The VO2 Max Test: What Is The Ideal Range?

 VO2 Max Test - Photo credit: Cosmed

VO2 Max Test - Photo credit: Cosmed

 VO2 Max Test - Photo credit: Cosmed

VO2 Max Test - Photo credit: Cosmed

VO2 Max (also maximal oxygen consumptionmaximal oxygen uptakepeak oxygen uptake or maximal aerobic capacity) is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during incremental exercise (exercise of increasing intensity).

The name is derived from V - volume, O2 - oxygen, max - maximum. Maximal oxygen consumption reflects the overall cardiorespiratory fitness of an individual. It is an excellent way to assess an individual’s fitness level.

While it is true that the VO2 Max test can help determine endurance capacity during prolonged exercise, there’s a common misconception that only marathoners, cyclists and endurance athletes can benefit from the test.

Why is VO2 Max Important for individuals of all fitness levels?

VO2 max is widely used as an indicator of health. In 2016, the American Heart Association published a scientific statement recommending that cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), quantifiable as VO2 max, be regularly assessed and utilized as a clinical vital sign. This statement was based on mounting evidence that lower fitness levels are associated with high risk of cardiovascular disease, all-cause mortality, and mortality rates stemming from various types of cancers. In addition to risk assessment, the AHA recommendation cited the value measuring fitness for validating exercise prescription, physical activity counseling, and improving both patient management and patient health.

Conversely, good fitness level significantly reduces your likelihood of developing chronic illness. For both moderately active individuals and athletes, VO2max assessment is vital for training and performance. 

how VO2 Max is measured?


VO2 max is properly defined by the Fick equation:

Illustration of Ficks principle.JPG
 Source: Deranged Physiology, an online resource for Intensive Care Medicine.  learn more .

Source: Deranged Physiology, an online resource for Intensive Care Medicine. learn more.

VO2 max measurement through a modern metabolic cart during a graded exercise test on a treadmill

Accurately measuring VO2 max involves a physical effort sufficient in duration and intensity to fully tax the aerobic energy system. In general clinical and athletic testing, this usually involves a graded exercise test (either on a treadmill or on a cycle ergometer) in which exercise intensity is progressively increased while measuring:

  • ventilation and

  • oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration of the inhaled and exhaled air.

VO2 max is reached when oxygen consumption remains at a steady state despite an increase in workload.


What is the Ideal VO2 Max Range?




1- Select your gender using the dropdown bar at the top of the chart.

2- Identify your age group and your VO2 Max level on the chart. 

3- Identify the point where your x and y axis intersect. Depending on what color it falls under, you will be in one of then seven ranges (from “very poor” to “excellent”).