Your VO2max is the measure of how much oxygen your body is able to deliver to your muscles. Without oxygen, your muscles are not going to work. It stands to reason that the higher your VO2max, the more oxygen your muscles will have, the better they will perform. With me? If you can only increase one part of your endurance capability, this is it. There are plenty of things that increase it, but I’ll show you the absolute best way.
What Changes Your VO2max?
A large number of things will have an effect on your VO2max, although they all vary from person to person:
–Age: After the age of 20, it slowly decreases and by 65 you will have seen a 30% drop.
–Gender: On the whole, females have a lower VO2 max value, but this is actually due to body composition. In fact, the average female VO2max is about 20% lower than a male.
–Altitude: You probably know that the oxygen content of the air at higher altitudes is lower than at sea level. As a result, your VO2max will lower by about 1% at each 1,000 ft interval. Some people choose to take advantage of this, though, and run at a high altitude to train harder.
–Weight: Your VO2max measures the amount of oxygen that is carried to your body. The less fat you have, the more oxygen can make it into your actual muscles.
–Training: Your physical fitness level has a large role in your VO2max. Cardio and weight lifting can increase this, but we’ll cover the single best way to increase it dramatically.
Enter Interval Training
Intervals are a relatively new idea in running, at least in the capacity that we are talking about. The Tabata protocol helped Japanese speed skaters increase their endurance by almost 30% in only a few workouts. The idea is to run at an all out pace for 30 seconds and then rest for 30 seconds. The important part is that you run for as fast as you possibly can for those 30 seconds. In just four minutes, not counting the warm up, you can skyrocket your VO2max. A 10% increase in three weeks is entirely possible. This does not seem like much when you look at a single number, but a 10% increase can make a dramatic improvement on your endurance.
The results plateau after a month or so, but your overall endurance can still increase. That means that you can get a huge bump in VO2max in only a month, with lifelong endurance benefits coming from sticking to the routine. This does not mean that you will not ever increase your VO2max with intervals, but the studies did not find an increase in the time they were doing research.
What Does This Mean For You?
While an important part of VO2max is part of your genetics, there are some incorporating interval training into your routine will certain help improve your VO2max and help you hit that personal best come race day.
This article was written for RunnersGoal.com by James S., a guest author