How To Improve Your VO2 Max | VO2 Max Explained


– [Dan] A high VO2 max
has long been linked with elite athletic performance. So to give you a few cycling examples, Greg LeMond recorded one of 92 and a half. Chris Froome’s is
apparently just under 85. Whilst his young Colombian teammate, Egan Bernal, the super climbing talent, apparently has one just over 90. – [Sai] Wow. – Now to put that in context, the average male has a
VO2 max between 40 and 45; the average female between 30 and 35. Now, can you improve it? Yes you can. Should you improve it? Yeah, you should probably try,
so we’re gonna tell you how. (upbeat music) – Now before we tell you, we should probably explain
exactly what it is. So VO2 Max is a measure of how much oxygen your body is able to consume
doing maximal effort. And it’s measured in
millilitres per kilogramme of body weight per minute. – Your VO2 Max though, is not necessarily linked
to your lung capacity and I, unfortunately, am
a prime example of this. So my lung capacity, Si, is not far off eight litres. – [Si] Wow! – [Dan] I mean they are huge. – Yeah, I’d never noticed but
you really do have a big pair. – I do, yeah. Unfortunately, though, the one
time my VO2 Max was recorded it was only 69 which is not bad, it’s just very average for a pro. – (chuckles) Well the
reason there is probably that discrepancy is that
VO2 Max doesn’t measure the oxygen that comes in to your lungs, it actually measures how
much oxygen your body is then able to utilise, and so that’s probably why Dan wasn’t quite as efficient as Greg LeMond. – No, it was fortunate I
did that test actually, otherwise I would never have known. – Good point, you’d just spend
your life wondering, yeah. – Anyway, if you would like
to measure it yourself, you’re going to need something
called a gas analyzer. These are probably not something you’re gonna have around your house. Mostly they are found
in sports laboratories, but increasingly, there
are mobile gas analyzers such as the VO2 Master which
we couldn’t help but spot, could we, a couple of years
ago on the roads of Mallorca. – [Si] No, it took an eagle eye there didn’t it to see that. Now, the reason why your
VO2 Max is so important is that oxygen is vital
in helping your body turn fuel into energy so therefore, the more oxygen that
you can actually get in, the more efficiently you
can turn fuel into energy. So therefore the longer and
harder you can exercise for. And that’s probably the
reason why some people try and artificially boost their VO2 Max, by using ill-gotten methods. – I’ve got some good news, Si. – Yeah? – You don’t need to dope
to increase your VO2 Max. – Well that’s a relief. – I’ve also got some bad news. – What’s that? – To increase it naturally, it’s really gonna hurt quite a lot. – That’s not bad news
mate, no pain no gain. Coming up, we’ve got three sessions that will boost your VO2 Max. – Hold on. (upbeat music) – The first session is one that you may well have seen before
here on GCN. Micro Intervals. They are a great way of
increasing your VO2 Max. For all of these sessions,
it is important that you get in a good warm-up to begin with, because they are quite intense. So at least 20 to 30
minutes of steady riding. After which, on this one, you’re going to be doing 40 20’s. – Which means 40 seconds hard, followed by 20 seconds easy. Now when we say hard, we mean
about 120 percent of your FTP so for non-power meter users, that is about the effort you
can sustain for five minutes. And then, the 20 seconds as you can see, is just keeping your legs ticking over. And then, the reason for
that 20 seconds easy, is cause we aren’t doing five minutes, we’re doing it for 10 minutes. So you repeat 40 20s for ten minutes. And then, we’re gonna be
aiming for two to three of these blocks in each session with 10 minutes of
gentle riding in between. Perfect for the indoor trainer, or perfect for long, steady climbs. (upbeat music) – Our second session is
a little bit simpler, but no less painful. We’re doing four minutes, almost at max. So power metre users, that means again about
120 percent of your FTP. Either way, when you get to the end of your first four minutes,
you should feel like you have a little bit left in the
tank, but not very much. – [Dan] Within a single
session, you want to aim for around 20 minutes of
total work at this intensity. So four intervals is okay,
five is absolutely bang-on, and hats off to you if you manage six, because that is exceptional
for this session. Make sure you get in a full recovery around four minutes between each one, or until you’re ready
to start the next one, and then a cool down to finish. (upbeat music) – Our last session is probably
just about the least painful. The intervals are the
longest, at 10 minutes a pop, however it’s only the first
two minutes of each one that are really intense, are you that 120 percent of FTP again. Straight after that though,
you settle into eight minutes, bang-on, your functional threshold power. – [Dan] Again, without a power metre, this is the sort of intensity
you can hold for five minutes. But then, it’s followed by eight minutes at the sort of effort that
you could hold for one hour. Although, be warned, it won’t
feel like that kind of effort because you’ve just done
two minutes flipping hard. Now have 10 minutes of very
easy riding in between, and then repeat the session again. Just two of these intervals
is pretty good going, but some of you may be
able to manage three. How much you are able
to increase your VO2 Max through these sessions will depend on your current fitness levels, how much training you
have done in the past, but also genetics. It’s unlikely you’re going
to reach the kind of levels of Greg LeMond, unless you’re
some kind of genetic mutant, but it is worth working on nonetheless, because there are studies
out there that have shown some people have trained
and increased their VO2 Max by 100 percent, they’ve doubled it! – Yeah, others meanwhile,
can’t improve it at all. But nevertheless, it is
definitely worth trying. And we should also
stress as well actually, your VO2 Max is not the be-all and end-all of being a super fast
cyclist, not by a long shot. There are many other
things that are important, and that you should train as well, so these VO2 Max sessions
should be part of a balanced and varied training plan. – And don’t forget, within that well-rounded training
programme to incorporate rest. Rest is really important if
you want to make improvements. – That’s right. With that,
you’re basically that and also your eight
litre lung capacity then, there’s no wonder the Cervélo TestTeam absolutely snapped you up is it? – Yeah I’ve got it right.
I still am in fact. Right, well that’s the end of this video. If you’ve enjoyed it, please give it a thumbs up just down below and if you would like to
learn with a new power meter, how to test your FTP you can
find that right below us. (bleep) – How much you’re able to
increase your (mumbles) oh my god. – Coffee’s going colder by the minute. – Ready? – Sorry are you (bleep)? – And within that training plan
you should also incorpor… – (laughing) Sorry. (bleep) – As part of a well-rounded
training (laughs)…

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. Hi GCN I really love your videos and everything I achieved in road cycling is because of ya'll. However, I do have a request. Can you put your own subtile?(not auto generated) because I love your accent but it's hard to cope up to what you're saying especially for those who's English is their 3rd language (me) Thank you 🙂
    Anyone agree?

  2. Do a free used bike, frame, frameset, or parts or GCN jerseys for us poor American's loop. But seriously that'd be sooooo cool !!!!!

  3. maybe hes less efficient at taking in air because he natruly has large lungs so he could still be taking in a lot of oxygen

  4. sometimes i hear that people who play wind instruments have higher vo2 max's because they have to use all their air and still not pass out

  5. Admit it: Weren't you just a little bit tempted to flash a certain banned rider's image at the mention of "ill-gotten methods"?

  6. Can you do these sessions without giving yourself a heart attack?? ps.. newish cyclist aged almost 60 (said quietly)

  7. I don't know about VO2max, but I definitely increased my rib cage size and upper chest measurement after three years of modest cycling 40 min per day 7 days a week. The way I know is that with a constant waist size (32") my button up shirts would no longer button in the middle to top region. I do know that I was able to swim 164 feet underwater for repeats (an olympic pool). Good video guys!

  8. I'am a Viet Nam Vet . with some bad lungs from Agent Orange. Your training videos have helped me keep up a good pace in my training rides. Keep up the great work.

  9. Any advice

    Every time I push myself to limits I pull a muscle . Feels like i can never get beyond a middle fitness

  10. 6:25 Did you even think for a moment before writing this in your script?
    VO2 of over 90 mL/kg/min is very high, while average for untrained male is 35-40. No matter how you look at it to double your VO2 you would need to be far below a sportsman level or you just have become a new rising star.

  11. Does your breathing have nothing to do with it? I feel like if you’re training your lungs that’d be the main thing to think about

  12. I can't get over these outfits. It's really hard to want to get into this sport when the entry fee seems to be dressing like a character from A Clockwork Orange.

  13. Guys please start mentioning the locations, you always have me analyzing every pixel of the screen trying to figure out where you are. Is that Tenerife?

  14. Without training, (when I started in September) VO2 max = 51… Really low. But hopefully it increased next year. Let's see!

  15. Which Place is this where you guys are cycling ………………. , practicing in such a nice background and fresh air will certainly increase VO2 max

  16. Greg LeMond 'the Reno Rocket' he earned that nickname after whipping the best USA Senior 1 racers as a 15 and 16 year old during races in Ca one was the Cat's Hill Criterium in Los Gatos

  17. This was really good. I used to be a swimmer, and in that sport intervals are different from cycling (in general). We'd do things like 100s on 1:10, which meant 100 yards hard, rest until 1:10 rolls around (i.e. 5-10 seconds), go again. Maybe do this 20 times. Then, do 200s on 2:30. Or, 50s on :35. Etc. An easy day would be 100s on 1:30. So when I was fastest on the bike I and a friend did what I called "swimming intervals" doing laps in an empty parking lot – X laps on Y time, with brief (10-30 seconds) rest between. I was never a good racer, but when doing lots of these workouts, I could race 60 minute criteriums with good racers and be in the mix at the end.

  18. Workout 1 Micro Intervals
    30 mins warm-up
    40 secs at 120% FTP or at 5 min max effort
    20 secs easy
    Repeat this for 10 mins

    Workout 2
    4 mins at 120% FTP
    4 mins easy
    4 or 5 cycles of this

    Workout 3
    2 mins at 120% FTP
    8 mins at FTP
    10 mins recovery
    2-3 cycles of this

  19. It will always be easier to do 1:00 – :30s (my personal favorite) or :40 – :20s at 120% FTP. 120% of FTP for 4 minutes is going to be harder to gulp down…especially by the fourth repeat.

  20. We need more of the extra takes at the end of the video to see your natural sides, goofups, n so on than the normal serious versions.. makes it fun to watch.. your videos are obviously the best .!! It's just a thought or maybe a suggestion.. cheers 👍✌:)

  21. Valuable lesson….
    You dont really need to dope to increase your vo2max….but its gonna be hard.
    ….the choice is up to you

  22. You said genetics are important to the possibility of enhancing VOmax. How about age? Is it possible at the age of 60?

  23. The first time I was tested for VO Max, I remember them telling me that I was pulling-in way more air/oxygen the I could process.
    So I said, "What you're telling me is that I'm just a Big Suck, right?" LOL 😉

  24. I would strongly suspect people with a vo2 max around 90 or higher to be blood doping or using some other performance enhancements.

  25. Good video. If you have a smart trainer there are also lots of good workouts on Zwift for helping VO2 max. The McCarthy Special is one I "like".

    MCarthy Special:
    10 mins gradual warm up @ 30% to 70% FTP
    3 x 3min steps starting @ 100% FTP, up to 125% FTP.
    9 mins recovery @ 63% FTP
    Repeat two more times.
    Total workout 1 hour.

    Make sure you have an empty stomach!

  26. It would be great to hear about someone's evolution from their lower Max to the new/higher VO2 Max, and how long it took to achieve.

  27. How about us poor boy cant afford this method sad life. Shout out plss from Philippines 🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭

  28. And a lower percent body fat is also important for VO2 max since fat does interfere with oxygen transport to the tissues. You wont see a fat person with a high VO2 max. So to reach closer to your full potential go on a clean diet of fruit, vegetables lean protein sources.

  29. how to improve your VO2 MAX
    1. you need a very very expensive bicycle
    2. very expensive skin-hugging jersey
    3. One very expensive Camera.

  30. Bengkel vo2 max dan recovery atlet bisa menaikan energi atlet 60% dan kecideraan sembuh ditempat. Sport massage Terapis. Agus Parjito wa.087836280086. Karanganyar, Solo. Jateng.

  31. Mine was 62 (proper test uni lab, Douglas bags). But for cyclists per kg needs to be adjusted. Total (per kg times total kg) is what matters on the flat, and on hills you need to allow for the weight of the bike, which is a constant. Two 70ml riders, the heavier has the advantage up a hill. Their "adjusted VO2 max – allowing for the bike – is higher.

  32. Those workouts seem odd. My 20 minute effort at 54 is only 300W, but my standard interval session is 360 for one minute 20s, with a 40s recovery, 15 efforts in half an hour. Strong smell of ammonia from muscle breakdown. But hold that for four minutes and I'm rubberised. I'm not doing a second one thar day, that's for certain.

  33. Tabata – 170% of your VO2 max, with a ten second recovery, until collapse – works, and takes five minutes. But very few people can do the 170% on a bike – your legs won't take it. You need to run uphill, probably on a treadmill.

  34. 2 years ago when I trained much less than now a days I did a proper vo2max test and back then I would have the same vo2max as Thibaut Pinot if I weighed as much as him which is crazy in itself. But I weigh 89kg and would not possible be able to get beneath 76kg in the most extreme cases. That's makes all the difference. Then there's another very big thing to note which is that my absolute power numbers above 5 minutes can't possibly match Pinot's. If we measure watts per kg I'm absolutely fckd.

  35. couple of things here; recent research has shown an individual's VO2 max to be (on average) ~80% determined by your genetic makeup and 20% trainable. If you want to improve it, good luck, it'll take literal years of training to see small improvement. Start early.

    Secondly, the measurement with units of mL per kg of body mass per minute is relative VO2 max. Absolute VO2 max is measured in L/min. There's a difference.

  36. I've been doing hard long intervals and at-the-limit threshold efforts on the Wattbike for years, and it can begin to grate on you. 410 kcals in 20 minutes, or repeated 2 minute 45kph efforts with one minute recovery, just wrecks me and I stink of ammonia. So yesterday I did an old workout that seems to build the legs without the same misery. Forty seconds very easy then twenty at 500 watts, or just over. 309 kcals in 20 minutes, but they're nearly all being done during the six minutes and forty seconds. So it's over 2,500 kcal per hour rate for the efforts! But the total cardiovascular load is manageable. So your legs are busted, but at least you're not cooked. A welcome respite.

  37. Why am i even watching this.? I dont even have a way to measure my FTP, and i dont have a powermeter… And i dont even have a road bike

  38. I use the BreatheEasy Lung Expander to keep my oxygen saturation max’d out. It truly transformed my breathing. It enabled me to get back into strenuous exercise with them increased my VO2 max even further. I got mine from Amazon for about $20 on sale.

  39. Tomorrow I am going to do my first unaerobic training with HR 160-170 for 4 min x 4 times with 4 minutes interval.

    In past done number of intervals with around 150-160 HR for 15 min.

    I just watched your video and become confidence that it type of workout can be done.

    Thanks and keep posting such good knowledgeable videos

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