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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2011 Oct;111(10):2625-8. doi: 10.1007/s00421-011-1885-4. Epub 2011 Mar 4.

The upper limit of aerobic power in humans.

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Department of Sport Science, Medical Section, University of Innsbruck, Fürstenweg 185, Innsbruck, Austria.


Data on the upper limit of aerobic power in humans are scarce. Thus, here we demonstrate extraordinarily high V'O(2)max and submaximal exercise performance in a young elite cross country skier (22 years, 170 cm, 63 kg; hemoglobin: 16.8 g/dL) who was evaluated before winning an Olympic gold medal. The test was performed during progressive roller-ski exercise on an outdoor uphill track (7-10% incline). The athlete demonstrated a V'O(2)max of 90.6 mL/min/kg (45 s average; 26 METs; 5.7 L/min). But even more impressive than V'O(2)max was his ability to exercise at a V'O(2) of 65 mL/min/kg (71.4% V'O(2)max) at a lactate level of 1.6 mmol/L. At the self-selected maximal lactate steady state he consumed 78 mLO(2)/min/kg (85.7% V'O(2)max) with a corresponding lactate level of 4.4 mmol/L. These values rank among the highest ever demonstrated in human beings.

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