Everything you need to know about vo2 training

What is it?

VO2 max refers to the maximum rate of oxygen you consume during certain types of exercise. The higher your oxygen consumption, the more likely that you’ll be fit and have a high level of endurance during these exercises. Because of this, VO2 max training revolves around maximizing the amount of oxygen you can take in during incremental exercises that increase in intensity, and elite athletes often use VO2 max training to enhance their performance. Could it possibly help you?

How do elite athletes use vo2 to train?

Many elite athletes use VO2 to train, most commonly cyclists, rowers, runners and swimmers. Often, elite athletes have a VO2 max of 77–85 milliliters per minute. Elite athletes will undergo a clinical VO2 max test to determine their baseline fitness, and then use their evolving VO2 max to track their progress.

How is vo2 measured?

Professionals can use one of these clinical VO2 max tests to measure their VO2 in a sports performance lab. This includes special equipment, though, which isn’t easily accessible for the average person.

You can measure your VO2 at home using some simple equations. First, determine your resting heart rate in beats per minute (either using a heart rate tracker on a fitness tracker or watch, or manually, by tracking your heart beats for 60 seconds, and counting them to get the beats per minute).

To calculate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220.

The common equation used to calculate your VO2 max is: 15 x (your maximum heart rate/your resting heart rate).

This is the maximum rate of oxygen you consume during high-intensity exercise, measured by milliliters per minute.

What is vo2 max training?

VO2 max training is often likened to HIIT training — high-intensity interval training. If you’ve done any HIIT workouts recently, you’ll see why.

One of the VO2 max training methods is the 30/30 and 60/60 method. This includes 30 seconds of exercising as hard as you can (often running or biking), followed by 30 seconds of easy exercise (a slow jog or slow pedaling). The 60/60 method is the same, only for 60 seconds instead of 30 seconds.

Other training methods are similar and always include intervals of hard exercise followed by a cool down interval of similar length. It’s advised that your intervals are dramatically different, as some make the mistake of only changing their pace of activity slightly, which can result in lessened benefits.

What are the benefits of vo2 max training?

Speaking of the benefits, many people enjoy VO2 max training because it’s one of the few forms of exercise that shows quick results.

Benefits include improving your performance in terms of speed and endurance. As you push your body to handle more aggressive activity, it becomes more accustomed to this level of work, and can then eventually take it on more easily. Some find that VO2 max training also helps them improve their form, as the speed and energy required during this type of training leaves little room for error.

Additionally, if your goal isn’t necessarily to improve your athletic performance, but instead, to lose weight, then you’re in luck. VO2 max training can help dieters lose weight faster, and those who may find themselves at a weight loss plateau often have great success with VO2 max training. 

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