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The Peter Attia Drive

Peak athletic performance: How to measure it and how to train for it from the coach of the most elite athletes on earth | Olav Aleksander Bu

The Peter Attia Drive
The Peter Attia Drive

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Olav Aleksander Bu is an internationally renowned sports scientist acclaimed for his coaching prowess with elite athletes spanning a diverse range of sports disciplines. In this episode, Olav delves deep into the intricacies of VO2 max and its profound impact on performance. They explore the relationship between VO2 max and ATP production, energy efficiency, and power, as well as the impact of low-intensity training on VO2 max. The conversation extends to Olav’s experiences pushing the boundaries with high-performance athletes and the data driven interventions he uses to improve performance. They also dissect the role of lactate threshold, discuss other important metrics to track, and explore the exciting possibility of utilizing a portable VO2 testing device as a practical alternative to traditional lab-based assessments.

We discuss:

  • Olav’s background, expertise in exercise physiology, coaching experience, and interest in the extremes of human capability [4:15];
  • The processes of energy conversion within the human body and its implications for performance [9:30];
  • Improving movement efficiency, and the importance of mindfulness in training to optimize performance [20:00];
  • The relationship between VO2 max, power output, and endurance performance in different sporting contexts [34:45];
  • How VO2 max is measured in the lab, and why it’s a crucial predictor of both lifespan and quality of life [44:45];
  • Absolute vs relative VO2 max, the significance of functional threshold power in cycling, and the importance of longer duration tests for accurate assessments [54:00];
  • Portable VO2 testing devices as a practical alternative to lab-based tests [1:05:15];
  • The complexities of measuring ventilation and its impact on performance metrics like VO2 max and heart rate [1:15:45];
  • Training interventions to increase VO2 max, and factors that impact performance outcomes [1:23:30];
  • The respiratory exchange ratio (RER) and endurance sports, and how factors such as diet composition and exercise intensity influence RER values and performance [1:32:45];
  • Science-guided training for versatile athletes: maximizing VO2 max, power, torque, and cadence in cycling, and the importance of incorporating diverse stimuli to enhance performance [1:41:00];
  • Physiological limitations on VO2 max [2:02:15];
  • The different energy systems used during work, and other things to monitor like VCO2 and heart rate [2:06:00];
  • Lactate threshold and other metrics to guide your training [2:10:30];
  • Analysis of a lactate power curve: exploring lactate dynamics in endurance training and performance [2:23:15]; and
  • More.

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The Peter Attia Drive
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