Master Your Breath: The Secret to Improving your Conditioning (VO2 Max) with Peter O’Brien and Andrew Sellers

Considering portable, affordable, and simple VO2 testing? Listen in to the founders of VO2 Master.

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Crystal O’Keefe: Welcome to the MetPro Method Podcast. I’m your host, Crystal O’Keefe, and today I’m joined by Andrew Sellers and Peter O’Brien. Now Peter is the CEO of VO2 Master and Andrew is the co-founder of VO2 Master, and today we’re gonna be discussing, All things related to VO2 max, uh, and, and some other offshoots of that.

So, Peter and Andrew, thank you so much for being here today.
Peter O’Brien: Thanks for having us.

Andrew Sellers: Absolute pleasure.

Crystal O’Keefe: I really appreciate you guys being here. I feel like VO2 max and things related to that come up all the time. So I kind of wanna start with a little bit about just what VO2 Master is and how it relates to what people might think of as a traditional test for VO2 max.

Peter O’Brien: Sure. Yeah. So essentially VO2 Master is a, is a company. Andrew and I started, gosh, nine years ago, uh, with the, the idea that people need portable, affordable, and simple VO2 testing. Because I think essentially everyone recognizes the value of VO2 max or resting metabolic rate to some capacity, and everyone’s seen it on their Garmin watch and whatnot, but, you know, um, most people traditionally haven’t had access to that kind of a metric.

So, we all kind of use it running and training. Um, but uh, we might be using more of an estimated number than an actual measure of individual physiology.

Crystal O’Keefe: So, what does VO2 master do that is different than what people are thinking of as a traditional test? Like if you put it into visual for people.

Peter O’Brien: Totally. So, if, if the people out there who have done a traditional VO2 max test on a treadmill or bike with the big hose, essentially we replaced the hose and that big lab cart that went beside it with this little mask, it’s, oh, look at that little guy. It’s an entirely face-worn device. It’s the same set of sensors you might find in a lab cart but packaged much better.

Um, so it’s just a mask Bluetoothed to a phone app, cloud system. And effectively you can run the same test. You can do A VO2 max test and actually measure VO2 max training zones, um, thresholds or plan out some diet management plans, rmr, bmi, all that sort of thing. Um, In a simple enough way that the, instead of this just being restricted to labs in a hospital or national federation, average people can have access to it.

And that, that’s essentially where, where Andrew and I came from, right? Andrew, uh, had a, a coaching business and he did VO2 testing, but he needed his medical background as anesthetist to use the equipment properly. And that’s, I think, um, you know, that’s a bit silly. Everyone needs access to VO2 as a valuable metric.

Crystal O’Keefe: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with that. I have done a couple of different, uh, VO2 max tests. Uh, I’ve had a couple of different experiences and, um, I find that it is, first of all a very difficult test, like I feel because I’m a really slow runner. So man, they start, uh, amping up that, uh, treadmill speed and it’s, it’s tough.

It’s really tough. Um, but I also really enjoy the insight that comes from it. So for people who haven’t had a chance to do that kind of test before, Can you tell us what is the actual, the information there?

Andrew Sellers: Yeah, so maybe, maybe I’ll take that one on Peter. Go for it, Andrew.

That’s okay. So VO2 Max testing is, is one aspect of collecting VO2 data and I, I’m not convinced that it’s the, the best use of our equipment, but it is a use and so, when you say a VO2 max test, what we’re talking about is the amount of oxygen that the body’s able to consume at maximum intensity.

So, the typical test, there’s a number of, there’s literally dozens of different documented ways of getting to that maximum, but most tests revolve around starting at a relatively slow, comfortable pace, either on a treadmill or on a bike, or some way of measuring intensity. You can do it on an air bike or a rowing machine.

It doesn’t really matter. It depends on what sport you’re doing and what you’re training for. And then you gradually increase that intensity until the person reaches what they perceive as their maximum or physiologically, you actually see a plateau in that oxygen consumption. And that’s why it feels so hard every time you do it is because they’re trying to push you to your highest intensity that you can manage.

And so it is a maximum effort test and the number that comes out is how much oxygen. Per kilogram, most people who reported as a per milliliters, per kilogram per minute. And that gives you numbers that you’ve heard. If you’ve ever read any men’s health magazine or fitness magazines, they’ll report those.

Some of the highest numbers are from, from famous athletes like Lance Armstrong notoriously cheated to get there, but had high VO2 max numbers even as a youth before he began his, uh, sort of road down cheating lane, and then as your comparison across different athletes from different fields.

So, you can, you can, you can actually test, um, oxygen consumption on all those different devices, but it’s, it has traditionally been hard because of the limitations of the lab carts that were used with the big tubes and hoses and, and blocky things. We can now actually collect data from people out. Moving through a bunch of different sports, so you can put them on, you can put our unit on rock climbers or cross-country skiers that are outside in warmer weather.

We don’t, doesn’t do great under super cold weather, but it does really well outside and, um, uh, and collecting data from a bunch of different sports that weren’t able to be tested before. So, so that’s two max. Okay, go ahead. You’ve got more. The other part of it is, is actually collecting the amount of oxygen consumption and how people breathe at all the different levels before they get to maximum.

So for you, you were saying that you’re not a particularly fast runner, and what we’re interested in from a metabolic perspective is what kind of metabolism is she using at lower intensity? Is that the pace she’s going to run either in her training or in her races? That would actually help guide. That performance and guide her training so much like measuring calories, uh, consumed or calories burned.

We’re actually looking at the amount of oxygen used to produce that. Caloric consumption, and that’s what metabolism is, is the conversion of fuel to energy. And that’s exactly what we’re measuring. That’s what VO2 master measures at all intensities. And you can do that at rest, which is a resting metabolic rate.

So, you can put the mask on for, you can do a five minute test or a 10 or a 20 minute test lying in a relaxed position, and you can test how much metabolism is happening in the body at the resting metabolic rate. And that gives you. Some indication of what kind of nutritional support you need just to get through life.

And if the goal is weight loss, then you can actually use that number to, to balance what’s coming in and what’s going out.

Crystal O’Keefe: Okay. So, for people who would like to use something like this as training, as a training guide, how does knowing how much oxygen you consume help you train?

Andrew Sellers: Yeah, so the oxygen consumption is directly related to the amount of calories consumed.
So you can actually, our device does a internal calculation to measure the amount of energy that’s being produced by the body and convert it into a caloric number that’ll give you calories per hour on resting metabolic rate. We actually push that out over 24 hours, and that gives you a number of calories that you burn if you are resting all day.

And then you can add to that the calories that you burn during your activities. And we can give you a better idea of what those calories actually are. Instead of making a guess that you’re burning 500 calories an hour running, you might be, but you also might be only burning 300 calories per hour. Or you could be about burning 800 calories an hour, now you have a better understanding of what you need to do to refuel from that training session or to use that training session towards weight loss.

So, it’s a, it’s a background calculation that that converts oxygen consumption into calorie deficit.

Peter O’Brien: Yeah. And, and it’s the real fundamental measure of that if you get a smartwatch and use that to track your calories, well, that smartwatch was actually calibrated with a real VO2 analyzer, and they correlated what actually the athlete was doing to wrist motion.

So, um, and there can be a 10 or 20% difference between, you know, a, a. Calculator on Google saying how many calories you burn and the actual number for that individual. So, it’s really going beyond just what’s the, the broad strokes correct way to do things, and actually getting that, that individual’s physiology recorded.

And then say, so if you do a resting metabolic rate test that shows your snapshot today, then say you, you tweak your diet, you change your lifestyle, your metabolism might change, you should retest.

Crystal O’Keefe: Okay, so. I have so many questions. how often would a person want to retest, like in an optimal world that, you know,

Andrew Sellers: Ooh, that’s good that you’re now talking. One of my favorite questions and that is actually the background that Peter and I both came out of was when, when Peter came to me as a young athlete, he was a young teenager when I first met him, and he was training with a bunch of cyclists and, and our whole method of training those athletes was to test them to see where they were at, then to try a training method, see if it worked, and then retest them by, and that helps us see if it’s working. So, the answer to your question is you should retest anytime you think you’ve made a change.

So, if you haven’t changed what you’re doing, then there’s no real point in retesting because you shouldn’t expect a difference. But if you have changed something, if you’ve changed your diet, or you’ve changed your exercise, or you’ve changed your sleep patterns, or you’ve done something to make, to make a physical difference, then you can retest to see if it actually has made a difference to your metabolism.

And in most cases, it can be four to six weeks. And so, if you, and if you continue to make changes, so if you make those first changes in six weeks and you retest and there’s no difference in your metabolism, then the changes that you’ve made. Aren’t changing your metabolism.

They might be changing your weight. They might be changing your ability to run faster. They might be changing other things, but they’re not changing your metabolism so, then you can redirect that pattern. And if you’re changing your diet and you’re moving to a more plant-based diet or a more protein heavy diet, you can say, well, it didn’t change my metabolism.

It makes me feel better. I run better. Everything else is working and I’m losing weight. Great. I’m meeting my goals, but I haven’t actually changed my metabolism. If the goal is actually to change metabolism, then test it. Let’s see if your resting metabolism is actually increasing, which would be a goal of any weight loss program would be to increase your metabolism.

Peter O’Brien: And what, what I found really sort of relieving and, and interesting when I got to know Andrew, I came from a background of swimming when I was really young. I am a competitive swimmer. You know, and I think in that kind of old school coaching methodology, the swimming coaches might take 50 athletes and give them effectively the same training regime.

And why is it that one of ’em goes to the Olympics? Three of them go to nationals, the bottom quarter have shoulder injuries. Like me, you know, training needs to be a bit more individualized than that. And, you know, Andrew’s method of tests, come up with an idea of how training can be improved, enact that, and then actually retest was, I just thought it was brilliant.

It’s, you know, Andrew using his expertise in coaching and in medicine to make that happen. You know, Andrew, I remember back in the day you maybe speaking to limiters and training plateaus. And feel free to correct me because I’ll probably get this wrong. But I like the idea of the Wasserman three gears.

We have lungs, heart, and the muscles of the legs, the mitochondria. And you know, how does, um, the energy system where you get O2 in it goes through the lungs, through the heart, into the muscles, it’s burned to make energy with sugars, carbs, and then it comes back out as co2. We produce co2 that’s exhaled.

So you could also think of it as. You know, when an athlete gets to their Iron Man threshold, their second ventilatory threshold, or they get to max to failure, there’s some part of their body limiting them from going faster. It might be the heart, it might be the lungs. It might be the legs. If you, if your limiter is inability to breathe efficiently while running fast and all of your training makes your heart stronger, you might never get faster.

That’s a training plateau. Yes. If you can measure that and redirect your training, you might quickly get a lot faster and, and you know, may, maybe that’s the reason some people don’t improve over years.

Crystal O’Keefe: Well, I’ve got a lot. I get right Andrew. I have so much to say about that because I can’t tell you how many times myself included, I’ve talked to people who it’s like, I wanna get faster, but I do struggle to breathe and it’s like it’s a real, like it is so hard for me to slow down.

My breath when I’m running hard. And I know that that is important, but it’s hard to do because it’s not as easy as, as like some people that comes naturally too. I am not one of those people.

Andrew Sellers: So now you’re, now you’re speaking my true love language because great. This is all, this all comes back to breathing, which is.

Again, you were asking before about VO2 max and the value of VO2 master measuring that, but the data from VO2 master actually gives you real time look at how you’re breathing. So in order for us to calculate how much oxygen you’re consuming, we have to measure how much you’re breathing in, how much oxygen is being pulled out of that.

Air that you breathe in versus how much you’re breathing out. So our device measures every breath. It measures how big a breath you take and how fast you’re breathing, and that combined number is called your ventilation. So your ventilation changes with your intensities. So at resting intensities, your breathing.

Somewhere between six and 10 breaths a minute, and roughly about a half a liter, 500 milliliters per breath, and that calculates somewhere down in the sort of four to six liters per minute area. But that value can increase in well-trained athletes up to 100, 200, even 300 liters per minute. So you have this massive range of ability to be able to shift your respiratory response to exercise.

And our device measures that. So you can see it in the app, right? Live how fast you’re breathing and how deep you’re breathing. So now it can actually be changed from a testing tool once you’ve measured how you’re actually breathing and where your limitations are in your breathing in, in your different running paces.

And you can use it to now look at how you’re breathing when you’re training. Wow. So it’s one of the big values of VO2 testing that is not recorded in the literature. They have these. Millions of people that have been tested during VO2 max test, but very few people have actually looked at how those people breathed and what the different patterns they were breathing long before they get to max.

Because what happens at your maximum, it isn’t all that interesting. You’re at your maximum. You’re never gonna run like that. You’re, you’re gonna jog and run at much slower paces. And, and what I’m interested in is what, how you’re actually getting through that pace. What’s your heart doing? What’s your respiratory system doing?

What are your muscles doing to get you comfortably running at a jogging pace? Wow. And so our, our device adds insight into the metabolism at that point and how you’re breathing. And that’s the, the hating key that because people haven’t had access to it, piece of equipment that. Does it easily, they don’t use it.

Yes. But now we have athletes around the world that are actually looking at how they’re breathing and, and having those same questions you have, why do I have, why am I breathing so fast? Why am I breathing so shallow? How, how come I can’t take a deeper breath? And learning that the respiratory system has a remarkable ability to be trained just like any other system.

Huh? We just didn’t have a way of measuring it before. Now we have a way of.

Peter O’Brien: And there’s remarkable differences between, you know, some people practice yoga, breathing at rest, and that’s completely different than running full tilt, arm swing, opposing to legs, engaging the core and trying to breathe deeply.

Um, yeah, it’s, it’s such a different environment use case.

Crystal O’Keefe: Yeah. And I guess, um, you really can’t like, drag a cart with you with that, that hose on it. So I can see why that would be tough to do.

Andrew Sellers: It’s actually considered gold, which is baffling, still considered the gold standard. It’s called Douglas Bag, the original.

VO2 test was a, a cyclist running with a big air bladder, collecting the air from the runner through a hose into an air, and then analyzing the gas at the end of the run, huh? That was the original, and that’s still considered the gold standard.

Crystal O’Keefe: Well, that’s fascinating. Yeah. Okay, so you guys have these ventilatory thresholds, which I’ve never heard anybody talk about.

So tell me about the, the thresholds one and two. What does that mean?

Andrew Sellers: So, um, Anybody who’s used a heart rate monitor before has, has seen that when they’re walking, they have a lower, with the resting, they have a low heart rate. As they start walking, their heart rate increases and it increases linearly the faster you go.

So if you go from four miles per hour to five miles an hour, your heart rate increases 15 beats. When you go from five miles to six miles an hour, it’ll go up another 16, 15 beats. So it creates a straight line on a. Graph. The respiratory system doesn’t do that. It tends to go up in steps, so you’ll keep a respiratory pattern that feels comfortable for a number of intensities.

Until you reach a level that your body is stimulated to breathe faster, and that stimulus comes from excess carbon dioxide, so the building up of carbon dioxide in the system that comes with metabolism. So as you burn fuels, you create byproducts. And the two byproducts that are created from the consumption of sugars and the consumption of fats is water and carbon dioxide.

And your body has to get rid of the carbon dioxide because it causes bad things to happen in the body. Your body becomes acidic, and this is what people talk about, lactic acidosis and, and things, which is a whole nother topic. But what happens is to balance that acidity, you’re actually, you blow off co2.

And that’s why your breathing increases with increased intensity. The more fuel you burn, the more CO2 you have to blow off. And what typically happens is there’s very, it’s very tightly regulated in the body by chemoreceptors in your brain and in your carotid bodies. What happens is your body holds a, what it feels is a comfortable breathing rate.

Then it increases as you hit a threshold and the first threshold that you reach, we is called, is termed VT one. So that’s when you’re going from an easy resting. Breathing rate and depth to a slightly higher one. That’s the one where people talk about below that level, I can talk comfortably. I can speak in full sentences above that level.

I have to take a couple breaths to finish a sentence cuz I can’t really hold a long sustained breath cuz I’m working too hard. That’s VT one that happens some. It all happens to overlap metabolically with the higher end of fat burning. So as. You start as you’re running at an intensity that is mostly deriving its energy from fat.

You have good control of your breathing when you hit VT one, there’s a slight increase in that respiratory pattern, and that really is the top of free fatty acid burning, and you start kicking into burning more sugars. That’s VT one, ventilatory threshold one. Okay. As you keep, if you keep increasing your intensity above VT one, you’ll again hit a plateau where you’re breathing fairly comfortably at that rate and that depth for a number of different intensities until you reach another threshold where things start to feel.

Pretty hard, and this is where you were talking about where you lose control of your breathing. Yeah, I just can’t breathe any slower. That’s VT two. So it typically jumps from a rate of 25 to 30 to something over 45 or 50 breaths a minute. Now you’re breathing almost a breath every second, and it feels really hard.

You don’t feel like talking. You’re. Almost gasping. You’ve lost control of the regular pattern of breathing, and that’s considered VT two and a bunch of things happen at that rate. Not surprisingly, there’s a number of things that stimulate that change in breathing patterns. One, you have a rapid increase in, uh, co2 and that is because you also have.

A higher burning of sugars and they produce more co2. There is a shift in acidity that happens, and that’s what people term lactic acidosis. So there’s an increase in lactate accumulation at that same level. That’s VT two. So those two are fairly. Identifiable from the data, from the ventilation data.

Again, not, you don’t need the VO2 data to see those. You need the ventilation data, the breathing data, the how fast you’re breathing and how deep you’re breathing. Mm-hmm. And everybody will go through those two patterns if you increase your intensity. So if you do a step test like you did when you did a VO2 Max test, you would’ve gone through those two zones before you got to your maximum and you would’ve been able to feel it if we’d have.

If during the test we were talking about how are you feeling with your breathing? Like, oh, this actually feels really easy. That’s below VT one. This feels sustainable, moderate. That’s above VT one, but below VT two, you’ll have a number of different steps where you’re like, yeah, it’s getting harder, but I still feel like I’m in good control.

I can still talk to you. We’re still manageable. Or below a threshold, and then you get above that and you’re like, yeah, I couldn’t do this for much longer. I, I’m really having a hard time breathing now. That’s above VT two.
Peter O’Brien: Yeah, and, and there’s a lot of names for these things. VT one, VT two.

There’s also, you know, fat Max Zone Iron Man Threshold. Um, aerobic Threshold. Anaerobic Threshold. Lactate threshold. There, there’s, there’s at least five different names for each one of these, but essentially I think the, the, your first threshold. Is a, a highly efficient point for the body, usually where the most fats are burned.

And the second one is, is a point of sustainable output. Like the idea of someone who does an Ironman for eight hours would be interested in having the most sustainable and highest performing VT two. And that’s comes back to, you know, VO2 max for an Ironman athlete really doesn’t matter because they’re just interested in how much they can sustain for eight hours, not how much they can max out at for four or five minutes.

Crystal O’Keefe: And so to that point, these different thresholds, different values could have, uh, differing, uh, differing indicators for different people. So like if you have a person that’s really focused on, I wanna lose weight, that they might be focused on a different number than somebody who’s like, I wanna run a marathon and be the most efficient one.

Andrew Sellers: Yeah. VT one. VT one is gonna be, their goal is gonna be their golden ticket if they, if their exercise is focused on weight loss. Okay. Absolutely. It, it will be the most efficient. Use them and we’ll, and we’ll provide them the best intensity that reduces their risk for injury and everything else.

Everything higher than that is almost wasted on those people, unless they’re trying to stimulate a different system. To increase their VT one. So they’re trying to train something differently just to improve their VT one. But, and that’s for, for weight loss. VT one’s gonna be a, a golden ticket.

Peter O’Brien: And that’s, I think, um, a good descriptor of what kind of report VO2 master makes too, say like a smartwatch will estimate someone’s training zones.

If you actually measure your two thresholds, uh, the training zone should align with those so you know exactly where to train for that Fat Max zone instead of taking the. Average that came from a big regression model from the whole population people’s zone or, um, thresholds. Do, do shift significantly be between individuals?

Crystal O’Keefe: Yeah. So just quickly on that, I don’t wanna get into a deep rabbit hole cuz I could go way down there, but when it comes to like, uh, apple Watches or Garmin or any of the things that, uh, estimate your VO2 max, they are in fact just an estimate. Like you can get, you use two different products, you can get wildly different results, correct.

Peter O’Brien: Yeah. And, and try taking a, a Garmin watch that says a VO2 max number run in the snow or the sand, your number will go down because it doesn’t understand running economy. It can’t measure it. That makes total sense. And, and I’m not, you know, I’m not, um, You know, saying those watches are bad, they have great utility, right?

They’re simple, they’re low cost and all that. But there’s a difference between that sort of measurement and an individualistic measurement, a fundamental measure.

Crystal O’Keefe: Absolutely. It’s, it’s like, uh, it’s like you use those, those scales that show your body fat. They’re not a hundred percent accurate, but they’re showing a trend, so you can still get valuable.

Information out of it. But if you’re trying to do, if you’re trying to train for a marathon or you’re trying to train for trying to maximize your ability to, to get fat loss, you’re not gonna get as much out of those numbers as you could by really honing in on the specifics. Um, that’s what I’m hearing.

So, having said that, uh, do you guys have any like trends and patterns around the metabolic data that you’ve, you’ve gathered over time, around weight loss?

Andrew Sellers: Yes. Uh, not as much over time because it hasn’t been our, it hasn’t been my particular focus on training athletes. Um, we, we have. A growing number of people who are interested in sharing that data with us.
So it makes it so, I think in the future we’re gonna, there will actually be trends that we can see more regularly. Um, what I have seen and is not surprising is, Um, athletes who’ve come to me who think that their weight is actually holding them back from their performance. So I, I’ve worked with a lot of, um, ultra runners, triathletes, Ironman athletes and things, and some of them are limited by their weight, but a lot of, and a lot of people struggle with the fact that the more they exercise, they think they should be losing weight and, and they don’t.

And one of the fascinating things that we. When we first started using, uh, resting metabolic rates, that to look at what they were burning, they were drastically overestimating how much weight, how much, how many calories they were burning at rest. So what happens, and, and I’m sure your method understands this, is that.

The more you train, the more efficient you become and the less calories you burn at. Not only during the exercise, but also during the rest. Yes. Based on the. Global population that they were burning 1500 calories a day when they were resting. And we, we’ve tested ultra runners who were, who when they weren’t running, were burning almost no calories.

They were so efficient at living that they were burning 400, 500 calories a day. That’s all they were burning when they weren’t running. Wow. Wow. Yeah. And so it was a, it was shocking to them that they were overestimating their calorie burning by a thousand calories a day. We, so if they ate the basic level of food that they thought they were actually gonna put on a pound to two pounds a week.

Crystal O’Keefe: We do see that all the time at MetPro as coaches because we, we measure it more by like how their body is responding to the food. So it’s like you have all this food measured, right? And it’s like, okay, if you eat these things and these amounts, let’s see how your body responds to that. And so we can, we can tell that when people do an RMR test, it’s not always a hundred percent matching because sometimes people will be like, well, but this says if you go to this calculator, this says that I should be based on my height and weight, I should be burning 2000 calories just being alive. And it’s like, yeah, but, but like, you’re eating 1300 calories or 1400 calories and you’re not losing weight, which means that’s not true.

Andrew Sellers: So yeah, that number’s wrong. Absolutely that number will, will be wrong every time on see any, there’s all these discussions about calories in and calories out.

I would, and I fully agree, if you. If you actually balance the measurable amount of calories and calories out, and that is the problem is most people don’t have a measure of that. So they have an estimate of it based on their height and weight and age and sex and, and they are horrible predictors of metabolism.

You really need to measure it, and again, what Peter’s been able to do with VO2 Master is create a device that is. Easily accessible and easy to use, and you can do it anytime you want. And so again, if you’ve made a change to your diet and you’re like, Hey, I, I think this is working, just test it and see if your metabolism actually has changed.
And unfortunately, for some of those athletes, The more they exercise, the less they will have, they will require to eat. And it is the backwards, it’s a backwards thought.

Peter O’Brien: And, and the opposite side of the, that scale, right? There’s very highly efficient endurance Athletes who have essentially their economy is very good.

They, they’re, they’re calories per kilometer run, per mile biked is, is really, really low. Um, then you have people who do very little cardio who go to the gym all the time. And they might have be very inefficient at, say, walking up the stairs or doing everyday tasks because they actually weigh a lot more, they have so much more muscle mass.

They might be on the opposite end of the scale where they actually have a high base rate or they have a low efficiency in doing a low efficiency in doing everyday tasks where, um, you know, not, not that efficiency in those tasks really matters outside of caloric, uh, burn. They might also have a BMI that’s off the charts and says they’re morbidly obese, but they’re actually very lean and very strong.

Crystal O’Keefe: Oh, I, yeah, I love all the things you guys are saying. I feel like there’s so many people, there’s so much misinformation out there. It, it’s, it’s so refreshing to hear the Yes, absolutely agree with everything you’re saying.

Peter O’Brien: It’s, it’s a funny difference too, hey, between like an endurance athlete that they wanna run as efficiently as possible.

But if you’re just the average person, you go to the gym half an hour and then you want to. Lose weight, you wanna burn the most calories. It’s like, what? What’s the most inefficient way I can walk up the stairs into work? Yeah.

Because I wanna burn the most calories. It’s a, yeah. Completely different goal.

Crystal O’Keefe: It’s, and I mean, and on that note, like

Crystal O’Keefe: again, somebody who’s super slow, it’s also like to, trying to do that, that fat burning, sometimes you have to be like, you have to walk to get that, to be in that, that place. And that’s, that is also really hard because you’re trying to make your body better at running.

And so it’s very confusing in the brain to try to get better at that.

Andrew Sellers: I will promise you, you are not alone in that. And I would say that we’ve done thousands of tests and the majority of runners, even competitive runners that we were testing, the majority of them, their best training intensity was a fast walk.

Wow. Wow. So, wow. Other than our elite runners or our very competitive age group runners, Most people, their, their best intensity for fat burning and for controlled and improving intensities for both breathing and for cardiovascular health was actually fast walking, especially if there’s any hills involved at all.

So, and they hated it cuz the recommendations are now based on numbers that were sitting in front of them and say, listen, you can actually not run uphill and stay below VT one, so you are gonna go above VT one as soon as that. Trail or that road goes uphill at all. So if it inclines up, you have to walk.

Huh? Okay. And then on flat ground, you could jog and uphill. You have so downhill you can run. Flat ground, you could jog slowly any uphill you walk. And those people made remarkable differences very quickly. And again, but that’s based on now we actually have numbers that we’re based on those recommendations on, so it’s, so they actually now use their heart rate monitor or their watch to actually guide the intensities so that it matches what they were actually measured at metabolically. And then they come, those people come back six weeks and they actually have made a significant difference in their metabolism.

Crystal O’Keefe: And that is so key because you don’t know, if you don’t know how much time you should be spending doing that walking, then you’re kind of guessing.

You’re just like, well, and I’m supposed to do this, but you don’t know how long or how many times a week could you do it. Yeah.

Andrew Sellers: What most people do is they will not use their watch. To the fullest effect. So they’ll, they’ll be recording all that data and there’s a ton of data from that run session, but they haven’t used it during the run.

They look at it afterwards and they go, yeah, I averaged a heart rate of one 30 and I ran. Four miles. Like, okay, what did you actually do in that four miles? I, well, your heart rate went to one 50 every time it went up the hill, it went down to one 15. Every time you went downhill and you averaged what you were perfect average one 30, but your heart rate was never one 30, it was either one 50 or it was one 15.

And those two intensities, you actually didn’t do anything to benefit your body from a cardiovascular health perspective or from a metabolic perspective.

Peter O’Brien: And you know that, that’s good news too because if you, if you slow down your training, especially for um, amateur runners, you have much lower risk of joint injury as well, cuz the, the force in the joints goes up exponentially as one runs.

You don’t actually need to do that. And you know, almost anyone can walk up a steep hill. You just might have to start shuffling your feet like this, right? But you can actually stay at your first threshold.

Crystal O’Keefe: Oh wow. This is all super fascinating. I, I wanna make sure that you guys have gotten all the information across because I’m just asking my questions that benefit me at this point.

So, is there anything that we haven’t touched on about VO2 Master that you feel like people need to know?
Andrew Sellers: Uh, I think, I think we touched on, on a couple of things. The first one is that most people associate VO2 with MAX testing, and that is one very small component of what the device can do. The other ones you talked about with the, the ventilatory thresholds, which from a training perspective are really valuable, especially in weight loss and weight management.

The other one is resting metabolic rate. I I’ll in that sort of package of, of weight loss and understanding what the body’s doing. And then the last piece of that is all the ventilation data. So how a person breathes through all of the range of intensities right from rest, all the way up to maximum. The other piece that VO2 Master does is it incorporates a number of other devices and pulls data.

So this is actually how Peter first got involved with me is he was a computer geek kid and he had the ability to help us analyze the data and we were pulling data from. From heart rate monitors and new straps that actually allowed people to, to measure how they were breathing, called a bio harness.

And we had a laptop, uh, VO2 monitor, but we had all this data that we were trying to look at for a single athlete, and we had no way of actually seeing the data. So Peter actually created a, a software that allowed us to dump all the data into it and come up with some sort of visual of, of the graphs that were created from all those different devices.

When we started talking about, well, how could we make this better cuz this is crazy, we wanna do this for a lot of people, it’s just too cumbersome, is that’s where the, the idea of VO2 Master came from. And so the first thing we did once Peter had a working prototype was to start collecting data from this prototype, but also from heart rate monitors.

And now there’s new equipment called Moxy monitors, which actually measure the amount of oxygen consumed at a local level. So now we have VO2 Master, which collects data from how much oxygen is being used by the whole body, and a portable device that also pulls data from how, uh, an actual muscle works in a single location.

So in the legs or in the arms. And so that’s called the, the typical, the one that’s most commonly used is called a Moxy monitor. That was the first device, we actually incorporated data to be able to collect data into our app. So now our app allows us to be able to see how a person breathes, what their heart’s doing, what, how muscle oxygenation is happening at the local level, how much wattage is being put out by the bike they’re on, or how fast the treadmill’s going, and all that data can be pulled in.

Peter O’Brien: You can also add stride running foot pod to do it outside. You can add core body temperature from core body temperature, And es essentially from each one of these components, you can see how a different part of the body affects performance. Your body gets hotter.

How does it affect your threshold? How does it affect your performance? Um, and, and yeah, that’s, Essentially we, we’ve simplified the way to gather all that insight into one place to help coaches make objective decisions on their athletes’ physiology, which is much, much better than the, the previous method.

You know, the, the world I came from before meeting Andrew of just swimming till my shoulders blew up, hoping I’d go to the Olympics. Yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s a very different world and yeah, I think it’s also important to know that, you know, before this technology wasn’t accessible to. Any coach or gym out there is only in labs and national federations, but every small coaching business or gym can benefit from this as an ancillary service as well, where a coach can get VO2 master and actually offer that, uh, the testing as a service to their athletes.

Crystal O’Keefe: I, I love all this. It’s absolutely incredible. Um, thank you guys both so much for, for sharing all of this and thank you for your time today, both of you, Peter, and Andrew. Um, before we go, please let our listeners know where they can find you and find out more about VO2 Master.

Peter O’Brien: Go to VO2

That’s Victor Oxygen two, not a zero VO2

Crystal O’Keefe: Okay, great. Well, listeners, that’s all for this week. You can find all the MetPro Method episodes anywhere you get podcasts, or you can go to Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review that lets other people know what they can expect.

You can also learn more about MetPro at I’m your host, Crystal O’Keefe and I will be back next week. Until then, remember, consistency is key.

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