Calculating Your VO2 Max

While BMI Calculators are an indicator of your health, the most accurate measure of your fitness is your VO2 Max.  Calculating your VO2 Max is essentially tells you how efficiently your body is able to convert energy from food into physical movement.

A high VO2 Max is important for endurance athletes, and it is something that will develop as you train harder over time.  VO2 Max is normally represented in terms of a ratio of milli-litres of oxygen / kilogram of body weight / per minute and as such allows you to compare your results with a competitor.

There are a number of ways of calculating your VO2 Max score.  To get the most accurate possible representation, you would need to actually measure the volume of oxygen you use during a set piece of exercise which requires specialised equipment.  This isn’t always practical, however it’s reasonably straightforward to get an accurate estimate of VO2 Max using the simpler Cooper Test.

The Cooper Test

The Cooper test was developed for the US Air Force during the 1950s to measure the fitness of airmen and determine their fitness for service.

To carry out the Cooper Test, you measure the distance in metres that you can run in 12 minutes at peak effort.  The following equation is used for calculating your VO2 Max:

VO2 Max Equation

Equation to calculate VO2 Max

As an example, if you were able to run 2.5KM in a 12 minute period, the calculation for your VO2 Max would be:

(2500-505)/45 = 44.33

Your VO2 Max score is always relative to your age and gender.  For a man aged 19, 44.33 would represent a “fair” VO2 Max, while for a woman aged 40, it would be “superior”:

VO2 Max Graph for Men

VO2 Values for Men

VO2 Max for women

VO2 Values for Women

For most regular people, both the Cooper test, and the performance bands outlined above are sufficient to determine VO2 Max values with a reasonable degree of accuracy – certainly enough to be able to measure health improvements over time.  Truly elite athletes will often have performance values for VO2 max that are off the normal scales.  The cyclist Greg Lemond often performed well above a VO2 Max of 88.

We’ve developed a VO2 Max calculator that uses your Cooper test results so you can track your fitness over time. Try it out here.

Calculating Your BMI

Your BMI, or Body Mass Index shows the relationship between your weight and height, and is a tool that medical professionals use in measuring your health.  For any given height, there is a range of ideal weights that correlates with better health.  People who’s weight fall outside the healthy level are typically at a higher risk of developing conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

Body Mass Index Chart

Chart for calculating your BMI

It is important to note, that your body mass index is essentially a measure of body density, and you are compared to a wider sample of people.  You can be perfectly healthy and have a BMI that falls out of the “normal range”.  People who train hard and have a greater muscle mass sometimes find that a BMI calculator will indicate that they are overweight, when in fact they are healthier than the average man in the street.

Because of this, when calculating your BMI, you should bear in mind that it is a guide to health compared to the wider population, and while an objective for your fitness programme might be to get a healthier score, you should also focus on other fitness measures such as VO2Max, or body fat percentage.

Use our BMI Calculator to find out what your score is.

Introducing the Vytalz Daily Challenge

Getting fit should be fun if you’re going to stay motivated, and friendly competition is a bit part of that.  That’s why we’re introducing a new feature to Vytalz today.  A daily fitness challenge.  Everyday, we’ll be tweeting a link to a different fitness challenge that will take you less than 5 minutes to complete.

You don’t need to create a Vytalz profile to do the daily fitness challenge, just click through to it, enter some details, and hit start, then complete the challenge.  It’s as simple as can be.

Try today’s challenge - a blast of squat thrusts that will really work your leg and butt muscles.   Once you get to the page, simply fill in your weight and click go:

The challenge will start:

Challenge Underway

When you’ve finished, you’ll get a quick bit of performance feedback:

Challenge complete

Enjoy the challenges.