VO2 Max
(from http://www.brianmac.demon.co.uk/vo2max.htm)

Introduction

Fitness can be measured by the volume of oxygen you can consume while exercising at your maximum capacity. VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen in milliliters, one can use in one minute per kilogram of body weight. Those who are more fit have higher VO2 max values and can exercise more intensely than those who are not as well conditioned.

Factors affecting VO2 max

The physical limitations that restrict the rate at which energy can be released aerobically are dependent upon:

Ranges for VO2 max - by age and sex

Female (values in ml/kg/min)

Age Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior
13-19 <25.0 25.0 - 30.9 31.0 - 34.9 35.0 - 38.9 39.0 - 41.9 >41.9
20-29 <23.6 23.6 - 28.9 29.0 - 32.9 33.0 - 36.9 37.0 - 41.0 >41.0
30-39 <22.8 22.8 - 26.9 27.0 - 31.4 31.5 - 35.6 35.7 - 40.0 >40.0
40-49 <21.0 21.0 - 24.4 24.5 - 28.9 29.0 - 32.8 32.9 - 36.9 >36.9
50-59 <20.2 20.2 - 22.7 22.8 - 26.9 27.0 - 31.4 31.5 - 35.7 >35.7
60+ <17.5 17.5 - 20.1 20.2 - 24.4 24.5 - 30.2 30.3 - 31.4 >31.4

Male (values in ml/kg/min)

Age Very Poor Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior
13-19 <35.0 35.0 - 38.3 38.4 - 45.1 45.2 - 50.9 51.0 - 55.9 >55.9
20-29 <33.0 33.0 - 36.4 36.5 - 42.4 42.5 - 46.4 46.5 - 52.4 >52.4
30-39 <31.5 31.5 - 35.4 35.5 - 40.9 41.0 - 44.9 45.0 - 49.4 >49.4
40-49 <30.2 30.2 - 33.5 33.6 - 38.9 39.0 - 43.7 43.8 - 48.0 >48.0
50-59 <26.1 26.1 - 30.9 31.0 - 35.7 35.8 - 40.9 41.0 - 45.3 >45.3
60+ <20.5 20.5 - 26.0 26.1 - 32.2 32.3 - 36.4 36.5 - 44.2 >44.2

%VO2max and %MHR

For many athletes it is not possible for them to determine their VO2max. This can be due to limited access to appropriate testing facilities and/or the associated costs of testing. For those athletes who cannot determine their VO2max and prefer to set their training based on a percentage of their VO2max then there is a way, provided you know your Maximum Heart Rate (MHR). The relationship has been shown to hold true across sex, age and activity.

David Swain (1994) and his US based research team using statistical procedures examined the relationship between %MHR and %VO2 Max. Their results led to the following regression equation :

Example: 70% VO2max is equivalent to 81.8% MHR.

See the Maximum Heart Rate page for %VO2max to %MHR and %MHR to %VO2max conversion tables.

%MHR calculator

To determine the %MHR enter the required %VO2max and then select the 'Calculate' button.

%VO2max % %MHR %

Associated Journals and Books

The following journals and books contain more information on this topic:



Questions on content or suggestions to improve this page are appreciated.

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