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Test your maximal oxygen uptake (cardio!)

July 4, 2012 - By Karine Larose, M.Sc.

Temps de lecture 2 minutes

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











Test your maximal oxygen uptake (cardio!) is a post from Nautilus Plus. The Nautilus Plus blog aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
Copyright © Nautilus Plus 2012

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