Human aerobic performance: Too much ado about limits to V̇O2

Stan L. Lindstedt, K. E. Conley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Human endurance performance is often evaluated on the basis of the maximal rate of oxygen uptake during exercise (V̇O2max). Methods for overcoming limits to V̇O2max are touted as means for increasing athletic endurance performance. Here, we argue that the respiratory system is well designed for delivering O2 to meet O2 demands and that no single factor is rate-determining for O2 uptake. We show that (V̇O2max can vary 5000-fold among mammals, while any limitation to O2 delivery by a single component of the respiratory system affects (V̇O2max by 10% or less. Attempts to increase O2 delivery by enhancing one step in the respiratory system are shown to have little effect. Blood doping, hyperoxia and O2 supplementation of high-altitude natives all raise O2 availability substantially to the working muscles, but these treatments increase (V̇O2max only minimally. Finally, we argue that O2 uptake is only one of a number of properties important to human aerobic performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3195-3199
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number18
StatePublished - 2001


  • Aerobic performance
  • Endurance
  • Human
  • Oxygen delivery
  • Oxygen transport cascade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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