found out that the Polar caloric estimates do take into account VO2, but i still haven't found the actual equation they use. also found out that the test for VO2 max provided by the watch (OwnIndex) isnt accurate. out of the 3 times i've used the watch, its results ranged from 37 to 50 and my resting heart rate was about the same for all tests. now the watch does have some trending functionality, so it might have a better estimate over time. but from reading online, the O2 test at the gym should be the most accurate value.
from the O2 test at the gym, my VO2 threshold is 32 and my VO2 peak is 33. you want those numbers to be close, because that means you're in better shape ... so i'm totally kicking ass there. but the problem is my numbers are low. for my age, a VO2 peak of 33 puts me in the bottom 10% compared against the general population (2006) ... i totally suck! er, um ... to be an asshole, that's actually hard for me to believe ... because i've been to wal mart. i've never been an aerobic athlete, but i'm really good at recovering from anaerobic work. the other question is semantics. is the VO2 'peak' from the O2 test the value that my watch wants for VO2 'max'? from the O2 test, the software also provided an estimated value of 57 ... and i'm wondering if that estimated value was specifically VO2 'max'? if not ... what purpose does that estimated value serve? have to follow up on that with the trainers at my gym. but if 57 is my VO2 max, then that makes me an elite athlete. er, um ... now its time to be humble, because i really wouldn't think i'd be elite when it comes to cardio either. for cardio, i would guess somewhere in the middle of the pack.
anyway, i changed my heart rate monitors settings to resting heart rate : 49, max heart rate : 151, VO2 max : 33. from a 1 hr leg workout (moderate intensity) it estimated i burned 600 calories. that actually seems like a reasonable value to me. from the original values (rest:60, max:188, VO2:37) i only burned 400 calories with a high intensity leg workout. so lowering my resting heart rate and max heart rate bumped up my calorie expenditure. from yesterdays chest workout (rest:49, max:151, VO2:57), those values would have put any leg workout well over 1000 calories. so it looks like a higher VO2 would have estimated burning more calories as well. about all i can do now is find out if VO2 peak from the O2 test software is the same value required by the heart rate monitor for VO2 max ... or if its the estimated value from the software.
hmm ... so caloric estimates from workout sessions seem far from reliable. i'm starting to think that the only way i'll get a decent guesstimate about how many calories i actually burn working out is to count calories, watch my bodyweight for a couple more months, and make a guess based off of the O2 test results for how many calories i would burn a day at rest. from the months of weight loss, my current guess would be that i burn an additional 500 to 750 calories each workout. but the real test will be if those numbers match up when i'm trying to add weight.