Your VO2 Max and How to Improve It


 When you engage in aerobic exercise such as running, your body primarily uses type 1 muscle fibers. These muscles rely on aerobic metabolism (oxygen as fuel). The better your body can take in, deliver and metabolize the oxygen, the better your endurance will be.

The best indicator for aerobic fitness is VO2 Max.

What is VO2 Max:

VO2 Max is the maximum volume of oxygen your muscles (type 1/ aerobic) can consume in a minute.

How to Calculate VO2 Max:

VO2 = (milliliters of air inhaled per minute)(percentage of oxygen in the air inhaled) / (milliliters of air exhaled per minute)(percentage of oxygen in the air exhaled)

VO2 max = 15.3 x (MHR/RHR)

MHR = Maximum heart rate (beats/minute) calculated using age = 208 – (0.7 x age)

RHR = Resting heart rate (beats/minute) = number of heart beats in 20 seconds x 3 (calculate just after waking up, before getting out of bed)

Math not your thing? Click here.

What Your VO2 Max Means for Your Aerobic Fitness:


How to Improve Your VO2 Max:

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is considered the best method for improving your VO2 Max.

During HIIT you alternate between high exertion and low exertion. During the high intensity portion you get very close to your VO2 max and sustain that level of exertion. Distance running is considered moderate intensity.

Benefits of HIIT:

  • Increased aerobic fitness, measured through VO2 max.
  • Increased anaerobic fitness
  • Decreased fasting insulin and increased insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced abdominal and subcutaneous fat

For best results, do HIIT workouts 2-3 times per week. This can be a great way to improve your running performance without going on as many patience-testing long runs.

Sample HIIT Workout:

Sample HIIT Workout - Ace Fitness

 How to Determine Which Speeds to Use:

The speeds used will be dependent on your current fitness level.

  • Do the high intensity portion at the fastest you can sustain for 1 minute (Think long sprints).
  • Do the low intensity portions at whatever you need to recover in 2 minutes to repeat the high intensity portion (Probably slightly slower than your typical jogging pace).

Learn More:

How VO2 Max Works

How to Improve VO2 Max

Fit Facts: High-Intensity Interval Training

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): Best Cardio to Burn Fat


A Guide to Running for People that Hate Running

Running used to be something I despised. It was that one aspect of physical activity that I did not enjoy. I was the person who cut corners while running laps. I didn’t quite touch the floor while running suicides. Whenever I went to the gym I would avoid the dreadmill at all costs.

When I decided to get my shit together, I knew running would be key to getting fit (groans in annoyance). I started off slowly. At first the longest I could go without stopping was half a mile. It took me 38 minutes to run/walk a 5k. Now I run around 25 miles a week and have ran as many as 8 miles at once. The shocker? I actually enjoy it now (gasps).

So you want to give it a try? Here are a few tips…


Start and finish with a stretch and a walk.

Stretch for about 5 minutes and get a short walk in to begin and end each workout. It will minimize soreness and your risk of injury. In addition, it mentally gets you in the zone and is a great way to procrastinate actually running.

Running Stretches

Start off slowly…but don’t get too comfortable.

Try a beginner’s running program such as Couch to 5k. Start from the beginning even if the first few workouts are easy for you. If you want to challenge yourself try increasing your speed rather than breaking from the program. It will help later on when the workouts get more difficult. If you can’t make it through one of the workouts, repeat that week until you can. You should be uncomfortable but you shouldn’t be in pain. If you use a dreadmill, doing the jogging parts at 5mph and walking at 2.7mph should be a good starting point.


Invest in a good pair of running shoes.

You want shoes with good support. This is especially important for injury prevention as your mileage increases. Most sporting good stores will have someone that can help you get the right fit. Having pretty running shoes are also a great incentive to actually run.


Stay hydrated. 

Drink plenty of water before, during and after your run. This also makes a great excuse for taking a short walking break.


Listen to music that makes you want to move! 

Can you think of a song that gets you motivated or just makes you want to dance? That is the type of music that is great for exercise. When you want to stop, focus in on the music.

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Get a friend to join you.

Ask a friend to run with you. This will help with accountability, give you a push of motivation and someone to talk to (if you can still breathe). Ideally you would want someone at a similar fitness level as you so you can stick together during the run.


Sign up for a race.

Sign up for a shorter race like a 5k. There are a ton of fun races like The Color Run. If you don’t mind getting down and dirty,  try a short-distance mud run. Races also make great Facebook and Instagram material. You can find races in your area on websites like and


Don’t worry about being judged.

I used to be really self-conscious when I first started running. I was worried about people judging me for my lack of fitness. While there may be a few people that judge, don’t worry about them. Most people will not judge you.  We all start somewhere. And for the few that do, who cares what they think? Are you going to let them stop you from achieving your goals? Just focus on your workout. This is about you and your fitness.


Have fun!