Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Your VO2 Max

What is Your VO2 Max?

  • VO2 max is the maximum oxygen your muscles consume during peak activity. V for volume and O2 for oxygen.

What is the average VO2 Max?

  • This depends primarily on the age and gender of the person. Some averages:
    • Average sedentary male – 35 to 40 mL/kg/min
    • Average sedentary female – 27 an 30 mL/kg/min
  • The higher the number, the better
  • mL/kg/min = milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight
  • Here’s a more detailed charge of age ranges and averages

What is the average VO2 Max of athletes?

  • It varies greatly from sport to sport, but just to give you an idea, Lance Armstrong has been measured at 85 mL/kg/min.
  • Other athletes:
    • Bjorn Daehlie, cross country skier: 90
    • Miguel Indurain, cyclist (winner of Tour de France): 88
    • John Ngugi, 5 times world cross country champ: 85
    • Dave Bedford, 10km World Record holder: 85
    • Sebastian Coe, middle distance (1 mile WR): 77

How does having a high VO2 Max benefit me?

  • In terms of athletic performance, someone with a higher VO2 max will be able to perform at a high level for a longer period of time than someone with a lower VO2 max.
  • VO2 max focuses on aerobic capacity. So the person with a high VO2 max does not necessarily mean he or she can push heavier weights during resistance training or HIIT exercises and sprints.

How do you measure your VO2 Max?

  • There are various ways to measure VO2 max which involve measurements, calculations, and formulas. This information can be found on pages like this.
  • You will still need a device that can measure the necessary data needed for calculations. An Apple Watch can do much of the needed measuring and calculate your VO2 max for you.
  • Simpler ways to get your VO2 max measurements is to go to professional services like BodySpec. There you will go for a short appointment where you would wear a mask to measure oxygen input while you run at a high intensity on a treadmill for a specified amount of time. I’ve been to Body Spec for measuring my fat percentage. It’s quick, easy and they provide a nice looking report for you in both digital and physical formats.

How do you increase your VO2 Max?

  • You can definitely improve your VO2 Max with proper and focused training.
  • There are no specifics tricks to increase your VO2 max despite what you may read. You basically have to train more often and elicit your VO2 max on a regular basis which means utilizing high-intensity interval training and do it at various intervals, pacing, and distances.
  • There are numerous methods of high-intensity interval training, you can find some of those methods here.

Interesting facts about VO2 Max

  • Genetics can account for 25-50% of the variance between individuals
  • Even athletes that compete in the same sport can have a high variance when it comes to VO2 max.
  • VO2 max declines with age (about 2% per year after age 30)


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