VO2 max, the maximum amount of oxygen you can get to your muscles, is crucial to those who want to run long distances.
But is it possible to increase your VO2 max? If so, how can you achieve better results?
VO2 max research is relatively light in comparison to other health and fitness topics – there just hasn’t been a lot of research into the subject of improving and increasing your VO2 max.
One area that does come through from the research that exists is this; your ability to influence your VO2 max differs depending on how fit you are in the first place.
Variety also is a key factor. Studies have shown that if you repeat the same sessions again and again, you are likely to reach a growth plateau.
Follow these ideas to increase your VO2 max, depending on your current fitness level, taken from research at the University of Evry-Val-d’Essone in France:
Do intervals with 100% effort for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of easy jogging until you can no longer sustain the pace.
Information! According to the research, when moderately fit people performed this session twice a week for ten weeks, they raised their VO2 max by an average of 10%.
Do three-minutes running at a speed similar to your 5k race pace (around 10-11 minutes per mile for men, 12-13 minutes per mile for women), with a two-minute jogging recovery between intervals.
Information! According to the research, when ‘super fit’ people did five three-minute intervals once a week, for four weeks, their pace at VO2 max (known as vVO2 max or ‘velocity at VO2 max’) increased by an average of 3%.
Alternatives to Running?
Another route to increase your VO2 max would be to use a device that treats your lungs just like any other part of the body you’re trying to build.
One device that exists is the Powerbreathe K5. Easy and simple to use, with a raft of built-in exercises, the Powerbreathe K5 looks a little like an inhaler with an LCD screen. The devices are pretty expensive, and cheaper alternatives are available, but equipment like this that works on the same principles as resistance training can be effective in increasing VO2 max.