VO2 max is an important fitness measure, as the higher it is, the more work your body is capable of doing.

VO2 max has more to do with aerobic measures and the amount of oxygen that the body is capable of using in the cells.

An absolute maximum VO2 test with find your aerobic capacity at your maximum heart rate. This is done in a clinical setting and can be expensive and difficult to administer. This is why we are doing an estimation test here.

This is a very taxing test, and it may be better to do one of the estimated VO2 max tests so that you do not go to your limits.

The calculator below will use the 1.5-mile run to estimate your VO2 max, and this is a really easy and quite accurate method to get a close estimate of your maximal oxygen consumption.

What Does My VO2 Max Measure Mean?

During times of physical activity, specifically working out, the body is constantly converting the oxygen you take in, and other substances, into energy to power this activity.

There is a limit to the amount of energy and work that can be done, and this is where the measure of a VO2 max comes in handy.

The measure of maximal oxygen uptake will be in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body weight per minute.

If you have a 40 VO2 max, it will be written like this: 40 ml/kg/min.

This means that the body can utilize 40 milliliters of oxygen for every kg of body weight in every minute.

It is a good idea to test your own VO2 max so that you can work on improving this number, which means overall improvements in your own athletic performance.

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VO2 max is a very relevant benchmark for us to constantly work at improving, and it is possibly the most important physical fitness benchmark for lifelong health.

As we see with the example ranges in the next section, the VO2 max will decrease as we age, and all studies have shown that VO2 max will decrease in half the time in people who remain physically active, thus reducing the general effects of aging and athletic performance.

VO2 max is more relevant as a fitness level measure than that of resting heart rate for finding someone’s cardiovascular fitness.

What Is A Good Value for VO2 Max?

The volume of oxygen used per kg of body weight is going to be different for everyone and based on one’s own fitness and wellness.

The example VO2 max values below that are considered to be good will show that in general, your VO2 max is expected to decrease as you age, and this is totally normal.

It is still important to remember that all bodies are different and the numbers are based on some things we cannot truly control, like age, sex, activity level, and the elevation level that you live at.

Take a look at these examples below for a few different age groups of both sexes.

Men 20-29:

  • Very bad: lower than 33
  • Good: 42-46
  • Excellent: above 52

Men 40-49:

  • Very bad: below 30
  • Good: 39-44
  • Excellent: above 48

Men 60+:

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  • Very bad: below 20
  • Good: 32-36
  • Excellent: above 44 

Women 20-29:

  • Very bad: below 24
  • Good: 33-37
  • Excellent: above 41

Women 40-49:

  • Very bad: below 21
  • Good: 29-33
  • Excellent: above 37

Women 60+:

  • Very bad: below 18
  • Good: 24-30
  • Excellent: above 31

What Is Used To Calculate VO2 max?

A true VO2 max test is done in a professional clinical setting with a very experienced fitness professional. It requires the use of a lot of equipment and also requires a good amount of training to actually test.

Typically, only serious endurance athletes will get the level of professional testing required for a true VO2 max test.

That is why it is not always viable to rely on professional testing, and instead, we can use the estimation formulas, like the one in this VO2 max calculator.

The estimations are pretty accurate, but within a few percentages of what a true test result would be.

For this VO2 calculation in our calculator, we are using one of the most accurate tests, which is the Cooper Test that was made by Dr. Kenneth Cooper.

This test will only require the use of a stopwatch and a 1.5-mile run, preferably done on a track-like surface.

You are just going to plug this time in and then the calculator will spit out your test results, which are very accurate if you gave it your all on the test.

If you achieved an 8 minute, 20 second time on your 1.5-mile run, you would receive a 61.5 ml/kg/min test result.

The vo2 max formula used for this is:

  • In Miles: VO2max = (35.97 x miles) – 11.29.
  • In Kilometers: VO2max = (22.351 x kilometers) – 11.288.

This result would be in the exceptional category, regardless of your age.

There are many other estimation tests that you could use for estimating your VO2 max, let’s take a look at some of these.

  • One mile walking test
  • Three minutes step test
  • Indoor rowing for 2000 m

The run test that we used is more for the general population, and may not be suitable for people that are unable to run, or in times where a track of this size cannot be found.

You can estimate your VO2 max with a one-mile walk test, which is going to be accurate for the elderly populations and for other people that will not be able to run for 1.5 miles.

There is also a 3-minute step test which requires a little more equipment, and something to keep the stepping tempo. This is good for the general population and elderly populations, also.

And then, for the indoor rowing, 2000 meter test, it is good for more elite athletes, generally, as this requires experience with the movements, and is less doable for someone without exercise experience.

We hope that this article has shed some light on the VO2 max and its uses in the fitness world.

Make sure to check out our other fitness calculators to help you with your fitness journey, wherever you might be in it.

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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