Wednesday, July 30, 2008

VO2 MAX:Know What You're Paying For

SImon Bartlett at Quest Sports Science is My Guest Post:
Considerations for Athletes Prior to Physiological/Metabolic Testing

With the advent of inexpensive, easy-to-use metabolic assessment systems on the market today, the availability of metabolic testing (VO2 max) has grown considerably. Today’s athletes have an array of testing services available to them because of these less costly systems. However, questions remain:

1. How reliable are these cheaper devices for accurately assessing and measuring changes in the cardiorespiratory performance of an athlete?
2. What legitimate scientific research is available demonstrating the accuracy, validity and reliability of such systems?
3. Can the user interpret the data correctly?

Quest Sports Science Center uses one of the most trusted systems on the market today- the ParvoMedics TrueOne metabolic cart. The TrueOne cart is currently used worldwide by many universities in addition to NASA, the NIH and US Olympic Training Centers—a true testament to the system’s reputation! Operation of the TrueOne cart requires extensive knowledge, experience and training to calibrate, maintain and assess outcomes.

Recent scientific studies compared the TrueOne Metabolic Cart with two other popular systems: the CardioCoach (KORR Medical Technologies) 1 and the New Leaf (MedGraphicsVO2000)2. The studies unequivocally concluded that the TrueOne metabolic cart proved to be the most accurate and reliable system for measuring cardiorespiratory fitness. Conversely, the CardioCoach and New Leaf metabolic carts were significantly less reliable demonstrating an overestimation in VO2 capacity at most work rates and the CardioCoach’s inability to measure changes in VO2 resulting from 14 weeks of physical training. Implications for the athlete? Caveat Emptor---Buyer Beware! Results from unreliable systems can produce erroneous data that could be used to establish incorrect training volumes and intensities.

In conclusion, Quest Sports Science Center recommends that an accurate, unbiased measurement of VO2 max by qualified* fitness professionals (exercise physiologists, trainers and qualified coaches) is utilized for a valid and reliable assessment of cardiorespiratory fitness. The data extrapolated can then be effectively applied to the development and implementation of an appropriate exercise program to help the athlete reach their goals.

* American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Certified Exercise Specialist and/or National Strength and Conditioning (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
* Registered Dietitian (RD) and licensed in the state (LD/LDN).

1. Monitoring VO2 Max During Fourteen Weeks of Endurance Training Using the CardioCoach: Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2007, 21(1), 62-66

2. Accuracy and Reliability of the ParvoMedics 2400 and MedGraphics VO2000 Metabolic Systems: Eur J Appl Physiol, 2006 Aug 3; 16896734 (P,S,E,B)

Quest Sports Science Center, Annapolis, MD, 410-626-1566,


coachbrett said...

Hi there, I too am very leery of the "black magic boxes" out there. I have been trying to find a peer reviewed article comparing the New Leaf cart to a valid metabolic cart. Do you have any references you can send me, ie the one you referenced examining the New Leaf?

Kind regards,

Brett Petersen

Paul said...

I conduct cardiopulmonary stress testing in clinical settings and also have a background in university based research utilizing cardiopulmonary testing. I also questioned the reliablity of the "black box" units like CardioCoach. With my current systems (Jaeger Oxycon Pro & Oxycon Mobile) I manually determine the AT and VO2 max as well as other outcome data from the hard data even though the system offers an automatic determination of this data. The CardioCoach simply spits out the results. I seriously doubt and question the reliablity of the system determining the AT/lacate threshold.
Here is the kicker...these black box systems are affordable in comparision to the research level units. Most people don't understand the variables involved in metabolic testing. So the machine just spits out the end data. Questionable at best but probably sellable to the public. Similar to the electral impediance determination for body fat compared to underwater weighing or Dexa scan.


DrSalv said...

Hi. I am getting a Viasys Healthcare unit, a Sensormedics Spectra 229. Do you have good references about this system?
Another question: do you think that the best VOmax interval for monitoring an athlete is 14 weeks, or is it usefull to take a shorter interval between measures? Thanks!