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Test your maximal oxygen uptake (cardio!)

An evaluation of your maximal oxygen uptake will give you a good idea as to the efficiency of your aerobic system. The best method for accurately evaluating the quantity of oxygen that your body can take up, or VO2max expressed in mlO2/kg/min, is to analyse the quantity of oxygen inhaled and the quantity of carbon dioxide exhaled during an effort at maximal intensity. Obviously this test can only be done using sophisticated equipment, available only in some fitness centres like Nautilus Plus, and must be performed by specialists.

Estimated maximal oxygen uptake test

Since you might not have access to the test equipment, you can estimate your VO2max with a test performed at sub-maximal effort. I suggest you use the UKK Institute (in Finland) walk test. This involves walking two kilometres as fast as you can. The surface on which you walk must be flat. You may use a treadmill or go 5 times around a 400 metre athletics track.

Immediately after having walked briskly for 2 km, you:

  1. Record in minutes the time it took you to cover the distance (Time).
  2. Take your pulse for one minute (HR) (see the section Measuring Heart Rate later in this chapter).
  3. Apply the following formula for estimating VO2max:

For men: 184 – (4.65 x ____Time) – (0.22 x ____ HR) – 0.26 x ____Age*) – 1.05 x ____  BMI**) = ____

For women: 116.2 – (2.98 x ____Time) – (0.11 x ____HR) – 0.14 x ____Age*) – 0.39 x ____BMI**) = ____

Write your personal results in the spaces indicated

  • Age* = your age in years
  • BMI** = your body mass index (kg/m2) (See the section Body Mass Index to know how to calculate your BMI)

Interpretation of the results of the estimated oxygen consumption test

The result of this equation enables you to assess your maximal oxygen uptake quite accurately. To evaluate your training progression, this test can be redone every three months. For those who already enjoy a good level of fitness, I recommend a test at maximal effort.

Classification chart of the results relating to aerobic capacity (in ml d’O2/kg of weight/min)

Age (years)20-2930-3940-4950-59Age (years)20-2930-3940-4950-59
















38 to 50

34 to 42

30 to 40

26 to 38


29 to 40

28 to 38

26 to 37

22 to 34


50 to 55

43 to 50

41 to 46

39 to 42


41 to 46

39 to 45

38 to 43

35 to 40











Karine Larose, M.Sc.

Karine Larose is a kinesiologist, Director of Marketing and Communications and Spokesperson for Nautilus Plus who specializes in fitness motivation. She authored The Guide to Healthier Living, penned the book 10-4 The Healthy Way to Lose 10 Pounds in 4 Weeks and released her third work called Zero Diet: Delicious and Healthy Recipes for Success, all by Les Éditions du TRÉCARRÉ. Karine has launched a series of exercise DVDs entitled 30 minutes par jour pour Vivre Plus and is featured on the ULTIME FIT online platform. Many TV shows and radio stations regularly request Karine’s point of view on physical exercise issues and points of interest.

Test your maximal oxygen uptake (cardio!) is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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