The upper limit of aerobic power in humans

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


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.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis / physiology*
  • Athletes* / statistics & numerical data
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Skiing / physiology
  • Young Adult