European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 111, Issue 10, pp 2625–2628 | Cite as

The upper limit of aerobic power in humans

  • Martin Burtscher
  • Werner Nachbauer
  • Randall Wilber
Case Study


Data on the upper limit of aerobic power in humans are scarce. Thus, here we demonstrate extraordinarily high V′O2max 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′O2max of 90.6 mL/min/kg (45 s average; 26 METs; 5.7 L/min). But even more impressive than V′O2max was his ability to exercise at a V′O2 of 65 mL/min/kg (71.4% V′O2max) at a lactate level of 1.6 mmol/L. At the self-selected maximal lactate steady state he consumed 78 mLO2/min/kg (85.7% V′O2max) with a corresponding lactate level of 4.4 mmol/L. These values rank among the highest ever demonstrated in human beings.


Maximum oxygen uptake Exercise Upper limits Endurance capacity Elite athletes 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Burtscher
    • 1
  • Werner Nachbauer
    • 1
  • Randall Wilber
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Sport Science, Medical SectionUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.Elite Athlete Performance Lab, US Olympic CommitteeColorado SpringsUSA

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