VO2 max: What is it and how can you improve yours?

3 min read
Wednesday, 8 February 2023

VO2 max is, very simply, the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can intake. It is used globally to measure the endurance or cardio fitness of individuals.

It's the gold standard of cardio fitness. Below, learn how to measure your VO2 max, understand where you are in terms of standard, and how to improve your score.

Testing your VO2 max

You can measure VO2 max in a variety of ways, to varying degrees of accuracy, a common method being a submaximal exercise test.

The Myzone Fitness Test 2.0 measures to high accuracy and uses scientific approaches and processes developed by the world-leading Loughborough University. It is designed specifically for the Myzone chest sensors, to test and score an individual's VO2 Max. Following a thorough research and feedback process, it's now a simple and efficient method for trainers, coaches, and individuals to test and benchmark progress.

How do you score VO2 max?

Metabolic equivalents (METs) are the official measurement of VO2 max, using the equation below.

1 MET = 3.5mL O2 / kg x minute

The higher your score, the fitter you are, as your body is more able to use oxygen efficiently while you are exercising.

What is a good score?

A "good" score can vary depending on several factors such as age, gender, genetics, and overall health. However, the below table from the American College of Sports Medicine gives rough guidance on what is considered top form to needing some work, for each gender and age.

From ACSM data

Individuals born male

  18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 66+
Excellent >60 >56 >51 >45 >41 >37
Good 52-60 49-56 43-51 39-45 36-41 33-37
Average 47-51 43-48 39-42 35-38 32-35 29-32
Average 42-26 40-42 35-38 32-35 30-31 26-28
Average 37-41 35-39 31-34 29-31 26-29 22-25
Poor 30-36 30-34 26-30 25-28 22-25 20-21
Very poor <30 <30 <36 <20 <18 <17


Individuals born female

  18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 66+
Excellent 56 52 45 40 37 32
Good 47-56 45-52 38-45 34-40 32-37 28-32
Average 42-46 39-44 34-37 31-33 28-31 25-27
Average 38-41 35-38 31-33 28-30 25-27 22-24
Average 33-37 31-34 27-30 25-27 22-24 19-22
Poor 28-32 26-30 22-26 20-24 18-21 17-18
Very poor <28 <26 <22 <20 <18 <17


Please note that VO2 max scores should be interpreted in the context of other factors and should not be used as the sole indicator of fitness.

How can you improve your score?

Your VO2 max typically declines with age, after reaching 30 years old. Training your cardiovascular system at the right threshold can, however, maintain and/or improve your VO2 max score. Try adding in threshold training, maintaining a high intensity, think Myzone yellow or red zone, for 10 minutes or longer – learn more here.

Additionally, lifestyle factors such as stopping smoking and improving diet can contribute.

How to access and complete the MZ-Fitness Test 2.0

The test comprises a staged Zone Match over a 12-minute time period that can be performed on any piece of cardio kit. Simply match the colours within the given times and the algorithm takes care of the rest.

Results of the test will give individuals a VO2 Max Score, a Fitness Age, and a normative age/sex comparison using ACSM Friend equations.

Access via the main menu in Myzone App.

Fitness Test 3.6

Download the Myzone app for Android or iOS and start tracking your progress now.  

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