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VO2 Max: What You Need to Know

What is a VO2 Max and why do we test and access it?
Abby Graham
August 10, 2022

On Tuesday this week we used our 2k row trial to calculate your VO2 Max so I wanted to dive into why it’s an important measure to track for our clients and what it really means. So let’s get started. 

What is a V02 Max?

VO2 max is the amount of oxygen your body uses while exercising as hard as you can. The more oxygen you inhale, the more energy your body can use. Higher VO2 max usually means better physical fitness. It's a common tool to understand your fitness level. Knowing your VO2 max can help you train for sports, track your fitness improvement, and improve your heart health.

Think about it like this. When you take a breath, you are inhaling oxygen into your bloodstream. Your heart, in turn pumps your blood into your muscles. The oxygen that is received into your muscles fuels the chemical reaction that gives your muscles energy to produce the action you are taking. When you workout you need more energy so in turn, you breathe more quickly and deeply to provide the energy your muscles need to work harder. 

Why is it important?

Your VO2 max shows how well your heart and veins push blood to your muscles and the rest of your body. Knowing your VO2 max can help you measure fitness and heart health improvements over time. 

With that being said VO2 Max is a measure of successful aerobic performance and some other factors that may be equally or even more important. These factors include high lactate threshold, good exercise economy, high efficiency in using fat as a fuel source and high percent of type 1 fibers. 

Those Other Factors

High Lactate Threshold: Higher VO2 Max values susatin aerobic energy production at the highest levels of their VO2 Max without accumulation of large amounts of lactic acid in the muscle and blood. 

Exercise Economy: If you have a higher exercise economy, you will expend less energy during exercise to maintain the same effort or pace. 

Utilizing Fat for Fuel: Fat provides the main fuel source for long-duration, low- to moderate-intensity exercise (think endurance sports, such as marathons). Even during high-intensity exercise, where​ carbohydrate is the main fuel source, the body needs fat to help access the stored carbohydrate (glycogen). Using fat to fuel exercise, however, is not a simple process. It has three key parts:

Better VO2 Max = Better Efficiency of your Body to utilize fat for fuel 

Overall, VO2 Max is a great measure to track no matter your goals. It tells us numerous amounts of information that you can use to improve your health and wellness as well as your performance.

Not happy with your score? Consider these 2 things.

  1. Effort during the test. Was your row MAX effort? If not, maybe consider retaking with a different mindset. 
  2. Effort during Training. Effort isn’t about killing yourself each day but rather putting forth what you need on that day to take another step forward toward achieving your goals. Are you putting in effort?

Want to improve your score?

Join us on the heart rate training train and complete 2-4 Zone 2 workouts (60-70% of HR) per week. You might see this in our class program or you can complete this on your own at home! Overall, it is in your capability to turn things around.

If you want more information on this feel free to reach out to us at Thrive. We are more than happy to help assist you in hitting your health and/or performance goals. 


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