better an athlete you become!

The VO2 Max Challenge


As a participant in the VO2 Max Challenge, you'll be tested twice. After your first test, which Anthony will coach you through, you will receive your VO2 max index (essentially a number that will let you know where you are on the scale compared to everyone else).  Participants will then be given a program to help improve their VO2 max and will be re-tested in 60 days.  The participant with the biggest improvement wins a prize (sponsored by TrainingFX).

The cost to participate is $95.00, which includes the two tests and the improvement program.

Although entrance to the Challenge is closed for this round, an announcement about the next Challenge will be on this blog.  If you would like to pre-register your interest in the next Challenge, send an email to challenge@trainingfx.com.

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