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What is a good VO2Max Score?

Your VO2Max is a measure of your ability to deliver more oxygen to your working muscles and convert it to energy. A higher VO2Max is better, making endurance exercise easier and helps you recover more quickly. A higher VO2Max is also associated with better cycling and running performance, making it a crucial benchmark for competitive endurance athletes.

VO2Max extends beyond just performance and is a strong predictor for longevity and health. Through a single value score, VO2Max captures the performance of your heart, lungs, muscles, and respiratory system, working both independently and in combination.

Understanding VO2Max can be tricky. A similar value can mean different things for different people. Therefore, making sense of VO2Max is personal as genetics, age, altitude, and gender are significant determinants of your VO2Max score.

How do you compare to the pros?

A VO2Max test performed in a physiological lab is the best way to know your VO2Max score, unlike your Garmin watch!. The test involves exercising on a treadmill or bike (or any piece of exercise equipment that can measure intensity) while wearing a breathing mask. The treadmill's speed or bike's intensity is increased until you reach exhaustion. Your body's ability to breath in and utilise oxygen defines your VO2Max and is measured in millilitres of oxygen per minute per kilogram (ml/kg/min).

Most competitive endurance athletes like cyclists, runners, triathletes, and cross-country (XC) skiers are known for their significantly higher VO2Max scores.

The tables below shows some of the highest recorded VO2Max values for females (table 1) and males (table 2).

But what is a good score?

Your VO2Max score is all relative to your age, genetics but mostly whether you are an endurance athlete or not. A good VO2Max value typically ranges between 32.3 - 50.9 mL/kg/min in men, while in women, the value ranges between 24.5 and 38.9 mL/kg/min. Younger individuals tend to have higher VO2Max values than older.

The VO2Max tables below (men and women) can help you estimate your condition and how efficient your oxygen intake is:

How to improve your VO2Max

To improve your VO2Max, a combination of high-intensity intervals and high volume endurance training is instrumental. Training increases your VO2Max; however, this increase will decline the more conditioned you become. Well-trained endurance athletes may be nearing or at their aerobic performance peaks, where specific VO2Max training will bring about less improvement, highlighting how performance in endurance sports is so much more important than VO2Max alone.

Is VO2Max the only important metric for endurance athletes?

Although VO2Max is a critical metric in athlete performance, its correlation to athletic success is only one part. Other factors like lactate threshold/anaerobic threshold running economy/cycling efficiency and body composition also play a critical role in endurance performance.

While VO2Max deals with efficient delivery of oxygen to peripheral tissues, facilitating energy provision to working muscles, running economy specifies the amount of oxygen (VO2) you consume at a particular running speed. A superior running economy means a lower VO2 per unit distance and a faster racing time. Excellent running economy may compensate for VO2Max limitations, even at levels where elite athletes may have reached their physiological boundaries.

On the other hand, lactate threshold is an exercise intensity where lactate begins to accumulate, i.e., the supply of oxygen cannot keep up with the demand. Beyond this level, your body produces energy anaerobically, making exercises unsustainable for long. Raising the lactate threshold to a higher level improves the overall athletic performance than VO2Max since it provides a better insight into how the muscles are using available oxygen i.e. how much power or speed you can sustain for an hour.

This is why a VO2Max test's goal goes far beyond just this value and looks at other important metrics that contribute to performance. For instance, a sub 2:40 marathon only requires a possible VO2Max of around 50-55!

A VO2Max test is used to establish your baseline fitness before beginning a training program and is also used to track your progress however, the data gathered during your VO2Max extends beyond just this value. Our testing also looks at your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, carbohydrate and fat burning, it establishes your training zones and much more. See the benefits of fitness testing.

How do you compare?

A good VO2 Max score is a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness that is closely linked to aerobic capacity. It is determined by the volume of oxygen your body can use during a maximum effort and is measured in millilitres per kilogram of body weight per minute (ml/kg/min). Your VO2 Max score can be used to compare your fitness level with other people in your age group.

To measure your VO2 Max, you should perform a max test or do a series of events that require you to use maximum effort for a long period of time. Box Nutrition offer VO2 Max tests. You can book your test now to get the most from your training and take your performance to the next level.

Once you have your score, you can compare it with a VO2 Max chart to see where you stand compared to other people in your age group. You can also use the chart to track your progress and set goals for improving your VO2 Max score. With regular exercise and a healthy diet, you will be able to improve your VO2 Max score over time and reach higher levels of fitness.


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