In the world of running, VO2 max is a performance metric that defines cardiovascular fitness.
However, many athletes are still clueless when it comes to how to improve VO2 max. There are also many unanswered questions like how is VO2 max calculated and how to measure VO2 max.
Let us read about VO2 max to gain a clear and complete understanding.
What is VO2 max?
VO2 max (also known as maximum oxygen intake, peak oxygen uptake, maximal aerobic capacity, and maximal oxygen consumption) represents the ability of your body to utilize oxygen. In other words, VO2 max refers to the highest level of oxygen that your body can possibly utilize in a defined period of time.
V stands for volume while O2 stands for oxygen and max stands for maximum. This indicator of cardiovascular fitness is measured in milliliters per kilogram per minute (mL/kg/min).
For instance, if your VO2 max is 44 mL/kg/min, it means that your body can take in and utilize 44 mL of oxygen per kilogram of body weight when you're exercising at maximum aerobic capacity.
VO2 max is utilized to quantify the maximum rate at which your body can take in oxygen through the respiratory system and then transport it to your muscles via the circulatory system.
Thereafter, it refers to the extraction of oxygen from the blood in your body so it can be used for the production of aerobic energy through different metabolic pathways in the mitochondria in your muscles.
Theoretically, a higher VO2 max helps your body produce more of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) per minute. This helps your body easily handle strenuous workouts and perform at its best without experiencing muscle soreness, damage, breakdown, or fatigue.
How VO2 max is measured?
VO2 max can be measured using protocols such as the YMCA Cycle Ergometer test, the 1.5-mile test, the Rockport Walk Test, and the Cooper VO2 max test. You can even measure VO2 max through some premium running watches.
How a higher VO2 max helps you?
A higher VO2 max improves the overall quality of life and significantly reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. It also improves mood, sleep, concentration, energy, power, stamina, and lifespan.
How to increase VO2 max?
The best way to increase your VO2 max is to conduct training at approximately 90-95 percent of your maximum heart rate. You can get your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. For instance, your maximum heart rate is 190 if you are 30 years old.
Furthermore, you should focus more on interval training than engaging yourself into continuous aerobic exercise. Alternatively, you can incorporate both interval training and continuous aerobic exercise in your workout regimen.
Also, you should always aim to train harder by increasing the duration of your workouts, increasing the frequency of your workouts, and increasing the intensity of your workouts.
To get started, you can engage yourself in a warm-up that includes dynamic mobility and easy jogging. You need to run as faster and far as you possibly can in 4 minutes and measure the covered distance.
Then, you need to take a 4-minute rest and then run the same distance 15 percent slower for the remaining four reps. Alternatively, you can get started with running hard uphill for 2-3 minutes and then job back to the initial point, and repeat.
High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, can also be a good choice to improve your VO2 max. For this, you can engage in jump squat, high knees, burpee, mountain climber, and alternating Plyo lunge.
All in all, you can improve VO2 max by simply increasing the amount of running you do. Thereafter, you need to add intervals as your fitness levels build. Once this has been done, you can to vary the intervals while adding some aerobic cross-training to boost your VO2 max.