VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals

Advice and recommendations regarding VO2 Max (maximal oxygen consumption) testing

VO2 Max, or maximal oxygen consumption, refers to the maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilize during exercise. It is displayed as milliliter per kilogram of body weight in a single minute and is reflective of a person’s fitness at the time of testing. These metrics can be obtained by measuring the gases inhaled and exhaled by participants when exercising, with such screening also referred to as a cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET or CPx test). In addition to obtaining a person’s VO2 Max score, this test can identify metabolism rate, respiratory efficiency and cardiovascular strength.

Which groups are suited to a VO2 Max test?

  1. Professional or amateur athletes, such as runners, triathletes, and cyclists, who require a VO2 Max score to plan their training strategy and to help them achieve their full athletic potential.
  2. Health and fitness enthusiasts, including those new to exercise and sports, who wish to know their true maximum heart rate for use in planning their exercise, and who may wish to detect any congenital diseases.
  3. People who have taken an extended absence from exercise and/or sports, but now wish to make a safe return.
  4. The elderly and people suffering with cardiopulmonary disorders, who want to be sure they are exercising safely.
  5. Overweight people who are looking to lose weight; a VO2 Max score can be used to create a training regime aimed at losing weight safely and effectively.
  6. People with cardiovascular disorders who wish to make a safe return to exercise and/or playing sports.

Information obtained from a VO2 Max test

  1. The participant’s VO2 Max score: This score is an indicator of the aerobic metabolism efficiency of the participant. Extremely fit people will have a higher score, although the score also has several other factors affecting it such as gender, age, and ethnicity.
  2. Anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold score: This score shows the aerobic metabolism limits of the participant before the body begins using anaerobic metabolism for energy. Anaerobic metabolism results in the production of lactic acid—a waste product that causes fatigue and pain in the muscles. This information is useful when creating or modifying a training plan because it can help improve the efficiency of aerobic metabolism.
  3. Fat oxidation rate: This rating can help people trying to lose weight in adjusting their training plans to ensure efficient use of fat stores during exercise.
  4. Heart rate zones: These are used to make individually tailored adjustments to training plans.
  5. Respiratory function analysis: This offers an insight into cardiovascular function, which gives participants an idea of potentially dangerous warning signs during exercise.

To summarize, in addition to an analysis of a person’s improved fitness over a certain training period, VO2 Max tests can also provide a range of other useful information necessary for creating or modifying a training plan. This can ensure a person is making the most of their training and getting the best out of their body.

Preparing to undergo the test

  1. Get plenty of sleep—at least 8 hours on the night before the test.
  2. Avoid any strenuous exercise for at least 12 hours prior to the test.
  3. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol and do not smoke for at least 3 hours before the test.
  4. Do not eat any heavy meals for at least 3 hours prior to the start of the test.
  5. Take any regular medications as usual. If you are unsure about anything regarding your health, consult your doctor before undergoing the test
  6. If you fall ill or sustain an injury before the test, inform the hospital and they will postpone the assessment.
  7. Bring comfortable, athletic clothing and your regular pair of running shoes on the day of your test. Women should also wear a sports bra.

Testing process

A VO2 Max test typically involves participants either running on a treadmill or pedalling on a stationary bike depending on their regular form of exercise. Participants will wear a mask to gauge gas levels when inhaling and exhaling during the test, as well as a heart rate strap around their chest and EKG 12 leads to analyze cardiology. The test is split into 4 sections:

  1. Stand or sit in a stationary position for 3 minutes, breathing in and out normally, to assess pre-exercise state.
  2. Begin to walk or cycle at a light intensity for 3 minutes as a warm-up.
  3. The test itself will begin with gradual increases in speed and gradient on the treadmill or bike until the participant can go on no longer, at which point the test will end.
  4. The participant will then walk or cycle at a light intensity for 5 minutes to cool down and relax the muscles.

In total, the test takes around 30 minutes to complete before a doctor consultation, which lasts roughly another 30 minutes.

VO2Max Review: Fitness Assessment at Sports and Orthopedic Center

Review by Kamtorn Nateethanasarn administrator of Banana Running

Before the testing

The Banana Running Team recently tested the VO2Max at Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital’s Sports & Orthopedic Center. Before the test, we had the chance to talk with Assoc. Prof. Chathchai Pookarnjanamorakot, M.D., who as an orthopedic surgeon and specialist in sports medicine is one of the pioneers responsible for introducing sports medicine into Samitivej Hospital’s Orthopedic Center.

Before we took the VO2 Max test, our doctor showed us the new Sports and Orthopedic Center. The new center is already fitted out with fitness testing equipment for conducting tests such as balance assessments and joint and muscular strength testing.The latter is very useful for checking whether injured athletes are ready to return to action. The center also houses a range of fitness equipment that you would normally expect to find in a leading fitness club rather than in a hospital. There is even a treadmill with a monitor which simulates different race experiences in various locations.

VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals

Dr. Chathchai, a former university volleyball player, began by telling us about his time as a doctor at a hospital sports center when he was in Germany. The aim of the hospital sports center, as Dr. Chathchai explained, is not only to treat injuries but also to prevent them, a concept which is still very new in Thailand. As a leading private hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, Samitvej Hospital has taken the initiative and opened up its own “Sports & Orthopedic Center” under the guidance of pioneers like Dr. Chathchai.

VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals

Start of the Testing

Before we were ready to start the test, the medical staff and nurse attached some monitoring equipment (plastic pads or electrodes). It is necessary to remove the clothing from the upper part of your body to do this because a shirt can easily cause the electrodes to fall off. Therefore, if a woman is being tested, the doctor recommends that she wear a sports bra.

Next, the staff fixed the VO2 Max mask to our faces. The mask is also connected to the VO2 Max machine by a tube. This tube delivers oxygen to the person being tested as they breathe in. It, then, collects the air that is exhaled in order to measure the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the breath and calculate all the relevant parameters.

We also discovered that healthcare professionals use the medical term VO2 Max to describe this measurement of oxygen capacity. The term refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. In short, VO2 Max measures the athlete’s maximum ability to pull oxygen from the air, transport it into the blood, and deliver it to muscles in the body. In theory, those with a high VO2 Max value are better able to perform aerobic exercises. Basically, doctors use this value to indicate a person’s level of fitness and performance endurance.

VO2 Max operates under a protocol which involves gradually increasing both the speed and incline of the treadmill (the intensity of the exercise). When the person being tested becomes too tired to continue, they simply raise their hand to stop the treadmill. The test lasts for 15 minutes.

VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals

The Result

Table 1

VO2Max will show the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide consumption in relation to the heart rate, running speed and degree of incline.

According to the graph, there are 2 important parameters which are AT (Anaerobic Threshold) and RCP (respiratory compensation point).

At the first phase of running, oxygen is the main source of energy, the so called aerobic metabolic system. When the running speed is increasing, the main source of energy is not sufficiently available. Hence, the body will begin to use energy from other sources through anaerobic metabolism. This causes cells to produce waste molecules known as lactic acid which impair muscles, causing muscle pain and fatigue.

  • AT (Anaerobic Threshold) is the point when the body starts collecting lactic acid and also initiates anaerobic metabolism along with the aerobic metabolic system.
  • RCP (Respiratory Compensation Point) is the point when there is too much lactic acid in the body. As a result,  the individual can no longer continue exercising or will need to stop exercising very soon.

We divided the results from table 1 into 5 exercise zones as shown in table 2.

VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals

Table 2

In addition to the zones, there is another interesting table which analyzes the heart rate to indicate the most effective exercise intervals for burning fat.

VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals

Table 3

Table 3 shows an individual’s most effective heart rate for burning fat. According to this table, if our heart rate is about 120 beats per minute, the body can burn fat effectively. If we run faster, our body will begin to use energy from other sources.

VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals

Table 4

Table 4 summarizes the VO2 Max value, which in this case is 45. This represents the VO2 Max value for an amateur sportsperson.

VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals

Table 5

These training recommendations are based on the zoning and give suggestions on how to increase the VO2 Max value. I will follow the recommendations and see how it affects my new VO2 Max value.

VO2 Max Review in Bangkok | Samitivej Hospitals


The results of the VO2 Max test were impressive. It shows us all our important parameters while exercising. We can use this information to improve our sports performance in an accurate and effective way.

To further underline how useful the results can be, the doctor gave us an example of one of the common mistakes people make when exercising. Despite exercising very intensely, some people are unable to lose weight or burn off as much fat as expected. This is because their heart beat does not reach their effective rates for burning fat when they exercise. After testing, we know from our results that 120 beats per minute is our effective heart rate for burning fat so we can exercise more efficiently from now on.

Moreover we can learn our heart rate and best exercise zones. This information can help us plan an exercise program which is most suitable for our body.

The VO2 Max is not only for fitness assessment but also for amateur or professional sports performance enhancement.

Samitivej has a team ready to help and provide services for: 

  • Treatment Plan Consultation with a doctor via online video-call (second opinion)
  • Treatment Planning if you have medical records or a price estimate from another hospital 
  • Cost Planning by our Appraisals Team with price guarantee (only for procedure packages without complications)
  • Check Initial Coverage Eligibility with Thai and international insurance companies (only for insurance companies in contract with the Hospital)

For those who are interested in VO2 Max test, click here to request an appointment for your test .

The Sports and Orthopedic Center, Samitivej Hospital, Bangkok also reaches out to anyone suffering from orthopedic injuries, or from acute or chronic damage to bones and joints. Our center brings together a highly accomplished team of 38 orthopedic surgeons, physical therapists and sports injury and physical rehabilitation experts. We pair these experienced experts with the latest orthopedic and physical rehabilitation equipment, ensuring all patients receive the best possible care.


Already have an account?