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Why are some people naturally better at sports than others?

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Why are some people naturally better at sports than others? - An Introduction to VO2 Max Every cell consumes oxygen for respiration, to make energy. Muscle cells that are used in exercise need energy to contract. So it makes sense that they will use more oxygen during exercise. Therefore to be good at sport, getting as much oxygen as possible to those cells is vital. This is called the maximum oxygen consumption and is characteristically very high in great athletes. The measurement for maximum oxygen consumption is VO2 max, or the volume of oxygen consumed by the body each minute during exercise. ...read more.


The amount of muscle and its ability to use the oxygen supplied. In other words, to have a high VO2 max (and be better at sport), you need to have a big and efficient pump to deliver oxygen right blood to the muscles, and mitochondria rich muscles to use that oxygen and turn it into energy for exercise. Experiments have shown that the muscles can use much more oxygen than the heart can deliver to them. Long-term training can result in a 300% increase in the muscle's use of oxygen, but only a 15-25% increase in the amount of oxygen intake. In other words, it isn't how well the oxygen converts oxygen into energy, but how good the circulatory system is to deliver the oxygen that limits how well a person can exercise. ...read more.


So there is another form of VO2 max. This is called Relative VO2 max, and is equivalent to the number of millilitres of oxygen consumed per minute of exercise per kg of bodyweight. So basically, for a 30 year old male with no training, his VO2 max will be somewhere between 40-45 ml/min/kg. Training could improve this to 45-50 ml/min/kg. In comparison, an Olympic champion 10,000m runner would have a value of about 80ml/min/kg!! It isn't training alone that has made such a difference - without it their value would be about 65 - 70 ml/min/kg anyway! Training is important, but if you want to be an athlete you need to pick your parents well! To put this all in perspective, humans pale in comparison to animal athletes. A thoroughbred horse would have a value of about 150ml/min/kg!! ...read more.

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