Sunday, April 14, 2024

VO₂ max


  1. Introduction
  2. What’s VO₂ max?
  3. Why is VO₂ max essential? 
  4. What’s the VO₂ max formulation? 
  5. The best way to measure VO₂ max
  6. What is an effective VO₂ max?
  7. VO₂ max normative knowledge
  8. The best way to improve VO₂ max
  9. Conclusion


Sport and train scientists use the time period VO₂ max to find out cardiovascular health. VO₂ max permits us to quantify cardio health by calculating maximal oxygen uptake throughout cardio exercise, often by operating on a treadmill or biking on a cycle ergometer.

What’s VO₂ max?

VO2 max, or maximal oxygen consumption, refers back to the most quantity of oxygen that a person can utilise throughout intense or maximal train. In different phrases, VO₂ max refers back to the most quantity of oxygen your physique can take in and use throughout train.

VO₂ max is like our physique’s model of an engine in a automotive. A bigger engine can usually burn extra gasoline and produce extra energy. Equally, a better VO₂ max permits the physique to utilise extra vitality and have a bigger cardio capability. 

Let’s take a look at the time period VO₂ max (or V̇O₂ max) and break it down:

  • ‘V̇’ stands for price of quantity over time (as indicated by the  ̇). Typically written with ‘V’ as a substitute.
  • ‘O₂’ stands for oxygen 
  • ‘max’ stands for optimum.

Put these phrases collectively and we get one thing alongside the traces of ‘most quantity of oxygen uptake’ – primarily VO₂ max is the utmost quantity of oxygen our physique can eat and utilise and it’s usually thought of one of the best indicator of cardiovascular health and cardio endurance.

Why is VO₂ max essential?

Once we train arduous, there may be an elevated demand for oxygen in our muscle tissues. Subsequently, the extra oxygen we are able to eat and utilise, the better the train feels to our physique. VO₂ max is measured in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of physique weight per minute and is shortened to ml·kg-1·min-1.

Historical past of VO₂ max

British physiologist Archibald Vivian Hill is recognised as a pioneer with regards to VO₂ max. Within the Nineteen Twenties, Hill and colleagues started a sequence of experiments that collected air samples and analysed oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations whereas topics exercised (1). From these experiments, they found there was a relationship between train depth and oxygen consumption (2). 

Within the Nineteen Fifties, analysis by Henry Taylor and colleagues additional established acceptable protocols for measuring VO₂ max (3). Through the Nineteen Sixties, normative knowledge printed by Per-Olof Åstrand, and Bengt Saltin confirmed VO₂ max knowledge throughout a variety of sports activities – there was a big relationship between high-level endurance efficiency and excessive VO₂ max from the normative knowledge collected (4). From this level on, it grew to become clear a better VO₂ max represented a better stage of cardio health. 

What’s the VO₂ max formulation?

VO₂ max was historically measured utilizing Douglas luggage, nonetheless oblique calorimetry is the popular methodology these days (5).

The Fick precept states that the quantity of O₂ consumed by the physique (VO₂) is the same as the quantity of O₂ leaving the lungs (Q̇T)(CaO₂) minus the quantity of O₂ returning to the lungs (Q̇T)(Cv̄O₂) and is calculated as follows:

V̇O₂ = (Q̇T)(CaO₂) – (Q̇T)(Cv̄O₂) = Q̇T(CaO₂ – Cv̄O₂)

This formulation is utilized by the algorithm within the programme which runs the breath-by-breath gasoline analyser to calculate VO₂ max (6).

The best way to Measure VO₂ max

A VO₂ max check is the gold customary check for measuring oxygen uptake because it immediately measures physique oxygen consumption. Many different checks estimate VO₂ max, whereas a VO₂ max check supplies an correct VO₂ max. Theoretically, the check may be carried out utilizing any train mode, however it’s usually carried out on a treadmill or biking ergometer. Nonetheless, utilizing essentially the most particular mode for the athlete and their sport is often the most suitable choice. For instance, it could make extra sense for a rower to carry out the check on a rowing machine slightly than a treadmill, if it was out there. 

All through the check, the participant wears a fitted masks, which is related to a gasoline analysing machine. This machine measures the quantity of oxygen being inhaled and exhaled. Through the check, the train depth will steadily improve till the athlete stops or till their oxygen consumption plateaus. If oxygen consumption plateaus, it signifies the participant is not utilizing oxygen to interrupt down vitality and as a substitute is counting on anaerobic (with out oxygen) metabolism. 

It’s value noting a VO₂ max check is a maximal check that requires an acceptable stage of health. Subsequently, warning should be taken whether it is getting used with leisure exercisers or individuals with underlying well being points. See the next for a video of a VO₂ max check being carried out.

What is an effective VO₂ max?

A relative VO₂ max is expressed in millilitres per kilogram per minute (ml·kg-1·min-1). In line with the American School of Sports activities Medication (2014), the common for a 20–29 year-old feminine is 38 ml·kg-1·min-1, whereas it’s 44 ml·kg-1·min-1 for a 20–29 year-old male (7). Utilizing the feminine common for instance, a results of 38 ml·kg-1·min-1 means there are 38 millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of physique weight being utilised per minute. To be within the 90th percentile, a VO₂ max of 47 ml·kg-1·min-1 for a feminine and 54 ml·kg-1·min-1 for a male is required. 

Cardio capability is required for a lot of sports activities, however some sports activities have a better demand than others. Knowledge collected by David Nieman (introduced within the NSCA Necessities of Power Coaching and Conditioning) illustrates VO₂ max tips based mostly on the game (8). For instance, energy sports activities like shot put, javelin, discus throw, and Olympic weightlifting don’t have a excessive demand for cardio capability. Subsequently, the common VO₂ max listed earlier could suffice for these sports activities. Courtroom sports activities like basketball, volleyball, and tennis are very a lot anaerobic sports activities however do require some cardio capability, so an above-average VO₂ max is required. Subsequently, a VO₂ max of 44-48 ml·kg-1·min-1 for females and 52-56 ml·kg-1·min-1 for males is advisable. 

Sports activities like soccer require a excessive VO₂ max and it is strongly recommended for females to have a VO₂ max of 49-53 ml·kg-1·min-1 and 57-62 ml·kg-1·min-1 for males. Sports activities like long-distance operating, snowboarding, and biking are closely reliant on cardio capability. Subsequently, it is strongly recommended that feminine athletes have a V̇O₂ max of 60+ and male athletes 70+. 

What’s the highest ever recorded V̇O₂ max?

In March 2010, a 15-year-old Swedish boy named Oskar Svendsen, who had transitioned into biking from snowboarding, was attempting out for the biking program in his native highschool and took half within the required VO₂ max check. He recorded a powerful 74.6 ml·kg-1·min-1. Svendsen had solely simply transitioned into biking and his earlier snowboarding coaching consisted of 1 to 2 exercises per week. To file such a excessive worth, as a nearly untrained 15-year-old, highlighted his unimaginable potential. It additionally highlighted how a lot of a task genetics performs in cardio capability. 

Quick ahead to August 27, 2012, the now 18-year-old Svendsen would take the crown of the ‘best oxygen consumer’ from Dæhlie, recording the very best ever recorded V̇O₂ max of 96.7 ml·kg-1·min-1. Not like Dæhlie, Svendsen’s VO₂ max has been talked about in scientific literature. The truth is, he was used as a case examine in a scientific printed paper (9). The paper referenced how in simply three years of devoted coaching, he went from a person with little cardio coaching publicity, to a junior champion time trial bike owner. Sadly, the paper additionally talked about with 15 months of detraining, his VO₂ max returned to 77 ml·kg-1·min-1, as a result of after two years after turning into a junior world champion, Svendsen give up biking. 

It’s reported Svendsen went again to college to review psychology. Nonetheless, his unimaginable VO₂ max continues to be known as the very best ever recorded. The next desk is a timeframe of Svendsen’s VO₂ max is referenced within the printed case examine paper (9). It’s value noting how excessive his VO₂ max naturally was with out coaching but additionally how a lot increased it bought with coaching. 

Desk 1. Oskar Svendsen Reported VO₂ max Testing Historical past (7)

Yr Month VO₂ max (ml·kg-1·min-1) Remark
2010 22nd March  74.6 Choice check
2010 23rd April 83.4
2011 16th February 86.8
2011 6th September  85.1
2012 27th August 2012  96.7 Highest recorded
2012 2nd December 92.8
2013 28th November 86.5
2015 30th October  77.0 15 months detraining

Various Cardio Checks

The VO₂ max check is the gold customary, offering an correct results of maximal cardio capability. Nonetheless, it’s comparatively time-consuming and costly to conduct. Subsequently, there have been many different cardio checks developed which can be extra sensible, cheaper, and time environment friendly. You will need to perceive these various checks solely present an estimation of a VO₂ max based mostly on the check consequence. 

Checks such because the Bruce Protocol Stress Check, the Astrand Treadmill Check, and the Vmax Check are just a few options to the VO₂ max check. These checks require the athlete to progressively train till voluntary exhaustion with out requiring the flowery gear utilized in VO₂ max check. The ultimate values on these checks are then inputted right into a predictive equation to offer an estimation of VO₂ max. Though they’re a less expensive various, they don’t seem to be immediately measuring VO₂ max and warning should be taken when deciphering outcomes. 

For subject sports activities, value and time-efficient checks such because the Beep Check, the Yo-Yo Intermittent Restoration Check, and the 30-15 Intermittent Health Check are sometimes used to measure cardio capability. These checks require the athlete to run repeated bouts of shuttle runs to voluntary exhaustion, then the athlete’s worth is imputed right into a predictive VO₂ max equation and an estimated VO₂ max is supplied. Sadly, there may be inconclusive analysis on the accuracy of predictive VO₂ max equations for these checks. 

Analysis from Magee et al. (2021) discovered 4 generally used predictive equations for the Beep Check overestimated VO₂ max (10). Curiously, the researchers did discover the Ramsbottom and Flouris equations could present a detailed estimate of VO₂ max. Analysis from Yiannis et al. (2020) discovered that V̇O₂ max estimated in a Yo-Yo Check equation was considerably totally different to the precise VO₂ max measured within the laboratory (11). There’s some proof by Stankovic et al. (2021) that the 30-15 Intermittent Health Check can present an correct estimation of VO₂ max. Nonetheless, the authors of this systematic overview did word there was an inadequate lack of research evaluating the estimated VO₂ max to an precise VO₂ max recorded within the laboratory (12). 

Smartwatches and cellular apps now usually present VO₂ max, however are these VO₂ max readings correct? Analysis from Synder et al. (2021) discovered the favored Polar V800 to offer random errors of as much as 16.4 ml·kg-1·min-1 for VO₂ max prediction (13). The researchers did discover the Garmin Forerunner 230 to be barely extra correct, nevertheless it did constantly overestimate VO₂ max. Earlier analysis from Passler et al. (2019) discovered the Garmin Forerunner 920XT and the Garmin Vivosmart HR failed to indicate legitimate leads to estimating VO₂ max (14). 

For Fitbit lovers, analysis from Quickly Bin Kwon et al. (2019) confirmed that Fitbits solely supplied a reasonable estimation of VO₂ max (15). Among the analysis has proposed that the heart-rate measurements obtained for the wrist sensors are inaccurate, due to this fact resulting in an inaccurate VO₂ max prediction. Let’s keep in mind a cellphone app or a watch isn’t related to your lungs, whereas an oxygen masks utilized in a VO₂ max check is.

VO₂ max normative knowledge

Following ample screening and testing tips ought to guarantee people are protected to participate in maximal testing. To make sure athlete improvement is acceptable, VO₂ max testing can inform programming to develop cardio capability.

Desk 2. Percentile values for maximal oxygen uptake (ml·kg-1·min-1) (7).

The best way to improve VO₂ max

You will need to perceive that VO₂ max is essentially decided by genetics, intercourse, and age. Analysis by Williams et al. (2017) means that VO₂ max trainability is roughly 50% decided by genetics (16). There’s additionally a intercourse distinction related to cardio capability, although that is much less a intercourse distinction and extra a distinction within the capability of physiology and coaching standing, as demonstrated by elite feminine athletes and their considerably increased VO₂ max than most males (17). 

So although there’s a important distinction in VO₂ capability between men and women, that is small when in comparison with different elements akin to the scale of the oxygen transport system and lean muscle mass (18). Age additionally impacts VO₂ max – Hawkins and Wiswell (2013) have proven that after the age of 25, VO₂ max decreases by round 10% per decade (19). 

So, if genetics, intercourse, and age play a big position in cardio capability, is coaching to enhance VO₂ max a waste of time?  That is debatable. Let’s take a look at Svendsen once more. After embarking on his biking profession, his VO₂ max elevated from 74.6 to 96.7 ml·kg-1·min-1. After 15 months of detraining, his VO₂ max returned to 77 ml·kg-1·min-1, similar to earlier than he began biking. This illustrates regardless of having unimaginable genetics, VO₂ max is considerably changeable with coaching. Genetics would possibly restrict cardio capability however with out coaching, an athlete isn’t going to succeed in their restrict.

Enhancing  endurance:  VO₂ max isn’t all the pieces

It’s value noting that even in endurance-based sports activities, different elements akin to lactate threshold and train financial system are equally or maybe much more essential than VO₂ max. In his e book ‘The Science of Operating’, famend creator Steve Magness supplies examples of dramatic enhancements in efficiency by world file holders and Olympic champions, regardless of little to alter of their VO₂ max (20). Modifications in train financial system or lactate threshold is perhaps believable explanations for the enhancements. 

First, let’s talk about train financial system. Train financial system is how a lot oxygen our physique must train (run, cycle, swim, row and many others.) at a specific tempo. Let’s use two marathon runners for instance. Each are operating on the identical tempo however Runner A has a better train financial system than Runner B. Runner A is extra economical with oxygen and might do greater than Runner B with the identical quantity of oxygen. Subsequently, Runner A will have the ability to maintain the tempo for longer than Runner B virtually making certain Runner A’s success.

Lactate threshold is the purpose at which blood lactate ranges improve above resting ranges. Having a better lactate threshold will enable an athlete to train at a better depth for longer. Once more, throughout any race, that is important to enhance total time and attainable medal competition.

There are numerous several types of cardio coaching used at present. There’s typically a lot debate about which type of coaching is greatest to extend VO₂ max, with a meta-analysis by Milanovic et al. (2015) discovering each conventional endurance coaching and interval each can enhance VO₂ max (21). Conventional cardio coaching is usually known as Lengthy, Gradual Distance (LSD) coaching. LSD is a technique utilized in endurance coaching. One of these coaching is roughly half-hour+ in length at a tempo of roughly 70 % of VO₂ max or 80 % of most coronary heart price (HRmax). The tempo is comparatively simple and due to this fact this coaching methodology is totally cardio. Constructing this cardio base will assist the physique change into extra environment friendly at utilizing oxygen and restoration throughout extra intense endurance coaching strategies. 

Interval coaching is a extra intense coaching methodology typically aimed to extend VO₂ max. Interval coaching contains of work-to-rest intervals. Work intervals needs to be near VO₂ max and final 3-5 minutes. It takes no less than two minutes to succeed in your VO₂ max, so this time vary exposes the physique to work at this excessive depth. Intervals longer than 5 minutes will trigger an excessive amount of fatigue and train type could deplete. The remaining intervals are usually the identical time because the work intervals, permitting the physique an opportunity to recuperate earlier than the following work interval. Pointers for LSD and Interval coaching had been taken from the NSCA Necessities of Power Coaching and Conditioning (22). 


A better VO₂ max is definitely essential for profitable efficiency in endurance sports activities. However even in endurance-based sports activities, different elements like lactate threshold and train financial system could also be equally or much more essential than VO₂ max. Having a excessive VO₂ max definitely helps however doesn’t totally assure success both. Let’s not overlook Svendsen, and the way there may be greater than only one ingredient wanted for achievement on the prime stage. 

For a lot of subject and court docket sports activities, enough cardio capability performs a vital position in success, too. It’s no shock to see many sports activities embrace cardio testing batteries and coaching packages. However don’t overlook, these subject checks don’t measure VO₂ max, they only present an estimation! So subsequent time somebody asks you the way aerobically match you’re, you now know methods to reply, and even in case you don’t know your personal VO₂ max, hopefully you’ll be able to clarify what VO₂ max is. 

  1. Hill AV,  Lengthy CNH, and Lupton H. (1924). Muscular train, lactic acid, and the provision and utilisation of oxygen.—Elements IV-VI. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 97(618): 84–138. [Link]
  2. Beltz, N. M., Gibson, A. L., Janot, J. M., Kravitz, L., Mermier, C. M., & Dalleck, L. C. (2016). Graded Train Testing Protocols for the Dedication of V̇O₂ max: Historic Views, Progress, and Future Concerns. Journal of sports activities drugs (Hindawi Publishing Company),  3968393. [Link]
  3. Taylor HL, Buskirk E, and Henschel A. (1955). Maximal Oxygen Consumption as an Goal Measure of Cardio-Respiratory Efficiency. Journal of Utilized Physiology, 8(1): 73-80. [Link]
  4. Saltin B, and Astrand PO. (1967). Maximal oxygen uptake in athletes. Journal of Utilized Physiology, 23(3): 353-358. [Link]
  5. Beltz NM, Gibson AL, Janot JM, Kravitz L, Mermier CM, and Dalleck LC (2016). Graded Train Testing Protocols for the Dedication of VO2max: Historic Views, Progress, and Future Concerns. Journal of sports activities drugs (Hindawi Publishing Company), 2016, 3968393. [Link]
  6. Wilson WC, and Benumof JL. Chapter 5 – Physiology of the Airway, Carin A. Hagberg CA (Editor). W.B. Saunders WB. (2013) Benumof and Hagberg’s Airway Administration (Third Version). Pages 118-158. [Link]
  7. ASCM. (2014). ASCM’s Guideline for Train testing and Prescription. ninth version. Lippincott WIlliams & Wilkins: Baltimore, USA. [Link]
  8. Nieman DC. (1995). Health and Sports activities Medication. third Version. Paolo Alto, CA: Bull. [Link]
  9. Rønnestad BR, Hansen J, Stensløkken L, Joyner MJ, and Lundby C. (2019). Case Research in Physiology: Temporal adjustments in determinants of cardio efficiency in particular person going from alpine skier to world junior champion time trial bike owner. Journal of utilized physiology (Bethesda, Md. : 1985), 127(2), 306–311. [Link]
  10. Magee MK, White JB, Merrigan JJ, Jones MT. (2021). Does the Multistage 20-m Shuttle Run Check Precisely Predict VO2max in NCAA Division I Girls Collegiate Area Hockey Athletes? Sports activities. 9(6): 75. [Link]
  11. Yiannis M, Chavlis S, Mitrotasios M, Ispirlidis I, Vardakis L, Margonis Okay, Mikikis D, Mandroukas A, Mavrommatis G, Metaxas T. (2020). The usage of Yo-Yo intermittent restoration check stage 1 for the estimation of maximal oxygen uptake in youth elite soccer gamers. TRENDS in Sport Sciences, 27(3): 167-173. [Link]
  12. Stanković M, Gušić M, Nikolić S, Barišić V, Krakan I, Sporiš G, Mikulić I, Trajković N. (2021). 30–15 Intermittent Health Check: A Systematic Overview of Research, Inspecting the VO2max Estimation and Coaching Programming. Utilized Sciences. 11(24): 11792. [Link]
  13. Snyder NC, Willoughby CA, Smith BK. (2021). Comparability of the Polar V800 and the Garmin Forerunner 230 to Predict V̇o2max. Journal of Power and Conditioning Analysis 35(5): 1403-1409. [Link]
  14. Passler S, Bohrer J, Blöchinger L, Senner V. (2019). Validity of Wrist-Worn Exercise Trackers for Estimating VO2max and Vitality Expenditure. Worldwide Journal of Environmental Analysis and Public Well being. 16(17): 3037. [Link]
  15. Kwon SB, Ahn JW, Lee SM, Lee J, Lee D, Hong J, Kim HC, and Yoon HJ. (2019). Estimating Maximal Oxygen Uptake From Each day Exercise Knowledge Measured by a Watch-Sort Health Tracker: Cross-Sectional Research. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 7(6), e13327. [Link]
  16. Williams CJ, Williams MG, Eynon N, Ashton KJ, Little JP, Wisloff U, and Coombes JS. (2017). Genes to foretell VO2max trainability: a scientific overview. BMC genomics, 18(8): 831. [Link]
  17. Santisteban KJ, Lovering AT, Halliwill JR, and Minson CT. (2022). Intercourse Variations in VO2max and the Influence on Endurance-Train Efficiency. Worldwide journal of environmental analysis and public well being, 19(9): 4946. [Link]
  18. Cureton, Okay., Bishop, P., Hutchinson, P., Newland, H., Vickery, S., & Zwiren, L. (1986). Intercourse distinction in maximal oxygen uptake. Impact of equating haemoglobin focus. European journal of utilized physiology and occupational physiology, 54(6): 656–660. [Link]
  19. Hawkins S, and Wiswell R. (2003). Price and mechanism of maximal oxygen consumption decline with growing old: implications for train coaching. Sports activities drugs (Auckland, N.Z.), 33(12): 877–888. [Link]
  20. Magness S. (2014). The Science of Operating: The best way to Discover Your Restrict and Prepare to Maximize Your Efficiency. San Rafael, CA : Origin Press. [Link]
  21. Milanović Z, Sporiš G, and Weston M. (2015). Effectiveness of Excessive-Depth Interval Coaching (HIT) and Steady Endurance Coaching for VO2max Enhancements: A Systematic Overview and Meta-Evaluation of Managed Trials. Sports activities drugs (Auckland, N.Z.), 45(10), 1469–1481. [Link]
  22. Baechle TR, Earle RW, and Nationwide Power & Conditioning Affiliation. (2008) Necessities of energy coaching and conditioning. third edn. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics. [Link]

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest Articles