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Improve VO2Max

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  • z4osloz4oslo Posts: 211Member Member Posts: 211Member Member
    amandaeve wrote: »
    I totally recommend a VO2 max lab test. If I followed the Garmin model I would be off by more than a whole zone. Getting personalized zones has been incredibly helpful.

    Also, it seems like a few people here are confusing VO2 max with Max heart rate. Max heart rate is entirely dictated by Gene's and age. VO2 max is only to an extent, the rest varies by training style.

    I must disagree. The average Joe do not need a lab test. Frankly they dont need Garmin or anything else for that matter either.
    Sure, gadgets can be valuable, and they can be fun. They can be unhelpful as well as you pointed out yourself.

    We dont need to know what our VO2 max is, neither do we need to know our max hearth rate.
    What is needed is an understanding of how to train correct.

    For example, when I run, I need an understanding of how to apply a proper form, and how I can determine what "zone" im training in. My breathing will tell me when im training in z1/z2, and I promise you I will know when im running in zone 4 and 5

    I have Garmin, and many other gadgets as well, but boy is it nice to just go out and run once in a while, and not worry about hearth rate, stride, power and whats not.
  • ritzvinritzvin Posts: 2,297Member, Premium Member Posts: 2,297Member, Premium Member
    z4oslo wrote: »
    amandaeve wrote: »
    I totally recommend a VO2 max lab test. If I followed the Garmin model I would be off by more than a whole zone. Getting personalized zones has been incredibly helpful.

    Also, it seems like a few people here are confusing VO2 max with Max heart rate. Max heart rate is entirely dictated by Gene's and age. VO2 max is only to an extent, the rest varies by training style.

    I must disagree. The average Joe do not need a lab test. Frankly they dont need Garmin or anything else for that matter either.
    Sure, gadgets can be valuable, and they can be fun. They can be unhelpful as well as you pointed out yourself.

    We dont need to know what our VO2 max is, neither do we need to know our max hearth rate.
    What is needed is an understanding of how to train correct.

    For example, when I run, I need an understanding of how to apply a proper form, and how I can determine what "zone" im training in. My breathing will tell me when im training in z1/z2, and I promise you I will know when im running in zone 4 and 5

    I have Garmin, and many other gadgets as well, but boy is it nice to just go out and run once in a while, and not worry about hearth rate, stride, power and whats not.

    So much this imo. Sometimes it seems like there is a fair bit of OCD on these forums.
  • z4osloz4oslo Posts: 211Member Member Posts: 211Member Member
    amandaeve wrote: »
    ritzvin wrote: »
    z4oslo wrote: »
    amandaeve wrote: »
    I totally recommend a VO2 max lab test. If I followed the Garmin model I would be off by more than a whole zone. Getting personalized zones has been incredibly helpful.

    Also, it seems like a few people here are confusing VO2 max with Max heart rate. Max heart rate is entirely dictated by Gene's and age. VO2 max is only to an extent, the rest varies by training style.

    I must disagree. The average Joe do not need a lab test. Frankly they dont need Garmin or anything else for that matter either.
    Sure, gadgets can be valuable, and they can be fun. They can be unhelpful as well as you pointed out yourself.

    We dont need to know what our VO2 max is, neither do we need to know our max hearth rate.
    What is needed is an understanding of how to train correct.

    For example, when I run, I need an understanding of how to apply a proper form, and how I can determine what "zone" im training in. My breathing will tell me when im training in z1/z2, and I promise you I will know when im running in zone 4 and 5

    I have Garmin, and many other gadgets as well, but boy is it nice to just go out and run once in a while, and not worry about hearth rate, stride, power and whats not.

    So much this imo. Sometimes it seems like there is a fair bit of OCD on these forums.

    I totally agree with you for the Average Joe. However OP, like myself, seems particularly numbers-driven. I've been graphing out my heart rate, blood pressure, colors of clothes in my closet, you name it, for decades now. 80% of the reason I exercise at all is so I can chart the results. Maybe I'm weird and OCD, but I've also completely transformed my health. For a guy who's numbers-driven, he might as well be looking at the right numbers.

    Training correctly is more important than anything, but different personalities need different ways to get there. Your way is smart and affordable and surely the most sustainable method for most people, but it never would have gotten me off the couch.

    I totally get what you are saying. My point is that it is soo easy to overwhelm yourself with information, and quite frankly, it can do you more harm than good. I'm talking in general terms here, and not aimed towards you.

    I can only speak for myself, but the runs I enjoy the most, is the runs where I just go out and do just that. No music, no gadgets, just me, my footsteps and my breathing.
    It feels fantastic, and sounds better than any music track imho.
  • aokoyeaokoye Posts: 1,368Member Member Posts: 1,368Member Member
    z4oslo wrote: »
    amandaeve wrote: »
    I totally recommend a VO2 max lab test. If I followed the Garmin model I would be off by more than a whole zone. Getting personalized zones has been incredibly helpful.

    Also, it seems like a few people here are confusing VO2 max with Max heart rate. Max heart rate is entirely dictated by Gene's and age. VO2 max is only to an extent, the rest varies by training style.

    I must disagree. The average Joe do not need a lab test. Frankly they dont need Garmin or anything else for that matter either.
    Sure, gadgets can be valuable, and they can be fun. They can be unhelpful as well as you pointed out yourself.

    We dont need to know what our VO2 max is, neither do we need to know our max hearth rate.
    What is needed is an understanding of how to train correct.

    For example, when I run, I need an understanding of how to apply a proper form, and how I can determine what "zone" im training in. My breathing will tell me when im training in z1/z2, and I promise you I will know when im running in zone 4 and 5

    I have Garmin, and many other gadgets as well, but boy is it nice to just go out and run once in a while, and not worry about hearth rate, stride, power and whats not.

    Need and want are two different things. I don't think anyone said that there was a need to know any of this information. It's been primarily about what is needed to have accurate information. Performance related metrics are really fun for me.

    I mean one could just as easily argue that most people don't need to know how much they weigh. That doesn't mean that there are multiple threads about weight oneself daily on MFP's forums.
  • tsazanitsazani Posts: 591Member Member Posts: 591Member Member
    I think that this has been a great thread.

    I was hoping there was an easy LAZY way to increase my VO2Max. There isn't. If I keep doing what I'm going. And I'm perfectly content with my program. I'm going to stay where I am. Which is fine.

    But if I SERIOUSLY want to improve my VO2Max I'm going to have to personalize my exercise zones.

    I KNOW that the EKG / ECHO stress test is stopped once you reach your 220-age Max HR. They don't test to your REAL MaxHR.

    I also know that the 220-age is a RULE OF THUMB. But I like and trust rules of thumb. They are usually "good enough for horseshoes" and that's kind of what I was shooting at.
  • tsazanitsazani Posts: 591Member Member Posts: 591Member Member
    I try to use my resistance training sessions LIKE a HIIT session. If I can get a "twofer" I'll take it. I hope I'm not shortchanging myself trying to do this.

    For my 30 min full body resistance training sessions I do 7 sets. One for each major body part.

    My HR goes over 100% MaxHR on some sets. And in the 90s% on the others. I try to do my reps very slowly so I spend probably 40-60 seconds doing a set. Then I rest until my HR goes to 75% MaxHR. Usually 2-3 minutes.

    So out of my last 30 minute resistance training session:

    5 min are in RED zone. 15 min in YELLOW zone. 8 min in GREEN zone. And 2 min in BLUE zone. Polar Beat calls this "Maximum Tempo Training" which is as hard as they go. I HOPE I'm not overdoing it.

    My cardio is almost all GREEN zone. My yoga is almost all BLUE zone.
    DX2JX2 wrote: »
    tsazani wrote: »
    Somehow I broke my number one rule regarding exercise which is do not get hurt. I felt great yesterday morning no back pain so I did my normal resistance training with an average heart rate of 82% max heart rate. Today I did my normal yoga and now I have back pain again. It's depressing.

    Just a note...interval training can definitely be helpful but it's sometimes best to separate your resistance and cardio work. Resistance training should not regularly get your HR up to 80+% of max for a continuous period of time. If your 'resistance' workouts put you into this zone for an extended period of time, you are actually doing a really long interval of intense cardio work. This is not healthy and will pretty much guarantee injury. There's a reason that the intervals of really intense work in most HIIT/interval programs are pretty short.

    At the very least, by unintentionally turning your resistance training into HIIT programs, you are likely shortchanging both types of exercise.

    edited February 8
  • midwesterner85midwesterner85 Posts: 8,410Member Member Posts: 8,410Member Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    I try to use my resistance training sessions LIKE a HIIT session. If I can get a "twofer" I'll take it. I hope I'm not shortchanging myself trying to do this.

    For my 30 min full body resistance training sessions I do 7 sets. One for each major body part.

    My HR goes over 100% MaxHR on some sets. And in the 90s% on the others. I try to do my reps very slowly so I spend probably 40-60 seconds doing a set. Then I rest until my HR goes to 75% MaxHR. Usually 2-3 minutes.

    So out of my last 30 minute resistance training session:

    5 min are in RED zone. 15 min in YELLOW zone. 8 min in GREEN zone. And 2 min in BLUE zone. Polar Beat calls this "Maximum Tempo Training" which is as hard as they go. I HOPE I'm not overdoing it.

    My cardio is almost all GREEN zone. My yoga is almost all BLUE zone.
    DX2JX2 wrote: »
    tsazani wrote: »
    Somehow I broke my number one rule regarding exercise which is do not get hurt. I felt great yesterday morning no back pain so I did my normal resistance training with an average heart rate of 82% max heart rate. Today I did my normal yoga and now I have back pain again. It's depressing.

    Just a note...interval training can definitely be helpful but it's sometimes best to separate your resistance and cardio work. Resistance training should not regularly get your HR up to 80+% of max for a continuous period of time. If your 'resistance' workouts put you into this zone for an extended period of time, you are actually doing a really long interval of intense cardio work. This is not healthy and will pretty much guarantee injury. There's a reason that the intervals of really intense work in most HIIT/interval programs are pretty short.

    At the very least, by unintentionally turning your resistance training into HIIT programs, you are likely shortchanging both types of exercise.

    HIIT is a great way to improve VO2 Max. In fact, the proper way to increase VO2 Max is with intervals at high intensity. It's been awhile since last measured in a lab, but my HR at VO2 Max was 159 last it was checked. During part of my training cycle (as a runner), I do interval training 3 times weekly. Those interval runs include 6x3:00 at an intensity above VO2 Max (HR 160's-170's) with 3:00 recovery (slow down to decrease HR) in between. Runner's World (IIRC) had an article online in the past few days about HIIT and its benefit for VO2 Max. And of course, Jason Koop talks about interval runs in his book (Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance)... which is what my plan for this year is mostly based from.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Posts: 9,354Member Member Posts: 9,354Member Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    I try to use my resistance training sessions LIKE a HIIT session. If I can get a "twofer" I'll take it. I hope I'm not shortchanging myself trying to do this.

    For my 30 min full body resistance training sessions I do 7 sets. One for each major body part.

    My HR goes over 100% MaxHR on some sets. And in the 90s% on the others. I try to do my reps very slowly so I spend probably 40-60 seconds doing a set. Then I rest until my HR goes to 75% MaxHR. Usually 2-3 minutes.

    So out of my last 30 minute resistance training session:

    5 min are in RED zone. 15 min in YELLOW zone. 8 min in GREEN zone. And 2 min in BLUE zone. Polar Beat calls this "Maximum Tempo Training" which is as hard as they go. I HOPE I'm not overdoing it.

    My cardio is almost all GREEN zone. My yoga is almost all BLUE zone.
    DX2JX2 wrote: »
    tsazani wrote: »
    Somehow I broke my number one rule regarding exercise which is do not get hurt. I felt great yesterday morning no back pain so I did my normal resistance training with an average heart rate of 82% max heart rate. Today I did my normal yoga and now I have back pain again. It's depressing.

    Just a note...interval training can definitely be helpful but it's sometimes best to separate your resistance and cardio work. Resistance training should not regularly get your HR up to 80+% of max for a continuous period of time. If your 'resistance' workouts put you into this zone for an extended period of time, you are actually doing a really long interval of intense cardio work. This is not healthy and will pretty much guarantee injury. There's a reason that the intervals of really intense work in most HIIT/interval programs are pretty short.

    At the very least, by unintentionally turning your resistance training into HIIT programs, you are likely shortchanging both types of exercise.

    I think doing your resistance training HIIT style can reduce some benefits of the resistance training (slow reps have benefits, and doing speed safely can involve using lower weight . . . or doing speed at higher weights increases injury risk).

    To the bolded: Outside of certain medically extreme circumstances, your HRmax is literally the maximum heart rate you can reach doing an exercise. You don't exceed it. It's a limit.

    If, during routine (but intense) exercise, you're seeing a particularly high number, it's reasonable to assume that your HRmax is at least that number, and possibly higher. If you reset your device to show that number as HRmax, you'll be getting closer to accurate zones.
  • ritzvinritzvin Posts: 2,297Member, Premium Member Posts: 2,297Member, Premium Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    I think that this has been a great thread.

    I was hoping there was an easy LAZY way to increase my VO2Max. There isn't. If I keep doing what I'm going. And I'm perfectly content with my program. I'm going to stay where I am. Which is fine.

    But if I SERIOUSLY want to improve my VO2Max I'm going to have to personalize my exercise zones.

    I KNOW that the EKG / ECHO stress test is stopped once you reach your 220-age Max HR. They don't test to your REAL MaxHR.

    I also know that the 220-age is a RULE OF THUMB. But I like and trust rules of thumb. They are usually "good enough for horseshoes" and that's kind of what I was shooting at.

    The first (simple) step to do that from where you are right now, honestly, would be to simply add cardio. Period. Go run. Go cycle hills. Go rollerblading. Go paddling. Go hike mountains. Go whatever. Something that'll make you huff-and-puff a bit (and that you hopefully enjoy). Someone starting out is going to see major improvement without having to hit exact intensity zones. Preferably, some longer stretches at a pace where you feel you could go for quite a while/could converse with someone next to you along with some shorter stretches that make you feel out of breath and can barely speak. That'll improve your cardiovascular health/ability (and VO2max) whether you go have lab testing tell you some numbers or not. Improvement will be evident when your speed increases, you're able to go farther, new hills are doable without taking a walking break, you can keep up with people you couldn't keep up with before,...
  • awinner_auawinner_au Posts: 215Member Member Posts: 215Member Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    I try to use my resistance training sessions LIKE a HIIT session. If I can get a "twofer" I'll take it. I hope I'm not shortchanging myself trying to do this.

    For my 30 min full body resistance training sessions I do 7 sets. One for each major body part.

    My HR goes over 100% MaxHR on some sets. And in the 90s% on the others. I try to do my reps very slowly so I spend probably 40-60 seconds doing a set. Then I rest until my HR goes to 75% MaxHR. Usually 2-3 minutes.

    So out of my last 30 minute resistance training session:

    5 min are in RED zone. 15 min in YELLOW zone. 8 min in GREEN zone. And 2 min in BLUE zone. Polar Beat calls this "Maximum Tempo Training" which is as hard as they go. I HOPE I'm not overdoing it.

    My cardio is almost all GREEN zone. My yoga is almost all BLUE zone.


    Seeing you say you go over maxHR, all of your training is in the GREY zone. If you dont know your maxHR you cannot actually use zones as a training reference. 220-age gives me a maxHR of 162, ive just come back from a two hour ride where my averageHR was 153, so i spent 2 hours in the RED zone?
  • tsazanitsazani Posts: 591Member Member Posts: 591Member Member
    OK. So far my MaxHR = 171. So I'm going to set my Polar Beat to age 49 instead of my true age of 61. See how that goes.

    Last Monday when I went crazy during resistance training my heart rate hit a MAX of 171. It's the highest heart rate I've achieved this year. Second highest max was 169.

    So I'm basically a 49 year old undertraining as if I were a 61 year old.
    edited February 9
  • OldAssDudeOldAssDude Posts: 1,364Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,364Member, Premium Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    OK. So far my MaxHR = 171. So I'm going to set my Polar Beat to age 49 instead of my true age of 61. See how that goes.

    Last Monday when I went crazy during resistance training my heart rate hit a MAX of 171. It's the highest heart rate I've achieved this year. Second highest max was 169.

    So I'm basically a 49 year old undertraining as if I were a 61 year old.

    There should be a place in polar beats to set your max heart rate. No need to change your age.
  • tsazanitsazani Posts: 591Member Member Posts: 591Member Member
    "There should be a place in polar beats to set your max heart rate. No need to change your age."

    There is a place but it still defaults to 220-age=MaxHR. Lowering my age by 12 years will force it to do it right. I hope.

    I'm going to test it tomorrow. It's cardio day. I'm going to try to stay in the GREEN zone. Let's see what happens.
  • OldAssDudeOldAssDude Posts: 1,364Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,364Member, Premium Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    "There should be a place in polar beats to set your max heart rate. No need to change your age."

    There is a place but it still defaults to 220-age=MaxHR. Lowering my age by 12 years will force it to do it right. I hope.

    I'm going to test it tomorrow. It's cardio day. I'm going to try to stay in the GREEN zone. Let's see what happens.

    Changing your age will throw other metrics off.

    Just change the max heart rate in polar beats and save it. That is all you should have to do.
  • Duck_PuddleDuck_Puddle Posts: 2,342Member Member Posts: 2,342Member Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    "There should be a place in polar beats to set your max heart rate. No need to change your age."

    There is a place but it still defaults to 220-age=MaxHR. Lowering my age by 12 years will force it to do it right. I hope.

    I'm going to test it tomorrow. It's cardio day. I'm going to try to stay in the GREEN zone. Let's see what happens.

    You can change it in Polar Flow under your account profile (and probably on the web). It default to 220-age but you can Just type in the new number.

    Changing your age will affect the “fitness” test and how Polar assesses your VO2max range (they change with age).
    edited February 9
  • robertw486robertw486 Posts: 1,871Member, Greeter, Premium MFP Greeter Posts: 1,871Member, Greeter, Premium MFP Greeter
    Quite a bit of good discussion in this thread, but a couple of points really stood out to me.

    Psychgrrl wrote: »
    I’ve been able to move mine up bit by bit every year. I get tested annually in a fitness lab at the university where I work.

    I do 20 minutes of interval training 1-2 times per week. Along with all the other stuff that doesn’t really affect it.

    amandaeve wrote: »
    I totally recommend a VO2 max lab test. If I followed the Garmin model I would be off by more than a whole zone. Getting personalized zones has been incredibly helpful.

    Also, it seems like a few people here are confusing VO2 max with Max heart rate. Max heart rate is entirely dictated by Gene's and age. VO2 max is only to an extent, the rest varies by training style.


    First, just about every study relating to VO2max shows that improvements are greater only if people exercise more frequently up near or above their current VO2max. Oxygen deficit creates the demand and the body adapts. Shorter intervals up well beyond VO2max or longer intervals up just near the max seem to be debated, but nobody really debates that both impact improvements.

    And second, as for testing I personally don't think we have to go to a lab. But the only way to measure improvements is some type of baseline testing, and a lab does provide that. People can also do DIY testing if they are consistent in the type they choose. The final number in lab vs DIY will probably vary, but changes should show up reasonably similar with both. Keep in mind that even many studies state that VO2max can vary day to day, with weather, etc. Using an average of tests might help.


    Heart rate... Yeah, toss most of the formula's out the window IMHO. They work for some, not at all for others, and to some extent vary too much within an individual person to be a true gauge. They are also IMHO more impacted by training levels and/or intensities of training than we can account for accurately. I've set PB times on an exercise with HR levels below my norm, and I've had days where a normal workout gets my HR up beyond normal. Use what applies better to yourself.


    In my experience my overall HR trends were more impacted by volume of cardio. My overall VO2max trends seem to be more impacted by intensity. Both is best, but I don't always make time for both.
  • tsazanitsazani Posts: 591Member Member Posts: 591Member Member
    I pushed my birthday back 12 years and did cardio. For the first time since I've been using my Polar Beat it FELT like REAL cardio. Using 220-age in GREEN zone always FELT too easy.

    Ave HR over 30 min = 74% MHR. I even sweated a bit. I could sing as I exercised but not easily. Burned a few more calories too.

    Tomorrow I'm going to do cardio again but with my correct birthday AND putting MHR = 171. See how it feels.

  • OldAssDudeOldAssDude Posts: 1,364Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,364Member, Premium Member
    tsazani wrote: »
    I pushed my birthday back 12 years and did cardio. For the first time since I've been using my Polar Beat it FELT like REAL cardio. Using 220-age in GREEN zone always FELT too easy.

    Ave HR over 30 min = 74% MHR. I even sweated a bit. I could sing as I exercised but not easily. Burned a few more calories too.

    Tomorrow I'm going to do cardio again but with my correct birthday AND putting MHR = 171. See how it feels.

    Dude. Are you listening to anything anybody is telling you?

    OMG!
  • tsazanitsazani Posts: 591Member Member Posts: 591Member Member
    OldAssDude. Yes. I listen to everybody. I'm just playing around with my toys. I'm still doing the exercise. IMHO 80% of exercise success is just showing up.

    You do know that 80% of the adult population doesn't even do the minimum recommendations of exercise. So just showing up puts me in the top 20%.

    I wanted to see what exercising like a 220-age = MaxHR 49 year old would feel like. It felt like cardio used to feel when I didn't use "instruments". For the first time in months.
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