Improving VO2 max means increasing your body’s effectiveness at using oxygen for exercise. Also known as VO2 peak, training this aspect can help to improve your endurance and output, whether training for a local race or just improving your fitness. Our guide takes you through what VO2 max is, how it’s measured, and how you can improve yours.
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VO2 Max represents the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use as you cycle. It’s not a term solely applied to cycling, though many usingindoor bike trainers may keep track of theirs. Thisperformance test can be used to assess fitness for many different sports and practices.
Breaking down the term, we see:
Altogether, your VO2 max is the maximum volume of oxygen in your blood, and how effective your body is at using that oxygen. The faster your body can process this oxygen, essentially the more you will be able to exercise. Leaving you with a quantitative value of endurance fitness.
Essentially, if you improve your VO2 max, you can improve your endurance cycling. Therefore, many keen cyclists may wish to include this cycling test in their training programmes. This can help to make a benchmark of their ability, and track their progress.
VO2 max is measured in ml/kg/min - which, translated, means millilitres per kilogram per minute. That equates to millilitres of oxygen, per kilogram of body weight, per minute.
The measurement looks at your cardiac output (how much blood is pumped to your muscles with each beat), and how efficiently your muscles are able to extract oxygen from that blood.
Testing for VO2 max is usually carried out in clinical and athletic testing, rather than being something you can easily and directly measure yourself. In order to do the test, your oxygen levels are measured whilst you complete physical activity, with increasing intensity.
This is usually carried out on a treadmill or stationary bike, such as a smart bike. You can perform our Health Assessment Test which will give you an accurate, though indirect, measure of your VO2 max. Meanwhile, ventilation is measured, as well as the concentration of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the inhaled and exhaled air.
When calculated, this results in your value in ml/kg/min, and this value is your VO2 max.
Genetics do play a role in how effectively your body can process oxygen as you exercise, but there is more to it than that. Some of the factors which affect VO2 max, include:
Improving your VO2 max takes a lot of work and consistent training. Monitoring your VO2 max can be pivotal in helping to improve your endurance. Over long distances, you will need the most efficiency from your body, to sustain you over a long race.
With our time-efficient plans and cycling workouts, you can train smart with the Wattbike Atom smart bike. You can improve your VO2 max by approaching your indoor cycling training consistently, and using a heart rate monitor. You can ensure you’re cycling close to your VO2 Max by training with a heart rate monitor. When you’re riding close to your maximum heart rate, you can consider that to be contributing to your VO2 max training. This is because the two values are so closely correlated.
While connecting to the Wattbike Hub on your indoor trainer, you can see realtime cycling data alongside your workout.
We have tailored workouts on our Wattbike Hub app, which allows you to select expertly-designed sessions to train on your indoor bike.
With the All Blacks, we have designed a VO2 Ladder workout to improve your max. The workout features 5 levels, where each level gets shorter but more intense:
Take 2 minutes rest between each level. Then enjoy a well-earned 5-minute cool-down.
Created by Dave Nichols PhD, to improve top-end aerobic capacity. This is a 60-minute workout which includes:
This 15-minute workout was also created by Dave Nichols PhD - and is suitable for anyone with moderate training experience looking to improve.
The workout is broken down into:
This 30-minute workout, again by Dave Nichols PhD, is suited for a cyclist with a busy schedule. Providing a worthwhile session in limited training time. The aim is to maintain your power output across 4 intervals.
The 30-minute session is split into:
Created by Mark himself, this workout is one of his regular indoor sessions. Suitable for more experienced cyclists, focus on controlling your breathing during the recoveries.
This 52-minute workout is broken into:
Mixing up your training types is important for improving your VO2 max. Keep in mind that just training flat out won’t be the only thing that can impact your results. You’ll need to be aware of the other factors which will have an impact on your VO2 max, so you can keep your goals realistic and achievable.