August 6, 2019

Inside the Assessment: VO2 Max

by SHIFT Admin

“Inside the Assessment” is a series we are bringing you which will highlight some of the important elements of the SHIFT Member Assessment Day. This comprehensive assessment is at the core of our member experience and provides members critical qualitative and quantitative health data that they can use as a starting point to building real health.

The VO2 max test is part of the fitness consultation portion of the assessment day. VO2 max stands for Volume of Oxygen and is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during incremental exercise. It is reported as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight and is, in essence, a measure of your body’s ability to consume oxygen.

At SHIFT, we measure VO2 max using either a treadmill or stationary bike. Our members wear a mask and a heart rate monitor. The mask is connected to a device that collects and measures the volume and oxygen concentration inhaled and exhaled. One of our SHIFT coaches begins the test and each minute the exercise intensity increases via speed, incline, or resistance.

At some point just below a maximum effort, the body switches from aerobic to anaerobic processes to generate energy. The exercise intensity is then increased gradually until the member feels that they are at max effort. This is the predicted VO2 max point and is the threshold of your body’s ability to transport and use oxygen during physical activity. The test that we run here at SHIFT is a sub-max test, which means we aren’t reaching true VO2 peak (to the point of passing out). 

All else being equal, a higher VO2 max is a good thing: it means that your body can utilize more oxygen and deliver it to your muscles, enabling you to run, walk or bike faster and harder for a given effort. VO2 max recommended ranges will vary with age due to the cardiac, pulmonary and muscular changes that occur as we grow older.

There is a great deal of data that can be gleaned from VO2 max testing; at SHIFT we review test results with each member to determine individualized findings within the broader context of life, health history and goals.

View a sample report our members can expect to receive on assessment day. To schedule your assessment, email us at


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