Orban, W. A., & Kozak, J. F. (1997). Reconsidering VO2max and age: Integrated quantification of exertion variables. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 29(5), Supplement abstract 10.

Research has consistently shown that relative VO2max (maximal aerobic power) declines from the onset of adolescence. However, the use of mean VO2max and mean age may be misleading. The relationship is reported assuming that duration and distance in the testing protocol are unimportant. The highest mean speed for a protocol is used to determine VO2max at the point of perceived exhaustion.

Males (N = 84) were studied for 10 years from the age of 7 through 16. It was found that relating VO2max to the specific variables of duration and distance a well as speed affects the relationship between VO2max and age. A different understanding between age and VO2max resulted.

1. VO2max, relative to performance, accelerates, rather than declines, through adolescence.

2. To validly comprehend VO2max, it must be related to a specific maximal performance of a given distance or duration under specific performance conditions.

Implication. The traditional use of VO2max produces a spurious understanding for actual performance. Adolescents increase in aerobic performance for specific tasks as age increases. Thus, it becomes important to talk of maximal aerobic power for what task rather than just quoting a number as if there is a very simple entity of VO2max that exists independent of task quality. Performance features must be included in any consideration of aerobic capacity.

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