How to get your VO2 max up to an excellent rating.

2

Replies

  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,792 Member
    There's a link up thread that gives a description of VO2 max. My two cents is that while the VO2 concept and measurement provides a good barometer for fitness among the general population, I don't suspect its anywhere near as useful as FTP and power/weight for cyclists.

    With that said, please note that I'm no expert at either cycling or exercise science and would defer to others who are more savvy regarding usefulness to cyclists.
  • Avidkeo
    Avidkeo Posts: 3,157 Member
    I run. I run every day. I have noticed that my vo2max has JUMPED!

    mag2zxwajkm8.jpg
    emcvsodr3e4g.jpg

    You can see its steady increase since December when I started running every day. There is no way I'm in the the top 5% of my age group (I'm 37 for the record).

    But it's kinda fun to see it this high!
  • magnusthenerd
    magnusthenerd Posts: 1,207 Member
    Does Garmin weight running more highly? I'm kind of disinclined to believe my 50 (it calculated with my new watch, and doesn't even represent my summer capacity) if someone who cycles a lot is at 40.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,835 Member
    In response to a couple of recent posts: I believe there is a genetic component in VO2max, though in an individual it can be increased via training . . . in that sense, somewhat analogous to genetic potential for hypertrophy, I guess. It's not entirely training effects. If the actual measurement is higher than you'd expect, perhaps you just drew a lucky card genetically.

    (Of course I acknowledge that the trackers could simply be inaccurate - dunno. ;) ).
  • awinner_au
    awinner_au Posts: 249 Member
    Being told that you are in the top 5% or 10% in your age group is a great boost to the ego, however everyone i ride with is in that category so when you are barely hanging on to the group everything is brought into perspective :D
  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,792 Member
    awinner_au wrote: »
    Being told that you are in the top 5% or 10% in your age group is a great boost to the ego, however everyone i ride with is in that category so when you are barely hanging on to the group everything is brought into perspective :D

    Truth....
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,103 Member
    @jhanleybrown : IMHO, it is a useful statistic that certainly sums up your aerobic capacity nicely. To really measure it, you'd have to go to a clinic where they put a special respirator on you and have you ride a stationary bike or run on a treadmill. Places that do it also will measure your %BF and things like that.

    If you don't want to do that, you can try any of the approximate methods listed on the internet, such as these:

    https://www.revelsports.com/Articles/VO2_Max.asp

    Or, you can buy a Garmin watch and let it do it's mysterious vodoo for you.

    Again, unless you have a bicycle power meter of some sort, I'm not sure how much I trust the cycling estimates.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,835 Member
    FWIW, Concept 2 has a VO2max estimator on their website (https://www.concept2.com/indoor-rowers/training/calculators/vo2max-calculator) based on one's PR 2K time, bodyweight, and whether you consider yourself highly trained or not.

    It estimates me at 30.65-35.48, somewhat lower than Garmin, and in the high side of "average" to "good" range for my age/gender (64/F), lower than Garmin's estimate of 36/excellent. (The range is from changing the training setting, which is binary; I'm probably likely to be midway based on self-assessment as kinda trained ;) .)
  • Djproulx
    Djproulx Posts: 2,792 Member
    While I would be pleasantly surprised if my VO2 information was accurate, As @sijomial mentioned up thread, I think it is not particularly actionable other than as a periodic check against other more granular (and useful) measurements. Specifically in the case of cycling, FTP and the ability to clear lactate seems a more relevant factor to watch, and power to weight ratio seems a better “scorecard” to measure fitness/power relative to other cyclists. For running, a threshold test to measure HR and ability to hold various paces is more telling as well.
    So @awinner_au and I share a similar point of view, that is that a VO2 “rating” is forgotten when your friends are punishing you during a ride, lol!
    zpszggbcx2cb.png
  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,632 Member
    @Jthanmyfitnesspal
    @AnnPT77

    I think VO2 max estimators such as Garmin and Concept2 are in the realms of "interesting" but not a lot of real use and open to being influenced by other factors.

    Apparently when I used to indoor row a bit I got from a VO2 max of 44 to 48 using the Concept2 estimate in fairly short time - the question mark over that is did I simply improve my technique rather than boost my aerobic conditioning? (Probably a bit of both.)
    What was of more validity is that I got faster over the same 2K distance - a true measure of performance.

    It's part of the popularity of power meters in cycling is that you get true data rather than an interpretation. I know my 20min power is significantly down this winter compared to this time last year but a big improvement from Autumn when I was coming back from a few injuries.

    VO2 max (and max HR) testing in a lab to failure is a fascinating experience, but hugely fatiguing. Worth it as a learning experience but not something you would want to do frequently. That's where IMHO the Garmin rough estimate comes in - no extra effort or training compromises required. A bit like bathroom scales - the trend tells a story but with a load of fluctuations along the way.
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,835 Member
    sijomial wrote: »
    @Jthanmyfitnesspal
    @AnnPT77

    I think VO2 max estimators such as Garmin and Concept2 are in the realms of "interesting" but not a lot of real use and open to being influenced by other factors.

    Apparently when I used to indoor row a bit I got from a VO2 max of 44 to 48 using the Concept2 estimate in fairly short time - the question mark over that is did I simply improve my technique rather than boost my aerobic conditioning? (Probably a bit of both.)
    What was of more validity is that I got faster over the same 2K distance - a true measure of performance.

    It's part of the popularity of power meters in cycling is that you get true data rather than an interpretation. I know my 20min power is significantly down this winter compared to this time last year but a big improvement from Autumn when I was coming back from a few injuries.

    VO2 max (and max HR) testing in a lab to failure is a fascinating experience, but hugely fatiguing. Worth it as a learning experience but not something you would want to do frequently. That's where IMHO the Garmin rough estimate comes in - no extra effort or training compromises required. A bit like bathroom scales - the trend tells a story but with a load of fluctuations along the way.

    Completely agree. (Perhaps I should've expanded on the "FWIW" I started with. I mentioned the C2 estimator only for the interest of comparing a couple of different estimators, neither of which I'd consider deeply reliable.) Y'all who are cyclists (with power meters) have metrics available to you, that are not necessarily accessible for other sports.

    I can get watts from my C2, which is interesting but kind of irrelevant to me. What I used to really care about when training was the pace I could sustain for a race distance, which is a combination of technique, raw strength, endurance, and more . . . and I cared about on-the-water performance much more than machine. (The old saw among rowers is the ergs don't float: The fastest machine rower isn't necessarily the fastest on the water.) There are few useful metrics, other than the performance itself. (My performance was never all that great. ;) ).
  • CoreyLust
    CoreyLust Posts: 42 Member
    edited March 2020
    Unfortunately none of these garmin vo2max readings are accurate unless you are running on the flat in a vacumn as they don't consider wind factor, temperature, ascent, or elevation. Just to name a few important variables they don't consider. Not to mention it calculates most of this off heart rate versus pace which is a monumental waste of time.
  • dewd2
    dewd2 Posts: 2,449 Member
    CoreyLust wrote: »
    Unfortunately none of these garmin vo2max readings are accurate unless you are running on the flat in a vacumn as they don't consider wind factor, temperature, ascent, or elevation. Just to name a few important variables they don't consider. Not to mention it calculates most of this off heart rate versus pace which is a monumental waste of time.

    If you follow the directions they are surprisingly accurate. If you allow it to automagically figure it out for you then, yes, it doesn't consider all of this.
  • CoreyLust
    CoreyLust Posts: 42 Member
    dewd2 wrote: »
    CoreyLust wrote: »
    Unfortunately none of these garmin vo2max readings are accurate unless you are running on the flat in a vacumn as they don't consider wind factor, temperature, ascent, or elevation. Just to name a few important variables they don't consider. Not to mention it calculates most of this off heart rate versus pace which is a monumental waste of time.

    If you follow the directions they are surprisingly accurate. If you allow it to automagically figure it out for you then, yes, it doesn't consider all of this.

    I've been mucking around with the latest and most expensive versions of these Garmin watches since they came out in 2003.

    I've just reread what you wrote 4 times (and I'm hardly illiterate) however I have absolutely no idea what you are trying to say...

    Following directions?

    Allowing it to automagically figure it out for me?

    What are you even talking about?
  • CoreyLust
    CoreyLust Posts: 42 Member
    edited March 2020
    dewd2 wrote: »
    Are you not aware of the test built into many of the recent Garmins? It will guide you through measuring your VO2max. It should be done with an HRM strap and on a flat surface where the workout can be done without interruptions. The weather should be good (temp, wind, and surface should be dry). You also should know your max hr (I cheated at this as it was tested during my VO2max test).

    The other way (the way most here are doing it) is to allow the watch to figure out your VO2max during normal exercise and without the aid of an accurate HRM (the watch is not always accurate). This number can jump all over the place because the watch has no idea what the environment is like nor what your workout purpose it. Add the HRM often giving bad readings and you tend to get inaccurate results.

    I am very aware of the 'tests' built into them. You clearly have not comprehended my initial post.

    And what you are describing is basically what I said.

    Try and create a vacuum lol. Then let it determine all this based on your heart rate compared to your pace.

    Sorry but that doesn't make any sense.

    Heart rate is impacted on by too many things for even this to be accurate.

    So once you have found your nice flat ground, at a specific elevation, at a specific temperature, with no wind, and your fatigue levels are precisely the same, and your caffeine input is zero, and your life stressors are consistent, and oh so many more factors that impact on heart rate are the same.

    Run the test.

    Then later on make sure all of these variables are precisely the same and run the test again.

    All the while with a cheap little heart rate strap or the horribly schizophrenic optical sensor.

    Ha. Amusing.

    All this to get a number, that let's face it is not accurate even if you take things to the more or less impossibly extreme example I've outlined above (which you would have to do).

    VO2max is not measured like this when doing real science for a reason.

    Not to mention V02max is more a factor of genetics than training. You can increase it a little but not that much.

    This 'feature' of Garmins is just a gimmick being touted as 'science'. Any scientific method trying to draw conclusions in this manner is foolish.

    Like I said I have owned these things since their inception.

    But I have also spent the last 4 years heavily involved in studying and researching sports and exercise science. Coupled with over 20 years of practical experience.

    Let's just say I am educated and experienced enough on the matter to now fully comprehend that these things are really just toys.
  • MikePfirrman
    MikePfirrman Posts: 3,112 Member
    edited March 2020
    I honestly think Concept2 has the "highly trained" and "not trained" reversed. Back a couple of years ago, when I did my PB 2K row, it said, assuming I was "highly trained", that my VO2 Max was in the high 50s. But if I entered it in as not trained, it was around a 44, which is a lot more reasonable. Highly trained should not go up, but down, taking into account form and efficiency. The original study defined highly trained as anyone that was over 4 days a week of rowing (I do 6). I've done an hour FTP test last year and tested around 244 (I'm 55). Rowing versus Biking gets dicey on FTP. I know (younger Masters) guys that row full hours that produce roughly 230 Watts avg that can average 300 on the WattBike, so it's apples and oranges. Biking is way more efficient related to Watts.

    Lindsay H, an Australian Masters Indoor Champ, once noted that his VO2 Max, according to the calculator was in the high 50s or low 60s. He's a guy that did a low 6:40 in his 60s, so the Aussie Over the water Olympic team took him in a lab to "study" him. His real VO2 Max was like 45, still ridiculous for a 65 year old. What they ended up finding out was more impressive about him was his ability to work with incredible amount of lactic acid buildup (he could enter a pain cave few could relate to).
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 24,835 Member
    CoreyLust wrote: »
    dewd2 wrote: »
    Are you not aware of the test built into many of the recent Garmins? It will guide you through measuring your VO2max. It should be done with an HRM strap and on a flat surface where the workout can be done without interruptions. The weather should be good (temp, wind, and surface should be dry). You also should know your max hr (I cheated at this as it was tested during my VO2max test).

    The other way (the way most here are doing it) is to allow the watch to figure out your VO2max during normal exercise and without the aid of an accurate HRM (the watch is not always accurate). This number can jump all over the place because the watch has no idea what the environment is like nor what your workout purpose it. Add the HRM often giving bad readings and you tend to get inaccurate results.

    I am very aware of the 'tests' built into them. You clearly have not comprehended my initial post.

    And what you are describing is basically what I said.

    Try and create a vacuum lol. Then let it determine all this based on your heart rate compared to your pace.

    Sorry but that doesn't make any sense.

    Heart rate is impacted on by too many things for even this to be accurate.

    So once you have found your nice flat ground, at a specific elevation, at a specific temperature, with no wind, and your fatigue levels are precisely the same, and your caffeine input is zero, and your life stressors are consistent, and oh so many more factors that impact on heart rate are the same.

    Run the test.

    Then later on make sure all of these variables are precisely the same and run the test again.

    All the while with a cheap little heart rate strap or the horribly schizophrenic optical sensor.

    Ha. Amusing.

    All this to get a number, that let's face it is not accurate even if you take things to the more or less impossibly extreme example I've outlined above (which you would have to do).

    VO2max is not measured like this when doing real science for a reason.

    Not to mention V02max is more a factor of genetics than training. You can increase it a little but not that much.

    This 'feature' of Garmins is just a gimmick being touted as 'science'. Any scientific method trying to draw conclusions in this manner is foolish.

    Like I said I have owned these things since their inception.

    But I have also spent the last 4 years heavily involved in studying and researching sports and exercise science. Coupled with over 20 years of practical experience.

    Let's just say I am educated and experienced enough on the matter to now fully comprehend that these things are really just toys.

    Ummmm . . . I think we pretty much all know it's an estimate, not a measurement.

    Not sure why your PP even called it a VO2max "reading". It's not. It's an algorithmic estimate, based on statistics from research test results. Kind of like the devices' calorie estimates.

    I don't think anyone else here has a delusion that it's anything other than that.
  • Duck_Puddle
    Duck_Puddle Posts: 3,227 Member
    dewd2 wrote: »
    Are you not aware of the test built into many of the recent Garmins? It will guide you through measuring your VO2max. It should be done with an HRM strap and on a flat surface where the workout can be done without interruptions. The weather should be good (temp, wind, and surface should be dry). You also should know your max hr (I cheated at this as it was tested during my VO2max test).

    The other way (the way most here are doing it) is to allow the watch to figure out your VO2max during normal exercise and without the aid of an accurate HRM (the watch is not always accurate). This number can jump all over the place because the watch has no idea what the environment is like nor what your workout purpose it. Add the HRM often giving bad readings and you tend to get inaccurate results.

    Where can I find more info on this? I wasn’t aware that there was a specific test procedure and I’ve reviewed the documentation I could find for my watch and don’t see anything about it?

    My watch produces a new vo2max estimate every time I run outside for more than 10 minutes. Is there a way to turn that off (after doing the test)?

    I’m genuinely curious as my vo2max estimate is roughly 20-25% higher than I would expect it to be (and the race and other predictions Via (Garmin/firstbeat & elsewhere) based on it are also about 20-25% high (or low-whichever way is the “better”)).

    While I don’t really care all that much what my vo2max is, and I know it’s an estimate, I do still assume the general trends to be reasonable. So if there’s a way to improve those estimates, I’d love to know more.
  • Jthanmyfitnesspal
    Jthanmyfitnesspal Posts: 3,103 Member
    @CoreyLust : You're being too dismissive. The VO2max estimate of the Garmin devices follows well-established (and published) protocols. Like many things, it is neither perfect nor is it merely a "gimmick." I would call it a useful feature with some level of inaccuracy.

    You can learn about it in the company "white paper" (which has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but it does have a nice list of references).

    https://assets.firstbeat.com/firstbeat/uploads/2017/06/white_paper_VO2max_30.6.2017.pdf