July 16, 2021
4 min read
The higher your VO2 max, the more energy you’re giving your cells. Learn how to calculate your VO2 max, plus tips for increasing it!
Your body is like a machine. A few tune-ups in the right places can help you go farther and faster with the same amount of energy. While you might already track your macros and watch your heart rate, there’s another metric that needs to be on your radar, too: VO2 max.
VO2 max is a measurement of how efficiently your body uses oxygen while you work out. Keep in mind that VO2 looks at how much oxygen you’re using during your workout, not before or after.
Now that you know your current VO2 max, here are your next steps to improve it:
1. Pick a Workout Plan
HIIT or cardio training is the best way to improve your VO2 max. High-intensity interval training is like weightlifting for your heart and lungs—you’re training your body to consume oxygen more efficiently. Following a well-designed program will help you reach your goals faster.
2. Calculate Your Macros
Give your body the right fuel to reach your goals! The Bodybuilding.com Macronutrient Calculator will give you a daily target for not only protein, but also carbohydrates, dietary fats, and calories.
3. Learn About the Best Supplements for Your Goals
Supplements can help you accelerate your results once you have your training, calories, and protein intake nailed down. Krissy Kendall, Ph.D., shares her recommendations for boosting cardio performance in the article, “The Top 7 Endurance Supplements.”
4. Join a Fitness Community
It’s hard to reach your fitness goals solo. That’s why, for over 10 years, members of BodySpace have been helping each other build their best bodies and stay accountable to their goals. Join the world’s strongest fitness community!
What are the benefits of calculating VO2 max?
When you work out, your body converts the oxygen you breathe into energy (ATP) that powers your cells. The higher your VO2 max, the more oxygen you’re giving to your cells. That means you’re pumping more fuel into your body with every breath, which gives you a leg up with oxygen-intensive workouts like running and weightlifting.
Calculating and tracking your VO2 max can help you improve your athletic performance by using it as a benchmark to track your progress. VO2 max is also a measurable sign of aging. Did you know that your VO2 max naturally declines as you age? While you can’t stop aging, research has shown that the age-related VO2 max decrease occurs half as fast for people who regularly do endurance exercise compared to those who don’t.
How do I calculate my VO2 max?
The challenge with VO2 max is that it’s hard to measure with 100 percent accuracy outside of a lab. Elite athletes test their VO2 max with an oxygen mask, heart rate monitor, treadmill, and professional setup.
Fortunately, there’s no need to buy expensive tests or equipment to get a reasonably accurate estimate. Our VO2 max calculator is based on the classic “Cooper Test” created by Dr. Kenneth Cooper. Use a timer or fitness tracker to record how long it takes you to complete a 1.5-mile run, then simply plug your time into our tracker to calculate your VO2 max.
What is a good VO2 max?
Your VO2 max is measured by the milliliters of oxygen used per kilogram of body weight per minute. But there’s no universally “good” VO2 max.
Why? Because every body is different. Your ideal VO2 max depends on a number of things, including: your age, sex, activity level, and current elevation.
With that said, here are some examples of the range of VO2 max norms:
- Very poor: below 33
- Good: 42-46
- Superior: above 52
- Very poor: below 30
- Good: 39-44
- Superior: above 48
- Very poor: below 20
- Good: 32-36
- Superior: above 44
- Very poor: below 24
- Good: 33-37
- Superior: above 41
- Very poor: below 21
- Good: 29-33
- Superior: above 37
- Very poor: below 18
- Good: 24-30
- Superior: above 31
Get Systematic About Your Results
Once you understand how tracking your VO2 max can benefit your goals, it’s time to take the same kind of strategic approach to the rest of your training and nutrition. These popular calculators can help you dial in your plan!
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