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VO2 Max Fitness Levels

There are many factors that go towards assessing a runnerís current fitness, from Haemoglobin levels to MVV (Maximal Voluntary Ventilation).

This article covers one of those aspects - a runnerís VO2 Max - which assesses their aerobic ability.

An easy explanation of VO2 Max is that it functionally represents the maximum amount of oxygen that can be removed from the circulating blood and used by working tissue during a specified period.  There is as always formulas showing various calculations, one being the energy demand for running, based on sub maximal performance, approx. 1 kcal per kilogram of body weight per kilometre of distance covered, which is not a difficult one to work out, at 64kg you use 640 kcal per 10k race.

Working out the VO2 Max is not as easy, VO2 Max = (velocity x 0.2) + 3.5

So to keep it simple, first the values, which are based on millilitres of oxygen used per kilogram of body weight per minute.

Young Female (20-29 yr) of average fitnessVO2 Max = 35 to 43 ml /kg/min
Elite Female runner, same age groupVO2 Max = 61 to 73 ml /kg/min
Male average fitness, same age groupVO2 Max = 44 to 51 ml /kg/min
Elite Male runner, same age groupVO2 Max = 71 to 84 ml /kg/min

(If you are wondering why the Female athletes canít equal the men, itís not through lack of effort I hasten to add, just physiological differences, one being the haemoglobin level, Men 14.5 - 15.8 to Women 13.5 - 13.9).

Now you know the values all you need is a treadmill test at about £60, or follow the BRUNO BALKE TEST below for free.  This will give you a very good idea of your current VO2 Max, and also indicate how much more scope you have in achieving a greater level of fitness.

15 minutes run around a track.
Metres counted, divide by 15 -133 X 0.172 + 33.3
= millilitres of oxygen per kg per minute

Example:     4400m covered
divide by 15  = 293
-133  = 160
X 0.172  = 27.5
+ 33.3  = 60.82
   = 61ml per kg per minute

Norman Matthews © 2001-2004
Head Senior Coach
Horwich RMI Harriers