What is VO₂ Max, and Why Should You Track It?

What is VO₂ Max, and Why Should You Track It?

If you’re active in the world of endurance sports, you’re likely to be aware of VO₂ Max. However, if you’re a novice to training or you’re brand new to health and fitness in general, you’ve probably never even heard of VO₂ Max– let alone why it’s important. 

To give you the lowdown, here we’re exploring what VO₂ Max is and why you should track it. Let’s get started!

What is VO₂ Max?

VO₂ Max is also known as your maximum oxygen intake. It refers to how much oxygen your body has the ability to absorb and use during exercise. Therefore, VO₂ Max is important for aerobic exercise where endurance is essential.

More specifically, VO₂ Max means the maximum oxygen rate (V) (O₂). The greater the amount of oxygen your body can consume and transform into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which powers your cells, the better your physical performance.

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How is VO₂ Max tracked?

VO₂ Max is measured by either a doctor, cardiologist, exercise physiotherapist, or other medical or fitness specialists. In other words, you’re generally not able to measure VO₂ Max on your own.

With a medical professional, you’ll undergo a submaximal exercise test. For trained athletes with a high level of physical fitness, your test will include:

  • Astrand treadmill test
  • 2.4 km run test
  • Multistage bleep test

However, if you have a lower level of physical fitness, your submaximal test will include:

  • Cooper 1.5-mile walk/run test
  • Treadmill test
  • Data comparisons to average results

VO₂ Max is measured in mL/kg/min which is the milliliters (mL) of oxygen divided by your weight in kilograms (kg) per minute.

It’s also important to keep in mind that VO₂ Max is affected by:

  • Your age
  • Your gender
  • Altitude
  • Level of fitness

In other words, there’s really no such thing as a “good” VO₂ Max. Everyone’s measurements will be different, and there’s not a one-size-fits-all number. However, the average VO₂ Max based on gender, age, and activity level is outlined in the table below.

Why should we track VO₂ Max?

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If you’re an endurance athlete, VO₂ Max is definitely something you should track. As you keep tabs on your VO₂ Max, you can work to improve your numbers and improve in your sport.

However, even if you’re not an endurance athlete, measuring VO₂ Max is still a good idea. When you improve your VO₂ Max, you’ll:

  • Feel less exhausted and less winded
  • Reduce stress
  • Boost your immune system

Tips to Increase VO₂ Max

So, now that we know why VO₂ Max is important, how can we increase our levels to improve performance? Here are a few tips.

Perform HIIT Training

HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training. HIIT training refers to switching between periods of intense exercise and short periods of rest. 

HIIT is effective in improving VO₂ Max since your body is training itself to recover quickly, improving your cardio fitness and ability to take in oxygen effectively.

Switch Between Aerobic Exercises

Similar to how one might train for a marathon, you can increase your VO₂ Max by switching between aerobic exercises like running, swimming, and cycling within a single session, taking rests between each activity.

Again, by switching up the exercise style within a single session and taking short breaks in between, you’re training your body to absorb oxygen effectively.

Add an OOMPH Lifestyle

The OOMPH lifestyle is all about unleashing your inner champion through effective workouts and trainer-led programs that can help boost your VO₂ Max. 

Our kickboxing, booty, and bodyweight workouts and variety of other HIIT-style programs can help you breathe easier, feel less winded throughout the day, and add some real OOMPH to your health and fitness.

Download the OOMPH app today, where you can do your HIIT workouts from anywhere, anytime. Improve your VO₂ Max today!


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