If you’re an athlete or a fitness freak, you might be aware of the term VO2 Max. If you’re not, this is a detailed article about what is VO2 Max and how you can improve VO2 Max for Running.
But why running?
because running is one of the most basic exercises that you can do to keep yourself healthy.
Since we’re talking about running and our website is focused on running, this article will be focused on how you can improve your VO2 max running.
What is VO2 Max?
VO2 Max is the measuring capacity of your lungs. What it means is the volume of oxygen your body can process at a certain amount of time. You can also call it “maximum lung capacity”. The higher VO2 Max your body can process, the more active you will be during your workouts.
Why is VO2 Max important?
Being an athlete myself, there are a lot of benefits to knowing when your body is going to give up during workouts. You should always be aware of how much your body can take instead of blindly grinding yourself and not giving some space. This can often lead to fatigue and muscle loss which is not healthy.
Let’s think besides the point of a sportsperson. How can VO2 Max help you in a stable life even if you’re not an athlete? Lower level VO2 Max can lead towards more heart diseases. After a certain age, things might be difficult to work or do. One of the major benefits of having a higher VO2 Max is activeness in your body. You won’t be tired after every task which is quite common in people these days.
How to Measure VO2 Max
One of the most accurate methods to test VO2 Max is in a laboratory or a training center while running on a treadmill.
At least this is what the elite athletes follow to test their VO2 Max. They need to keep their fitness in check and know what longer they can go without losing control over their body. Usually, it is done through a cycling machine or a treadmill with other types of equipment in place.
If you’re not an athlete, these options might not be feasible for you.
For starters, they are too costly and the other reason is they’re not available everywhere. So where do you go for VO2 Max testing? There are 2 ways to find out:
- Online Calculators: VO2 Max is not a new concept. People have been following it for a long time and many calculators have been developed after studying the pattern of people and their VO2 Max levels. These calculators are not 100% accurate but they give you a fair idea of what you’re dealing with. One of the popular VO2 Max calculators is created by Brainmac.
- Smartwatches: Many advanced smartwatches and fitness trackers in the market can calculate your VO2 Max depending on your heart rate while running. One of the popular brands which can give you accurate results is Garmin Forerunner. They have a good history when it comes to creating VO2 Max watches. While checking out the product online, some users we’re even aware of VO2 Max being a feature in Garmin smartwatches.
What should my VO2 Max be?
Not talking in technical terms, I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. There is no number for what your VO2 Max should be. Unless you’re a professional athlete, all you should be worried about is not getting tired soon. Physical fitness should be your top priority instead of focusing on the actual numbers.
As mentioned in the benefits section, your VO2 Max can improve your health and lifespan, you should push yourself whenever you feel like you’re getting tired.
Age is also a factor for VO2 Max. Since you cannot be the same and aging is bound to happen with time, your VO2 Max will drop after a while. If you’re a regular runner, you might need to increase your VO2 Max for running if you want to be healthy in the long term.
How to Improve Your VO2 Max for Running
One of the most required places for VO2 Max is while running. Since running is a very vigorous exercise, your VO2 Max should be at its best to give you results. The best method to improve your VO2 Max for running is by running itself. The best explanation for this is because the best way to get a higher VO2 Max is by training at your peak VO2 Max and pushing it forward.
If you’re not used to running or exercise, don’t worry. Even I was lazy when it comes to running and I still don’t like it. After doing it for a couple of days, you’ll get used to it. Running deeply affects your VO2 Max and you are going to see results within weeks.
Here’s a personal method that worked for me:
This method is divided into two sections. One is when you begin. If you think you have more energy left, proceed with the other method.
Note: Do a light warmup and stretching before getting started to reduce the chances of injury.
- Start with 5-6 minutes of light jogging
- As soon as you start catching your breath, increase your speed accordingly
- After 2-3 minutes, you will start feeling tired. This is where you need to push yourself
- Run with this breath capacity for the next 5-8 minutes.
This process is personally tested. The numbers might differ for every person but you get a fair idea about how it works.
Another way to improve your VO2 Max is by doing HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). There are many suggestions on the internet for HIIT using gym machines but the best way of doing it is while running.
Here’s a basic exercise related to HIIT which will help you increase your VO2 Max.
- 20 Second Brisk Walk
- 15 Second Sprint
Repeat this 8-10 times
Just make sure you do the sprints properly and give your best on every sprint.
If you’re new to running, this can be quite a lot to take in. But trust me, the first step is the only hard work you might need to improve your health. Within 3 weeks, the above methods gave me results and it improved my endurance to go even longer. If someone like me can do this, anyone can.
Let’s talk about the most efficient fitness tracker used in 2020 and we’re going to explain about the Garmin watches and how they work.
How does Garmin Calculate VO2 Max?
Garmin fitness trackers give results based on multiple factors and after multiple tests. The non-technical aspects are quite easy to understand.
The watch collects your basic information like your watch which is used to calculate your VO2 Max. As soon as the person starts exercising, the device starts monitoring the heart rate and speed. The data collected is then matched with the test segments fed into the device by the company.
After analyzing your data with the results they achieved, the device tells you how your fitness level is(VO2 Max Capacity). This is determined by the values generated by the company after doing a number of tests from different types of people. According to Firstbeat, they conducted tests 2690 times on 79 runners.
You might be wondering how accurate is Garmin’s VO2 Max?
After all the tests mentioned above, the company claims the accuracy of these trackers came out to be 95% which is more than enough for non-professional athletes.
Hope this article has been helpful in understanding about VO2 max, how to calculate VO2 max and also how to increase and improve VO2 Max while running.