You have probably heard the term VO2max before. It may sound like some creepy mathematical equation, but don't worry, it's actually not rocket science. It is a concept that is composed of three indicators:
- V = volume
- O2 = oxygen
- Max = maximum value
So, VO2max is the maximum amount of oxygen that your body can effectively use during 1 minute of physical activity. It is measured in milliliters per kilogram of body weight per minute.
How to find out the VO2max value?
There are several methods that can help you find out your VO2max. You can bet on accurate laboratory measurements, sports watches, or use several sports formulas.
1) Measurement of VO2max
- Laboratory stress test - This is the most accurate method, where you are exposed to a gradually increasing activity for 10-12 minutes. Most of the time you run on a treadmill (or ride a stationary bike) and wear a chest strap that measures your heart rate + a breathing mask. For the test you have to go to the sports centers, laboratories or specialized stores and you will pay at least 40 EUR for it.
- Sports testers - Nowadays, almost everyone has sports watches or bracelets on their wrist that can calculate the VO2max value during activity. This is a less accurate method, so take the results as indicative. The more activities you measure, the more data you will have and the more accurate your VO2Max value will be. You can compare your values, monitor the current status, and always have them with you on your device.
Top4Running TIP: Get the most out of sports watches and their measurements! Pair them with your phone, download the running app, and have all the data and statistics on your mobile.
2) VO2max calculations
You can calculate your values on your own with the help of formulas. All you need is a running track, good running shoes, and a little bit of math. What are the options?
- Cooper's test - Just 12 minutes of running on a flat surface and that's it. Put your distance (meters) into the formula: VO2max = (your distance in meters – 504,9) / 44.73 and you will get your oxygen consumption value.
- Balke test - Your task is to run as far as possible in 15 minutes. Put the distance in meters into the formula: VO2max = 172 x (your distance in meters / 15 – 133) + 33,3.
For calculations, do not forget the mathematical rules (brackets, priority of division, and multiplication). Alternatively, there are also online calculators on the Internet.
TIP: For running tests on the track, spread out your strength and try to run at a consistent pace throughout. Don't overdo the beginning, so you don't get stiff after a few minutes.
Ok, you know your value, now what? Find it in the table, which is divided by age and gender.
How to increase VO2max?
Did you get a value in the table that you are not satisfied with? Don't lose heart, we have tips for you on how to improve your VO2Max value. The basis is:
To increase the VO2max value, you need to get into the uncomfortable oxygen zone = train in the anaerobic zone. It's not about destroying yourself during every training session, but at least getting a little breathless. There are many variations of interval training and you can practice them outside or in the gym!
- Running training - intervals, hill runs, sprints, fartlek
- Exercises - HIIT (high-intensity interval training), Tabata, circuit training
But you can also ride a bike, walk in the mountains or play football. Find an activity that you enjoy and exercise your lungs.
Top4Running TIP: Do you want to improve your VO2max during running and don't know how? Read how to start running and make running a habit you'll love!
VO2max and children
In the table above are counted only people over the age of 20. And what about children? For children, it is recommended to use accurate measurements in the laboratory. With kids' measurements, there is a greater dispersion of values and the measured data do not match the tables. In addition, an expert at the center will provide a consultation regarding the child's physical condition with possible recommendations to improve fitness.
VO2max is valuable for everybody, not only for active athletes. Knowing this value is suitable for anyone who is interested in a healthy and active lifestyle - you can prevent cardiovascular diseases and keep yourself fit. Just add more walking, take the stairs instead of the escalators, or get off one stop earlier on the way home. Good feeling and better condition guaranteed!