V̇O2max in overweight and obese adults: Do they meet the threshold criteria?

Academic Article


  • Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine whether adiposity affects the attainment of V̇O2max. Methods: Sixty-seven male and 68 female overweight (body mass index (BMI) = 25-29.9 kg•m) and obese (BMI > 30 kg•m) participants undertook a graded treadmill test to volitional exhaustion (phase 1) followed by a verification test (phase 2) to determine the proportion who could achieve a plateau in V̇O2 and other "maximal" markers (RER, lactate, HR, RPE). Results: At the end of phase 1, 46% of the participants reached a plateau in V̇O2, 83% increased HR to within 11 beats of age-predicted maximum, 89% reached an RER of >1.15, 70% reached a blood lactate concentration of >8 mmol•L, and 74% reached an RPE of >18. No significant differences between genders and between BMI groups were found with the exception of blood lactate concentration (males = 84% vs females = 56%, P < 0.05). Neither gender nor fatness predicted the number of other markers attained, and attainment of other markers did not differentiate whether a V̇O2 plateau was achieved. The verification test (phase 2) revealed that an additional 52 individuals (39%) who did not exhibit a plateau in V̇O2 in phase 1 had no further increase in V̇O2 in phase 2 despite an increase in workload. Conclusions: These findings indicate that the absence of a plateau in V̇O2 alone is not indicative of a failure to reach a true maximal V̇O2 and that individuals with excessive body fat are no less likely than "normal-weight" individuals to exhibit a plateau in V̇O2 provided that the protocol is appropriate and encouragement to exercise to maximal exertion is provided. Copyright © 2010 by the American College of Sports Medicine.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wood RE; Hills AP; Hunter GR; King NA; Byrne NM
  • Start Page

  • 470
  • End Page

  • 477
  • Volume

  • 42
  • Issue

  • 3