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Abracadabra... Calculate your VO2 Max for free!

VO2-Max Calculator

Enter Time, and Distance in Kilometers

VO2 Max (Maximum Oxygen Uptake) Calculator

based on Dr. Kenneth Cooper's formula for calculating VO2 Max

Estimate How Much Oxygen your body will process


VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be taken from circulating blood and used by working tissues during a specified period of time.  The calculator above will give VO2 Max for a given distance between 1.5 km. and 50 kilometers, in the time that is entered. 
Dr. Kenneth Cooper's studies on Air Force personnel were published in 1968 in his book "Aerobics" which is the book that set the world running. In the Cooper Test, VO2 Max is calculated by the distance reached in 12 minutes.  The formula developed by Dr. Cooper is:

VO2 Max (in ml/min/kg) = Distance in 12 minutes, minus 505, divided by 45   

The general population aged 20 to 30 has V02 Max about 35 to 50 ml/kg/min, and this figure decreases considerably with aging.  As our capacity to process oxygen decreases with age, our energy decreases.  In extreme cases the lack of oxygen in our blood can cause a loss of neurons, which results in loss of memory and senility.
V02 Max can be increased with aerobic exercise (especially running, bicycle, and swimming) because this depletes oxygen in our blood.  When there is a lack of oxygen in our blood, as occurs at high altitude, the kidneys release the hormone Erithropoyetin ("EPO") which orders the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells.
Maximum Oxygen Uptake (VO2 Max) values for selected groups and individuals are as follows:
  • General Population, Female, Aged 20-29: 35-43 ml/kg/min 
  • General Population, Male, Aged 20-29: 44-51 
  • US College Track, Male: 57.4 
  • College Students, Male: 44.6 
  • Highest Recorded Female (Cross-Country Skier): 74 
  • Highest Recorded Male (Cross-Country Skier): 94 
  • Frank Shorter, US Olympic Marathon winner, 71.3
  • Jeff Galloway, US Runner, 73.0
  • Paula Ivan, Rumanian Olympic 1500M Record Holder, 71.0
  • Greg LeMond, professional cyclist, 92.5
  • Matt Carpenter, Pikes Peak Marathon course record holder, 92

Distance = 10 kms, VO2 Max decreases with time

  Distance   Time  VO2 Max

 10 kms 

30 min


   10 kms  40 min    51.9
   10 kms  50 min     40.0
   10 kms  60 min     32.3
   10 kms  70 min     26.8
Time = 12 min, VO2 Max increases with distance
  Distance   Time  VO2 Max
  2.0 kms  12 min   28.9
  2.4 kms  12 min   36.3
  2.8 kms  12 min   43.9
  3.2 kms  12 min   51.8
  3.6 kms  12 min   59.9
  4.0 kms  12 min   68.3

Precise measurements are done on a treadmill with equipment measuring oxygen uptake. You can use the following calculator to estimate your VO2 Max by entering a distance you have run, and the time it took you to run it. It should be at least 12 minutes running. The race distance should be between 1500 meters to 50 kilometers. Distances outside this range will not give meaningful results, since performance is limited by factors other than VO2 MAX.

You can use this calculator to predict your performance in other sports, or other distances. Once you find your VO2 MAX for one time and distance, try entering times for other distances that give the same or nearly the same value. 

Why is oxygen so important?

Oxygen is the body's fuel. Without oxygen, your body would slow and quit within a matter of seconds.

The ability to consume available oxygen is an indicator of how well your body can use fuel when it is working aerobically. VO2max refers to the amount of oxygen that your body takes up at any given time.

The V refers to a flow rate, which is a volume of oxygen per unit of time. We express the flow rate as millileters of oxygen per minute (mls/min). We usually further determine the flow per unit of body weight (mls of oxygen per kilogram per minute, or mls/kg/min), so that we can normalize the measurement - that is, we can now compare large individuals to small individuals.

Is VO2max the most important contributor to athletic ability?

There are many factors that go into the making of an elite athlete. Coordination, the will to win, and muscle strength are just a few of these factors. Some sports, such as racing medium to long distances, or endurance, rely heavily on having a high VO2max. Other sports, such as barrel racing, jumping or polo, are more heavily dependant on anaerobic metabolism.

If we look only at VO2max, we must consider the portions of the body that serve merely to transfer oxygen, before it is ever used as fuel.

First, the airways are essential in transferring oxygen to the lungs.

Examples of airway problems that slow down or block the delivery of oxygen to the lungs include laryngeal paralysis and small airway inflammatory disease.

Once the O2 is in your lungs, the blood vessels in the lungs must absorb the oxygen (and in return give up carbon dioxide, CO2), and bring this oxygenated blood to the heart.

The heart must send the oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. A well-trained heart increases in size and weight, and, ultimately, in strength of contraction.

When you are at maximal exercise, the muscles of motion receive the majority of available blood, whereas the blood supply to internal organs (such as the intestines and the kidney) is at a minimum.

Finally, the ultimate job of the blood supply is to deliver oxygen to mitochondria that exist within the cells. The mitochondria use oxygen to supply energy to the rest of the body.

Four factors limit oxygen consumption: the heart, lungs, red blood cells, and muscles.

The amount of oxygen brought into the body per minute is a dynamic measurement of the amount of blood the heart puts out. For every 1 liter of oxygen consumed, the heart puts out approximately 5-6 liters of blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen, so a lack of red blood cells (ie, "anemia") decreases the amount of oxygen that is circulating, and a plentiful amount of red blood cells allows oxygen to reach all the cells in the body.

To summarize, you need high capacity airways and healthy lungs... a large, powerful heart... A plentiful red blood cell supply because red blood cells carry oxygen... And an abundance of mitochondria within the cells to process the oxygen.

The best human athletes have a VO2max of approximately 80 mls/kg/min.

How can I improve my VO2max?

The key to improve your V02max as well as athletic performance is to engage in progressively harder interval training. You can rotate between high intensity training, recovery sessions, and medium intensity days.

High intensity sessions should include aerobic exercise with one-minute intervals that raise heart rate as high as 195.

Good nutrition and exercise, of course, are basic.

But you must also avoid damage to your body. Of course it is basic that you should not smoke, you should not drink alcohol, and you should not consume addictive medicines or party drugs such as cocaine, heroine, etc.

Major improvements can be made through proper training, and good nutrition. The capacity of the heart to pump blood can be increased. The density and size of the blood vessels in the muscles increases with training.

Your body will naturally increase red blood cell volume at high altitude, and also when you deplete oxygen temporarily with aerobic exercise. This should include running, bicycling, and swimming.

This will increase the size of the muscles, and also the density of mitochondria within the muscles.

Interestingly, the lungs are the one link in the chain that do not have the capacity to improve, unless they were diseased in the first place. Breathing exercises can help a little bit, but lung capacity is almost a fixed quantity.

Elite athletes are probably born with more lung capacity and natural red blood cell volume and larger blood vessels and the size of the muscles themselves than are, for instance, the average sedentary person. And they will always be faster, no matter how hard the average person trains.

But bioidentical hormones such as growth hormone, testosterone, erithropoyetin (EPO) and other hormones which according to the rules of the Olympic Committee are illegal for athletes to use, can nonetheless help the average person to live longer and healthy. This is especially true in senior citizens.

These hormones probably activate telomerase in the cell nucleus. This extends or repairs telomeres, which are necessary to permit cells to divide and repair themselves. This prevents cell senescence, loss of muscle and neurons.

Speed is a function of neurons. It is extremely important to prevent loss of neurons, which is especially caused by high blood sugar. So eat correctly to prevent spikes in blood sugar is very important. Avoid high carbohydrate meals. Check your blood glucose often, and learn to interpret blood glucose.

See these related pages on this site:

  1. The Big Five Hormones: HGH, EPO, Testosterone, Insulin, Thyroid 



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The information provided on this site is provided for illustration purposes only and does not represent a proposal or specific recommendation. As a word of caution, the information presented cannot possibly substitute for competent medical advice. My treatment of health issues is general and specific to me, and is not intended as a comprehensive discussion of all relevant issues. Your health and mine will vary to some extent, and the applicability of what you decide with your doctor will depend upon your individual circumstances. If you have a particular question about the information presented, you can send me an e-mail and I will try my best to help you.

This page created November, 2011