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VO2 Max: What is it and why do we care?

VO2 Max: What is it and why do we care?

A quick breakdown: Your VO2 max is connected to health, performance and longevity!

VO2 max, a key aspect of cardiorespiratory fitness, shows how well your body uses oxygen during intense exercise. While it might seem complex, it's crucial for your health and performance. Here's a breakdown:

Your VO2 max reveals how efficiently your body uses oxygen during workouts, which is important for producing energy aerobically. Athletes, especially endurance ones, aim to improve this measure, often tested in labs using treadmills. Fitness trackers estimate it using data like heart rate and performance.

A higher VO2 max means better oxygen delivery to muscles, boosting aerobic efficiency. Competitive athletes strive for top levels, but for most people, it's about comparing to normal values for their age and gender.

Men usually have higher VO2 max due to more muscle mass, though women can excel too. But individual factors like age and gender affect interpretation.

Ultimately, VO2 max shows how well you use oxygen during exercise, guiding fitness goals.

Benefits of high VO2 max include:

  1. Feel better and less stressed: Higher fitness levels can prevent physiological stress and improve personal well-being.
  2. Breeze through daily challenges: Improved fitness makes daily activities easier and increases energy levels.
  3. Faster, higher, stronger: Higher VO2 max enhances performance in various sports and activities.
  4. Level up your health: Higher fitness levels reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes.
  5. Turn back the clock: Regular exercise and high VO2 max scores can slow down the effects of aging and reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

To achieve high VO2 max, you can follow these tips:

  1. Exercise at a high intensity: Train near your maximum heart rate to strengthen your heart muscles and increase the volume of blood it can pump.
  2. Train in intervals: Interval training, alternating high-intensity activity with rest periods, can improve VO2 max more effectively than continuous aerobic exercise.
  3. Combine interval and continuous training: Incorporate both interval and continuous training in your workout program for better results.
  4. Keep challenging yourself: As you progress, increase the intensity, duration, or frequency of your workouts to continue improving.
  5. Find Your 5K and 10K times: Knowing your running paces for 5K and 10K can help you achieve 90-95% of your max heart rate.

 

How to Track on Apple Watch:

To have your Apple Watch track your VO2 max, you need to engage in workouts that are intense and sustained enough to allow the watch to estimate this metric. Here's how to make sure your Apple Watch is set up to track VO2 max:

  1. Ensure Accurate Information: Make sure your Apple Watch has accurate information about your age, weight, and gender. You can check and update this information in the Health app on your iPhone under "Health Data" > "Body Measurements."

  2. Enable VO2 Max Tracking: VO2 max tracking is automatically enabled on your Apple Watch when you use the Workout app to record certain types of workouts, particularly those that involve sustained cardiovascular activity like running, cycling, or brisk walking. Simply start a workout of your choice, and the Apple Watch will track your VO2 max during the session.

  3. Maintain Intensity: To get accurate VO2 max measurements, maintain a consistent and intense level of activity during your workout. This means sustaining a high heart rate and challenging yourself throughout the duration of the workout.

  4. Review Results: After you complete your workout, your Apple Watch will provide an estimate of your VO2 max. You can review this information in the Activity app on your iPhone or directly on your Apple Watch.

  5. Track Progress: Your Apple Watch will continue to track your VO2 max over time as you engage in more workouts. You can monitor your progress and see how your cardiovascular fitness improves over time.

 

How to Track on Garmin:

  1. Ensure Device Compatibility: Ensure that your Garmin device supports VO2 max tracking. Most Garmin fitness watches and cycling computers offer this feature, but it's a good idea to check the specifications of your specific device to confirm.
  2. Wear Your Device Properly: Wear your Garmin device snugly on your wrist or mount it securely on your bike, depending on the type of activity you're doing.
  3. Enable VO2 Max Tracking: Depending on your Garmin device model, you may need to enable VO2 max tracking in the settings menu. Look for options related to performance metrics or physiological measurements and ensure that VO2 max tracking is turned on.
  4. Start a Workout: Start a workout on your Garmin device. Choose an activity profile that is suitable for the type of exercise you're doing, such as running, cycling, or indoor training.
  5. Maintain Intensity: To get accurate VO2 max measurements, maintain a consistent and intense level of activity throughout your workout. This typically involves sustaining an elevated heart rate for an extended period.
  6. Review Results: After you complete your workout, your Garmin device will provide an estimate of your VO2 max. You can usually view this information directly on your device's display or sync your device with the Garmin Connect app on your smartphone or computer to review more detailed metrics.
  7. Track Progress: Your Garmin device will continue to track your VO2 max over time as you engage in more workouts. You can monitor your progress and see how your cardiovascular fitness improves over time.

    It's worth noting that VO2 max estimation from fitness devices is an approximation and may not be as accurate as laboratory testing. However, it can still provide valuable insights into your fitness level and progress. If you have specific health concerns or training goals, consider consulting with a healthcare professional or fitness coach for personalized guidance.

    Here are some averages based on sex and age that you can use for reference.

    Typical VO₂ max for people born male measured in mL/kg/min:

     

     

    Typical VO₂ max for people born female measured in mL/kg/min:

      

    Check out some great options to use while working on your VO2 max on the Paceline Marketplace!

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