VO2 Max or Maximal Oxygen Consumption

By Justin C. Delicato PTA

What is V02 Max?

If you are used to performing high intensity workouts, then there is a chance you are aware of maximal oxygen consumption aka VO2 max. VO2 max is the measurement of a person’s maximum rate of oxygen consumption during intense exercise. The use of this measurement is to establish an individual’s aerobic capacity. Additionally, VO2 max is often used for athletes in training. As you breathe in oxygen, your lungs absorb it and turn it into energy. This energy powers your cells and releases carbon dioxide. This process allows your body to handle aerobic fitness activities at higher levels when training.

Man sprinting for VO2 max. JOI Rehab

VO2 Max

What is a Good VO2 Max?

  • Average sedentary male achieves a VO2 max of about 35 to 40 mL/kg/min.
  • Average sedentary female scores approximately 27 to 30 mL/kg/min
  • Age plays a central role in the average ranges, VO2 peaks at the age of 20 per research and decreases by 30% by age of 65+

Is VO2 a Health Indicator

VO2 max is the best indicator of cardiorespiratory fitness. Cardiorespiratory fitness is strongly related to longevity, health, quality of life and performance.

Woman rowing to find her vO2 Max. JOI Rehab

Rowing for VO2 Max

How is it calculated?

There are 5 different ways you can calculate your VO2 max at home. You will have to go online to access a VO2 calculator from a website to gain your score.

1. Resting Heart Rate Value- No physical activity required. Count your heartbeats per 20 seconds while resting, then place this value and age in an online calculator.

2. One-Mile Walk Test- Walking as quickly as you can, do not run. Stopwatch is in use from the time you start to the time you finish. Following the one-mile walk, immediately count your pulse per 10 seconds. Place this data in the online calculator as well as your age, weight and gender

3. Three Minutes Step Test- Stopwatch and metronome are required for this test. This test requires you to step up on a 16.25 inch step from ground level. Test is 3 mins in length, check your pulse following the 3 minutes for 15 seconds

4. 1.5 mile Walk or Run Test- Purpose of this test is to complete as fast as possible, running and walking are both allowed. Stopwatch is used to calculate the length of time to complete the distance

5. Indoor Rowing for 2000m- you will need access to an indoor rowing machine for this test. Rowing will be performed for 2000m and the length of time it takes to complete as well as your age and gender will be put into an online calculator to access your score

Why Would I want to Calculate my VO2 Max? 

VO2 Max is known for being the  best indicator of cardiorespiratory fitness or aerobic capacity.  Knowing your VO2 Max can be useful for:

  • Tracking your Fitness Goals
  • Improvement in Blood Circulation
  • Improvement in Cardiovascular Health
  • Can Help Reach Your Weight Loss Goals

Lastly, by knowing and monitoring your VO2 Max you enable yourself to improve your overall fitness as well as your oxygen consumption.

Written By: Justin C. Delicato PTA

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