Maximal oxygen uptake: "old" and "new" arguments for a cardiovascular limitation

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992 Jan;24(1):30-7.


The research performed over the last 100 yr in regard to oxygen transport during exercise is reviewed. Special focus is on major shifts in views held on which link may limit maximal oxygen uptake of an individual exercising with a large fraction of the muscle mass. Initially the pump capacity of the heart was proposed as the critical factor, a view basically unchallenged until results on the plasticity of muscle came about in the 1960-70s. The capillary bed of the muscle and its mitochondrial volumes can be enhanced with training. These adaptations were then suggested to be prerequisites for maximal oxygen uptake to become elevated. The pendulum is slowly swinging back again toward heart and lungs setting the upper limit for the oxygen transport. It appears to be in the range of 80-90 or 150-200 muscle.min-1, which can easily be consumed by a fraction of the muscle mass intensely contracting.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / enzymology
  • Mitochondria, Muscle / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Exertion*