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VO2max fitness test explained

How fit are you? One of the fitness assessments we do with clients is an Astrand VO2max aerobic fitness test....

vo2max fitness testA person's cardiovascular or aerobic fitness is best measured by their VO2Max score. This term describes "the maximum amount of oxygen your body can utilise during highly intense aerobic exercise". It is expressed in millilitres per kilogram or body weight per minute (ml/kg/min). This number (higher is better) is a good indicator or your aerobic fitness or power and will indicate how difficult you will find aerobic activities such as walking, running, cycling, swimming etc.

We use a 'submaximal' fitness test protocal called the 'Astrand Submaximal Bike Test'. This uses a subjects heart rate response to various levels of work on an upright cycle over 5-10 minutes. The average heart rate on a particular level is then correlated to an estimate of the subjects oxygen capacity.

Other fitness tests can use more sophisticated equipment to perform a 'maximal' fitness test where the subject is pushed to their limit! You may have seen these sort of tests on TV where someone runs on a treadmill until they are completely fatigued! This sort of fitness test is more accurate than a submaximal fitness test but obviously requries more equipment and careful monitoring. The good news is that these more advanced tests correlate well to the Astrand test for VO2max.

From the Astrand fitness test we get two results: one is your 'oxygen capacity' which is expressed in litres of oxygen per minute, the other is your VO2Max score, which is your oxygen capcity adjusted for your age and body weight. To get a higher fitness test score you need one (or all) of these three things:

- a higher oxygen capacity
- a lower age
- a lower body weight

Now, we cant do much about your age (!), so to get a higher VO2Max fitness test score you need to work on improving your oxygen capacity (with aerobic fitness training) or decreasing your body weight (fitness training, strength work, and nutrition).

To find out more about fitness tests, vo2max, aerobic fitness, or aerobic training contact us!


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