Methods to Estimate VO2max upon Acute Hypoxia Exposure

Martin J. Macinnis, Sean F. Nugent, Kristin E. MacLeod, Keith R. Lohse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Introduction Altitude and an individual's VO2max contribute to a decrease in VO2max under hypoxic conditions. The purpose of this study was to update previous reviews with recent research in order to quantitatively determine the individual and interacting effects of altitude and baseline VO2max on VO2max upon acute exposure to hypoxia while developing a statistical model to predict an individual's VO2max under hypoxic conditions. Methods Meta-regression was conducted on 105 independent groups of participants (n = 958 supjects from 80 different studies). A series of regression models was tested. The final model included altitude, baseline VO2max, Alt2, baseline VO2max 2, and the interaction of altitude with baseline VO2max. Results A curvilinear model provided the best fit for metadata, explaining almost 80% of the variance in the null model. Nonlinear effects of Alt2 (β =-0.078; 95% confidence interval,-0.15 to-0.002) and baseline VO2max 2 (β =-0.003; 95% confidence interval,-0.004 to-0.001) showed that VO2max decreases as altitude increases and that the decrease is greater in individuals with higher aerobic capacities. The interaction of these effects (β =-0.028; 95% confidence interval,-0.042 to-0.015) also showed that the effects of altitude were augmented with higher baseline aerobic capacities. Furthermore, the predictions of the model were fairly accurate in predicting individual decreases in VO2max (root-mean-squared error, 3.9 mL·kg-1·min-1). Conclusions These data provide a robust quantitative framework for the curvilinear and interacting effects of altitude and baseline VO2max in determining an individual's effective VO2max at altitude. This predictive model is useful for a priori power calculations, design of future experimental studies, and prediction of aerobic capacity declines in applied settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1869-1876
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 18 2015




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