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What is VO2Max and Why Is It Important For Running

The VO2Max is the maximum volume of oxygen one can utilise during intense exercise. It's a good indicator of aerobic fitness and it's used to measure how well your cardiovascular system functions. Although not the only thing that matters for running, a higher VO2Max will help you run faster for longer without tiring as quickly.

What is VO2MAX?

VO2Max is a measurement of the maximum volume of oxygen you can take in per minute. It's also sometimes called VO2 max, maximal oxygen uptake, maximal aerobic capacity, or aerobic power. VO2Max is a measure of physical fitness and is a key component of running performance . VO2Max will naturally increase as you train more, because when you work out, your cardiovascular system becomes stronger and more efficient.

Why is VO2Max important for running?

There are 4 areas of your VO2Max which can help with running performance:

  1. Increase in stroke volume: The heart can increase blood flow by increasing stroke volume, which is the amount of blood that leaves the heart from one heartbeat. More blood means more oxygen to your muscles.

  2. More capillaries: Increasing the number of capillaries around your working muscles enables you to increase the amount of oxygen you are able to take up into the muscles.

  3. Blood Oxygen-Carrying Capacity: Increasing the number of red blood cells will also increase your body's ability to carry oxygen.

  4. More mitochondria - Mitochondria are the power stations for energy in the muscles cells. By increasing mitochondria in the muscles, improves oxygen uptake and your ability to produce more energy.

How to calculate your VO2Max?

The only way to calculate your VO2Max accurately is through a VO2Max test. Your Garmin watch can estimate this number but it won't necessarily be very accurate. See >> Why your Garmin VO2Max is useless

The VO2Max test is done on a treadmill and the speed gradually increases until you can't continue. VO2Max, or "peak VO2" is measured in millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute (mL/kg/min). The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults should have VO2max scores of at least 40 mL/kg/min, VO2Max values between 35 to 39.99 mL/kg/min are considered fair and VO2Max less than 25mL is poor.

How to improve your VO2Max score

By targeting specific intensities through practices like High Intensity Interval (HIT) training and Long, Slow Distance (LSD) training you can improve your VO2Max score.

1 . Long Slow Distance Training

Long, slow distance training is a staple for any running programme to increase your VO2Max by cycling at about 60%–80% of your maximum heart rate for a steady and sustained period. These workouts contribute to increased capillary density around Type I muscle fibres, which enable you to use more oxygen.

Furthermore, your ability to take on more oxygen in these fibres encourages fatty acid usage as its primary fuel source and promotes improvements in body composition.

2. High Intensity Interval Training

The biggest determinant of VO2Max is cardiac output, or a combination of stroke volume (amount of blood you can pump) and heart rate (how quickly you can pump it). The more blood the heart pumps each minute, the more oxygen gets to the muscles and the faster/longer you will be able to run......

You can increase cardiac output by working the heart hard - cardiac remodelling (bigger, stronger, more pliable/stiffer). You can do this by adding some HIT training to your running schedule. By training at close to 90% of your maximum (VO2Max) or 95% of your maximum heart rate and for the time that this intensity can be maintained is proven to help improve your VO2Max.

VO2Max interval examples

Why Take VO2Max Test

• The VO2Max test is the industry gold standard for measuring aerobic fitness levels

• Determine the best heart rate training zones for optimal results

• Increase running performance with personalised training plans

• Take a VO2Max test to better understand your performance and tweak your training plan accordingly

• Gives us an insight into your exercise responses (kcal/carb/fat burn) that will help devise training and fuelling plans

• Learn to fuel better for your workout and avoid overtraining

Find out about our VO2Max testing packages here >>

VO2Max is the maximum volume of oxygen you can consume per minute. It’s a measure of your aerobic fitness level and an indicator for how strong, healthy, and efficient your heart and lungs are functioning. In this blog post we’ve talked about what VO2Max is as well as why it’s important to running performance. We also discussed how we measure Vo2Max.

If this sounds interesting to you and if you want to improve your running performance or health benefits like weight loss then book yourself a VO2max test today!


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