VO2 Max charts are an incredibly helpful tool when it comes to measuring your aerobic and endurance capabilities. However, many runners and athletes are unable to fully utilize this data because they don’t fully understand vo2max, or know how to determine their own V02 max.
You may have seen “VO2 Max” stats displayed on your Garmin or Apple Watch, or see it used in various ways in your training plan. While the term itself might look a bit foreign at first glance, its meaning is actually fairly straightforward.
Let’s dive in to exactly what the term represents, and check out some V02 Max Charts that will help identify a good vo2max for your age and fitness level.
VO2 Max Charts and Info:
- What is VO2 max?
- Why is V02 max important?
- What is a good V02 max?
- VO2 Max Charts (by Gender & Age)
- How to Calculate V02 Max
- How to Improve VO2 Max
What is V02 Max?
Before we can fully utilize any VO2 Max charts, we’ll need to understand exactly what the numbers represent. Luckily, the meaning vo2 max is surprisingly straightforward.
VO2 Max describes the maximum volume of oxygen that someone can use during exercise. When broken down, VO2 Max stands for:
- V = volume (mL/kg/min)
- O2 = oxygen (oxygen derived from the air)
- Max = maximum (highest capacity)
The abbreviation vo2max refers to exactly what is stands for: maximum volume of oxygen.
Why is VO2 Max Important?
In short, the higher the volume of oxygen you are able to use, the higher your capacity for exercise and endurance activities. Running faster, working harder and simply performing more efficiently all require more oxygen. The more oxygen your body is capable of using, the greater your fitness potential.
Another reason VO2 max is so important is because it provides a helpful way to gauge your performance and monitor improvements. VO2 Max charts are helpful when it comes to finding a goal range or number you wish to target during your training.
What is a good VO2 max?
A “good” VO2 max differs from person to person. Various factors influence V02 max, and some of them are permanent. Factors such as genetics, gender and age are set in stone for all of us. However, we have the power to control our training quality and quantity, thus improving our aerobic capacity.
These vo2max charts provide helpful guidance for all people – whether sedentary, recreational or elite athletes. The charts are broken down by age and gender, and provide a target range for VO2 max in each of the categories.
Here are the average “good” values based on the VO2 Max charts:
- Men: 40 – 50 (mL/kg/min)
- Women: 35 – 45 (mL/kg/min)
These numbers provide a very general guideline. Each method of calculation varies slightly, along with each interpretation of the values. These “good” V02 Max values are simply the average of various different charts and interpretations of what a healthy oxygen usage would be.
V02 Max Charts
These VO2 max charts provide a helpful guideline to use during training or any health/fitness journey. Whether you’re training for a specific goal or simply trying to monitor your health, understanding your V02 max will provide valuable information about your current capabilities and health.
Men’s V02 Max Chart: by Age
Women’s V02 Max Chart: by Age
How to Calculate VO2 Max
In order to use the VO2 max charts, you’ll need to know your own vo2max. If you don’t have a watch or heart rate monitor that calculates your v02 max, you’ll need to learn to calculate it on your own.
Luckily, there are a few simple formulas you can use to calculate your own VO2 max. These formulas certainly don’t provide the same level of accuracy as a heart rate monitor with consistent, regular data, but they provide an easy way to get a ballpark estimate of your V02 max.
For this method of v02 max calculation, you’ll need to know your maximum heart rate. Here are two easy ways to calculate each:
- Max heart rate (MHR) = 220 – your age
- Resting heart rate (RHR) = the number of beats in a minute at rest
To determine max heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, if you are 40 years old, you can estimate your maximum heart rate by subtracting 40 from 220. Therefore your MHR calculation would be 220 – 40 = 180.
To determine resting heart rate, count the number of times your heart beats in one minute while resting and relaxing. Remember that each of these calculations provide an estimate of these numbers. To determine a more accurate representation, you’ll want to use a heart rate monitor for a number of days to accumulate data.
However, these estimates provide us with the data we need to for a vO2 max calculation, which will allow us to use the V02 max charts.
VO2 Max Calculation:
- VO2 Max = 15.3 x (MHR/RHR)
Simply divide your maximum heart rate by your resting heart rate, and then multiply by 15.3.
Take your answer to the vo2max charts to determine whether your VO2 max is good, poor or excellent.
How to Improve V02 Max
Once you’ve got your data, its time to interpret the VO2 max charts using your own numbers.
Whether you’d simply like to improve your overall health or are hoping to increase your athletic output during training, you’ll need to improve your V02 max.
What’s the best way to increase VO2 Max?
HIIT workouts. High intensity interval training is the most efficient, effective way to improve your VO2 max. Pushing your body to max intensity works your cardiovascular system and forces your body to be as efficient as possible with oxygen.
The more often you increase the intensity, the more quickly your body adapts.
There are a variety of HIIT workouts that you can try at the gym or even right at home. Some of the most effective HIIT workouts require nothing other than your own bodyweight. If cross training at home or the gym doesn’t sound too appealing, you can easily incorporate intervals on the run.
VO2 max might sound like a fancy statistic that only serious athletes take in to consideration. However, once we understand the meaning behind the term, it’s easy to see that just about anyone can benefit from understanding their body’s own vo2max.