Below we have a simple VO2 Max calculator that will give you a baseline reading of your current VO2 Max capacity. This is a useful measure of cardiorespiratory fitness and maximal aerobic capacity.
The higher your score, the better your current fitness levels.
We also have tables showing an estimated physical fitness level based on your age, gender and the VO2 Max reading.
Get Your Score With Our VO2 Max Calculator
How The Calculator Works
As you can see in the VO2 Max calculator, there are five methods to measure your maximal oxygen uptake:
- Resting heart rate test – The simplest method. Enter your resting heart rate (beats per 20 seconds) to get a VO2 Max score.
- Rockport Fitness Walking Test – The famous one mile walk test. Walk for 1 mile at a brisk pace (without jogging) then record the test completion time and your pulse rate at the end.
- 3 Minute Step Test – This will require a 16 inch bench or step, and a metronome or cadence tape. You set a 3 minute timer and step up and down in a 4-beat sequence. Right foot UP, left UP, right DOWN, left DOWN). Women should take 22 steps per minute. Men should take 24 steps per minute. [See more on the test here]. After 3 minutes, record your pulse (beats per 15 seconds) in our calculator above.
- 1.5 Mile Walk or Run Test – Another simple method. Warm up and then run 1.5 miles as fast as you can. Enter your finish time in the calculator.
VO2 Max Fitness Scores For Men By Age
Here we have male fitness levels rated based on your VO2 Max and age.
VO2 Max Fitness Scores For Women By Age
Here we have female fitness levels rated based on your VO2 Max and age.
What Is VO2 Max?
Your VO2 MAX number is a measurement of how much oxygen your body can take in and use (maximal oxygen uptake). It’s useful as a measure of your cardiovascular fitness and a great way of charting progress on your fitness journey.
VO2 Max is measured in ml/kg/min (milliliters per kilogram per minute).
The “score” you see on smart watches and fitness trackers is representative of this calculation.
How Is It Tested?
VO2 Max is typically measured during intense exercise, usually by running on a treadmill or cycling.
The most accurate readings require comprehensive lab testing that can closely track your oxygen consumption levels. This is expensive and usually only undertaken by elite athletes.
(If you’re interested, simply Google ‘VO2 Max Lab Tests Near Me‘)
The lab tests will vary in design, but they will accurately measure your VO2 Max in a way that smart watches and fitness trackers aren’t yet able to match.
Your heart rate will be monitored throughout the test and several other measurements like blood pressure and breathing will be taken before, after and even between tests to create a full picture of how hard you’re working. The harder you’re working, the higher your heart rate will be and the quicker you’ll breathe – both factors that affect VO2 Max readings.
There are various ways you can test your VO2 Max capacity yourself (see our calculator above), and while they are not as reliable as a lab reading, they are a good baseline reading that you can use to track relative improvements.
Can I Improve My Score?
Your “starting” VO2 Max level is largely genetic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t improve it – as long as you exercise regularly and keep your body in good shape.
Cardio exercises like running and biking will help raise your VO2 Max capacity. Increasing the intensity of your workouts will also boost numbers.
There are three key workouts that will dramatically improve your VO2 Max score:
- Interval training – This is basically an “easy workout” combined with several bursts of intense activity that push you towards your maximum heart rate. For example, a slow jog with 10 x 100 meter sprints.
- Hill sessions – One of the go-to workout types for anybody looking to add power, speed and endurance at the same time. Running up hills in 2-3 minute sets will lead to more efficient oxygen consumption.
- HIIT (high intensity interval training) – There are many HIIT workouts available: short bursts of intense exercise that get the heart pounding – just don’t do them every day!
Of course, you can improve your VO2 Max through cycling, rowing, or any other cardio based workout.
To understand how much progress is possible, we only need to compare the VO2 Max of the average sedentary adult to an elite athlete.
The best male endurance runners have been shown to have VO2 maxes of up to 85 mL/kg/min, whereas a sedentary male in his 30s will have a VO2 max of around 35-40 mL/kg/min.
While genetics can and do play a part, the biggest driver of VO2 Max gains is from training hard at your maximum heart rate threshold.
Does VO2 Max Capacity Change By Age?
Age is a common factor in predicting VO2 max with the most accurate formula being HRmax-HRrest/220-age.
However, this formula does vary somewhat from study to study. In general, though:
- <18 yrs old – VO2 Max of about 50 ml/kg/min
- 20s – 55 ml/kg/min
- 30-39ys – 50 ml/kg/min
- 40-49yrs – 45 ml/kg/min
- 50-59yrs – 40 ml/kg/min
- 60-69yrs – 35 ml.kg/min
- 70+ years – 30 ml/kg/min
What Are The Benefits of a Higher VO2 Max Score?
A higher VO2 Max means your heart, lungs and other organs are all working better. It shows you have a higher daily exercise capacity to work at.
It’s also an important factor in predicting longevity – the higher your VO2 Max score, the longer you’re likely to live.
This is because of its relationship with oxygen use efficiency. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for men and women over 65 years old; if you can raise your VO2 Max reading, it lowers your risk of cardiovascular problems like heart attack or stroke down the line.
However, there are other factors that must be taken into account as well like diet, smoking habits (if you smoke, quitting will improve results greatly), general health and physical activity level – because even if you have the highest VO2 Max reading possible, that won’t help much if your body can’t use it
Are There Any Benefits to a Low VO2 Max Score?
It’s debatable whether there are any benefits to having a low VO2 Max reading, but for endurance athletes in high-level competition it can be an advantage.
Low oxygen use efficiency often comes with higher blood volume. That means your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump that much oxygen around the body, which makes it all the easier to push through long races or training workouts. Low VO2 Max scores are also associated with better endurance because their bodies become more efficient at conserving energy when they’re working at lower intensities.
How Accurate Is The VO2 Max Reading on Smartphones and Fitness Trackers?
While many of the popular fitness trackers and phone apps claim to use VO2 Max readings to measure daily progress towards fitness goals, they’re often inaccurate.
But as technology improves, they are getting much better.
For example, several fitness watches (including Garmin) make use of Firstbeat Technology’s Fitness Test, which has been shown in studies to have around 95% accuracy in matching lab-performed VO2 Max tests.
It’s also important to keep in mind that even when performed by elite athletes under lab conditions with accurate measurements being taken, these tests are never 100% precise either – because it’s all about approximations rather than exact science.
Does it matter that the readings aren’t 100% accurate?
We don’t think so.
These calculations are imperfect but good enough to be useful.
It’s a good habit to keep an eye on the Vo2 Max reading on your Garmin, smartwatch or fitness tracking app.
Establish a baseline score and any improvement or deterioration to your rating will be a useful indicator that your training is working – or not.
Our VO2 Max Calculator is a good indicator of relative physical fitness levels. But there are far too many variables to provide a “definitive” reading of your ability to use oxygen efficiently without spending a LOT of money on expensive lab tests.
See also: our race pace charts.