VO2max: How the value helps you


April 27th, 2022

What does VO2Max mean?

VO2 stands for Volume (V) and Oxygen (O2). Here, the oxygen uptake increases with more intense physical exertion. Sufficient oxygen uptake is very important for physical activities. The greater the oxygen uptake VO2, the more powerful athletes are. Therefore, the VO2max is also of great importance for athletes and can be used to derive various health aspects. Oxygen uptake is measured in a unit of time, usually per minute.

Very precisely, VOmax describes the body's ability to bring a certain amount of oxygen into the body via the lungs and transport it through the blood supply to the muscles, where it is used for energy production. A defined period of time is considered in which the oxygen is taken up. The addition "max" describes the fact that the largest possible amount of oxygen and its processing in the body is meant.

Why is VO2Max important?

A good VO2max value is important for most sports, but it is especially important for runners, cyclists, swimmers or even cross-country skiers. In other words, everywhere where good endurance is required. Especially for these endurance athletes it is important to improve the VO2max to stay competitive.

How does the VO2Max test work?

Many Garmin sports watches, for example, automatically determine the VO2max during a run. The watch requires correct personal data such as age, gender and height. Together with the data collected during activities, the watch calculates an individual value. The most important data from activities include heart rate and running/walking speed, which are brought into relation with each other.

If data from other sensors, such as GPS data, is added, an even more precise evaluation can be made. In some of its models, Garmin even includes data from integrated or connectable frahling sensors in addition to GPS. These sensors detect particularly humid weather and can put this in relation to the performance data. The training load history is also an important parameter.

How is the value determined?

For athletes, maximum possible performances are of particular importance. For measuring this, the VO2max is available, which occurs at a certain training time and from which the maximum oxygen uptake has been reached and can no longer be increased. The increase of exactly this level can be trained by specific exercises (i.e. the oxygen uptake and processing per time unit can be increased) and measured as well as controlled with good sports watches. The result is in particular an increase in performance, since more energy can be converted per unit of time, although one does not have to exert oneself more.

The watch determines the VO2 value via the entered weight, via the best running time or the best wattage values on the bike, via an average efficiency and a relative closeness to the maximum heart rate. You enter your weight manually. Other data is generated automatically by the watch. This includes the best run time and the best wattage values on the bike, as well as your average running efficiency. And at the end, your pulse, from which the heart rate is calculated.

Determine your VO2max individually with the BESTZEIT app

How high should the VO2max be?

For athletes, maximum possible performances are of particular importance. For measuring this, the VO2max is available, which occurs at a certain training time and from which the maximum oxygen uptake has been reached and can no longer be increased. The increase of exactly this level can be trained by specific exercises (i.e. the oxygen uptake and processing per time unit can be increased) and measured as well as controlled with good sports watches. The result is in particular an increase in performance, since more energy can be converted per unit of time, although one does not have to exert oneself more.

The watch determines the VO2 value via the entered weight, via the best running time or the best wattage values on the bike, via an average efficiency and a relative closeness to the maximum heart rate. You enter your weight manually. Other data is generated automatically by the watch. This includes the best run time and the best wattage values on the bike, as well as your average running efficiency. And at the end, your pulse, from which the heart rate is calculated.

What does the value do for me?

The VO2max test is a simple method to determine performance data with the help of a Garmin watch. If you run regularly with a sports watch for a few weeks, you will receive meaningful VO2max data. With the help of the maximum endurance capacity, the VO2max, athletes can assess their performance and compare themselves with each other. And you can determine different levels based on the value.

How can I use it to improve myself?

The VO2max test is a simple method to determine performance data with the help of a Garmin watch. If you run regularly with a sports watch for a few weeks, you will receive meaningful VO2max data. With the help of the maximum endurance capacity, the VO2max, athletes can assess their performance and compare themselves with each other. And you can determine different levels based on the value.

How can I use it to improve myself?

Oxygen uptake influences our endurance performance, among other things. This decreases with increasing age, regardless of whether we exercise or not. However, regular training causes it to decrease more slowly, so that general fitness is generally better compared to people of the same age and also influences life expectancy. For example, the guideline value for untrained people is a drop of about 8-10% with increasing age, while people with regular sports activities only have a drop of between 4-5%.

Ideally, one should stick to an appropriately customized training plan to increase VO2max. Sports watches with the support for training plans can help to choose and follow the right training plan.

General tips are:

  • Beginners: beginners should not train too intensively, but rather regularly and moderately. This is usually enough to increase VO2max.
  • Experienced athletes with already good value: short intense actions lasting at least 3 up to 15 minutes as part of a training session. This can be interval or HIIT training, for example.
  • Improving VO2max usually takes several weeks and months. With regular training, increases between 10-20% are possible within 10 weeks, while without training a strong reduction of VO2max already occurs after 2-4 weeks, e.g. due to injury or lack of time.

Advantages of a good VO2max:

  • Design training plans sensibly based on a simple indicator
  • More efficient and higher energy conversion with less effort to last longer
  • Evaluate fitness level and progress
  • Compare to similar athletes and know where you stand
  • Determine effectiveness of training
  • Endurance ability is more trainable
  • Generally healthier lifestyle and longer life expectancy

Can I create a training plan based on the VO2max value?

I would not create a training plan based on the VO2max value alone. Why? VO2max does not include basic endurance. If you imagine this in a curve, then the VO2max is the upper value of the curve, the peak. But this value alone is not enough if you want to create a training plan.

To accurately determine your current VO2max, you can simply download the BESTZEIT app and get started. Click here to get to the app!

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