What is VO2 Training?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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VO2 Max testing is athletic endurance testing that focuses on how much oxygen an athlete can use during intense physical activity. VO2 training is a targeted workout that is meant to increase the amount of oxygen an athlete can use during physical exercise; the test and the VO2 training are both considered barometers for how well the athlete will perform during live competition. While much research contends that VO2 threshold is connected to genetics, VO2 training can help increase performance and develop a better VO2 Max. The VO2 Max measures how efficiently a person's body can use oxygen during exercise, and is thought to measure the persons fitness level.

Young athletes and new athletes are most likely to start a VO2 training regiment. VO2 Max is generally highest in young athletes and it decreases as the athlete ages. A young athlete's VO2 Max level has been known to increase significantly and quickly with proper VO2 training, thereby helping increase performance in general athletic competition. VO2 training can be very intense, since most of the exercises used to develop and test VO2 Max increase the heart rate and hold it there for long periods of time.


The point of VO2 training is to increase the amount of usable oxygen that can reach the muscles performing an exercise. To do this, the athlete must participate in activities that increase the heart rate, such as running or cycling. The general idea is to raise the heart rate to just above a normal strenuous pace. A training session may involve pushing above the normal pace, then slowing down for a short period, then repeating. This allows the body to get used to the strain but also allows the body to recover slightly. This, in turn, allows the athlete to perform longer.

Such training is important to athletes participating in highly aerobic sports. Cycling and running are common sports that necessitate VO2 Max testing and training, and any sport that involves a significant amount of running or other movement. Soccer players, for example, would benefit from VO2 Max training and testing. A consistent VO2 workout should be done over the course of several weeks, several times a week. The training session should stop one week before any live competition to allow the body to recover from the strenuous workout. The body may not otherwise perform at its peak because of built up exhaustion. Even if live competition is not right around the corner, it is wise to take a break from training after about four weeks of consistent workouts. A two week rest allows the body to recover and prepare for another round of training.



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