VO2 Max Calculator – Aerobic Capacity

Created by Filip Derma and Łucja Zaborowska, MD, PhD candidate
Reviewed by Bogna Szyk and Steven Wooding
Based on research by
Hawkins MN, Raven PB, Snell PG, Stray-Gundersen J, Levine BD. Maximal oxygen uptake as a parametric measure of cardiorespiratory capacity. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (January 2007)See 1 more source
McArdle WD, Katch FI, Katch VL. Essentials of Exercise Physiology, 3rd ed. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia (2006)
Last updated: Dec 19, 2022

VO2 max calculator is intended for every sportsperson who wants to find their maximal aerobic capacity value. This parameter is crucial in terms of any endurance sport and allows you to train effectively as well as properly. In the article on this page, we prepared some brief information about what VO2 max is, how to calculate VO2 max, a description of VO2 max tests, and an explanation of how to use this aerobic capacity calculator.

💡 We also have a dedicated VO2 max calculator for runners – the VO2 max runners calculator.

What is VO2 max?

The term VO2 max means the same as maximal aerobic capacity, maximal oxygen uptake or maximal oxygen consumption. This parameter describes the amount of oxygen the individual's body can utilize in one minute. It is a popular indicator of physical efficiency (especially aerobic efficiency). Moreover, it is a good predictor of your potential as an endurance athlete or even an indicator of future health.

A lot of training is based on the VO2 max percentage value to specify their intensity (see the training pace calculator). As you can see, knowing your VO2 max is essential if you want to train consciously with a progressive sports attitude. If you're a more well-rounded athlete, checking your one-rep max number may also give you valuable insights (see one-rep max calculator).

If you want to check your heart muscle's oxygen consumption, we've got a tool for that – the rate pressure product calculator.

VO2 max calculator

The VO2 max calculator offers you five different VO2 max formula-based methods for calculating your maximal aerobic capacity. Each of them (except for the first one) requires you to perform a different test activity. After collecting the essential data during the test, you only need to enter them into the calculator fields – immediately afterward, you can see your maximal aerobic capacity value in ml/kg/min units. These methods are based on the following:

  • Resting heart rate value;
  • One-mile walk test;
  • Three minutes step test;
  • 1.5-mile walk or run test; and
  • Indoor rowing for 2000 m.
Rowing indoors as a VO2 max test

Each of the methods is explained in detail in the section below. Choose a test that will be the most convenient and easy to perform for you. You can also choose a few of them and compare the results. However, the results should be pretty similar, without a big difference.

You might also be interested in our race time improvement calculator.

VO2 max test

Take a closer look at the VO2 max formula-based methods used for VO2 max estimation in our aerobic capacity calculator.

  1. Resting heart rate value. The easiest, fastest, and nicest of all the ways. There is no physical activity required. You only need to count your heartbeats per 20 seconds while resting. Then, put this value and your age into the calculator.

  2. One-mile walk test. Firstly, you should find an appropriate location to walk precisely 1 mile (1609 meters). You can use a device with a built-in GPS to measure the accurate distance. Secondly, do some basic stretching and warm up before the test. Then set off the stopwatch and begin walking as quickly as you can, but do not run! At the end of 1 mile, stop the stopwatch immediately and count your pulse per 10 seconds. Put the data into the calculator, and also fill in your age and weight and select your sex.

  3. Three minutes step test. This test is based on stepping up 16.25 inches (0.41 m) from ground level. You will also need a stopwatch and a metronome.

    As previously, do some basic stretching and warm up before the test. Try to practice stepping up and down, according to the sequence: the left leg up, then the right, then the left leg down, and the right. Repeat that sequence for 3 minutes during the test.

    If you are male, set the metronome to 96 beats/minute; if female, set it to 88 beats/minute. For each beat of the metronome, take one step, e.g., first beat – the left leg up, second – right leg up, third – left leg down, etc.

    After exactly 3 minutes, stop the test, wait for 5 seconds, and check your pulse for 15 seconds. Input the pulse into the aerobic capacity calculator and select your sex. Check out your result.

  4. 1.5 mile walk or run test. The aim of this test is to cover the distance as fast as you can. Both running and walking are allowed. Find a good location for running and measure out the distance of exactly 1.5 miles (2414 m). You will use a stopwatch to measure your time. If your body isn't used to that kind of sports activity, a few practice runs before the test day might be essential. The test is demanding, and you should know how to pace yourself over the distance. That might have a significant influence on your result.

    Make a few days of rest after the practice runs, and take the test afterward. Don't forget to do some warm-up and stretching before the runs. After the test, cool down for a few minutes. Put your result time into the calculator and read out your VO2 max value.

  5. Indoor rowing for 2000 m. The test is based on your best time on 2000 m distance rowing using an indoor rower. If you are not familiar with that kind of machine, do some practice before. Use the damper setting that enables you to get the best 2000 m result.

    In the calculator, you need to select your sex and fill in your weight and training level. If you have been rowing regularly for several years, training at least four days per week, and doing a variety of workout types, we suggest selecting 'Highly trained'. Otherwise, if you are more like a fitness rower and do exercising and rowing without pushing your limits, choose 'Not highly trained'.

How to calculate VO2 max?

Let's do an example calculation. For this purpose, we will use the one-mile walk test.

  1. First, do the walking test (a detailed description of how to do this properly is in the section above).

  2. Measure your time and pulse. Let's say that walk time = 16 min 10 sec and pulse = 20 beats / 10 sec.

  3. Then, enter this data into the calculator. Moreover, additional information about your sex, age, and weight.

    sex = male, age = 32 years, weight = 78 kg

  4. Read out your result.

    VO2 max = 42 ml/kg/min

Filip Derma and Łucja Zaborowska, MD, PhD candidate
Test method
Method
Resting heart rate
Personal data
Age
years
Resting heart rate
beats / 20 sec
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