Understanding tips on how to enhance VO2 max is essential for optimizing cardiovascular health. 

But, many health buffs know little about what VO2 max is, or why it’s necessary.

In case you’re in the dead of night, that is the article for you.

In it, you’ll be taught the whole lot it is advisable to find out about VO2 max, together with what VO2 max is, why it’s necessary, tips on how to measure it, tips on how to enhance your VO2 max, how lengthy the method takes, and extra. 

What Is VO2 Max?

VO2 max, or “quantity of oxygen most,” is the utmost quantity of oxygen your physique can use throughout intense train, measured in milliliters of oxygen utilized in one minute per kilogram of physique weight (mL/kg/min).

Why Is VO2 Max Vital?

Oxygen performs a pivotal function in creating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of our cells.

Throughout cardio train, our muscle tissue depend on oxygen to transform glucose, glycogen, and saved fats into ATP in order that our muscle tissue can perform.

The upper your VO2 max, the extra oxygenated blood your coronary heart can pump to your muscle tissue and the extra ATP you’ll be able to produce, which interprets into higher endurance efficiency. 

A excessive VO2 max isn’t simply an indicator of your cardiovascular health degree—it’s additionally linked to longevity.

Research reveals an environment friendly cardiovascular system, signified by a excessive VO2 max, is related to a lowered danger of power illnesses and elevated longevity.

Measure VO2 Max

  • Lab assessments: A lab VO2 max check includes running on a treadmill or biking on a stationary bike at progressively tougher intensities till you’ll be able to’t proceed. When you train, you put on a masks related to a “metabolic cart,” a machine that measures the gasses you inhale and exhale. Though exact, this technique isn’t probably the most handy or accessible.
  • Estimation assessments: Checks, together with the Rockport stroll check, 1.5-mile run/stroll check, Cooper VO2 max check, and YMCA cycle check, can assist you determine your VO2 max. These assessments estimate your VO2 max primarily based on components reminiscent of how lengthy you’re taking to finish the check, your coronary heart charge, the space you cowl, and your energy output. 
  • Health Watches: Some fashionable fitness watches use your coronary heart charge, tempo, and energy degree throughout exercises to offer an estimate of your VO2 max.

Improve Your VO2 Max

Beneath are three coaching methods to spice up your VO2 max. 

Every requires you to coach at completely different percentages of your most coronary heart charge (the quickest charge your coronary heart can beat in a single minute, additionally known as “MHR”).

To make use of percentages of your MHR in your coaching, right here’s what it is advisable to do:

  1. Decide Your MHR: Estimate your MHR by subtracting your age from 220. For instance, if you’re 30 years outdated, your estimated MHR could be 190 beats per minute (bpm).
  2. Calculate Coaching Depth: Divide the depth proportion by 100, then multiply the reply by your MHR. As an illustration, if the exercise requires 80% depth and your MHR is 190 bpm, do the next math: (80 ÷ 100) x 190 = 152 bpm. 
  3. Monitor Your Coronary heart Price: Use a coronary heart charge monitor throughout exercises to remain inside the goal vary.

Now let’s talk about the methods.

1. Do high-intensity interval coaching. 

Doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is crucial for bettering VO2 max. 

Not like typical HIIT exercises, the place intervals are comparatively brief (normally measured in seconds), intervals must be barely longer when coaching to enhance VO2 max (normally 3-to-8 minutes).

For newbies, a “4 x 4” exercise is a strong start line: Do a 4-minute bout of cardio train, reminiscent of operating, swimming, or biking, at about 90% of MHR, adopted by 3 minutes of lively restoration at 50-to-70% of MHR. Repeat 4 instances for a complete of 28 minutes of train.

As you get extra superior, lengthen the intervals or enhance the variety of rounds you full to proceed bettering.

Exercises like this are intense, so it is best to solely do them as soon as weekly. 

2. Do low-intensity steady-state exercises.

Whereas many seeking to enhance VO2 max focus solely on HIIT, skilled operating coaches and endurance athletes know that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

To boost VO2 max optimally, you will need to additionally do longer exercises at a decrease depth, also known as “zone 2” exercises, wherein you prepare at 60-to-70% of MHR.

For greatest outcomes, do two-to-three 30-to-45-minutes zone 2 exercises weekly. 

3. Incorporate tempo runs.

For educated athletes, tempo, or “threshold,” runs are one other efficient technique to improve VO2 max. 

Throughout a tempo run, preserve your coronary heart charge at round 80% of MHR for a sustained interval. 

This technique will increase your “lactate threshold” (the purpose throughout train at which lactate begins to build up within the blood quicker than your physique can take away it), enabling your muscle tissue to perform successfully even when lactic acid builds up.

An improved lactate threshold typically goes hand-in-hand with a greater VO2 max because it lets you preserve high-intensity effort for longer.

Right here’s an instance tempo run exercise:

  • Heat-up: 3 minutes
  • Zone 2 tempo: 10 minutes
  • Tempo tempo: 20-to-Half-hour
  • Zone 2 tempo: 10 minutes

In case you’re an skilled endurance athlete, do a tempo run exercise each 1-to-3 weeks. 

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How Lengthy Does it Take to Enhance VO2 Max?

Having grasped how to enhance VO2 max, most individuals’s minds flip to how lengthy to enhance VO2 max.

Sadly, there’s no definitive reply—it is dependent upon your present health degree.

Rookies and people getting again into train may even see enhancements in VO2 max in as little as 4 weeks of standard coaching. 

Then again, when you’re already in fine condition, growing your VO2 max would possibly take longer and require progressively more difficult coaching over a number of months and even years.