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What’s VO2Max and what does it tell you about your fitness?

Standards is a series explaining various tech protocols, looking at their practical implementation, and where we could find them in devices around us.

Fitness bands and watches have thrown around numbers at our faces and motivate us to be more healthy.

All these smart wearables have two primary measures: the number of steps taken and the number of active calories burnt in a day.

Apple pioneered the system to display three rings for calories, steps, and standing. It edges you to complete them out for the day to feel we’ve been active enough. Other smart band makers have also followed rings or a similar system for daily fitness goals.

However, another fitness stat is gaining prominence in these wearable devices: VO2Max. It’s a metric that allows devices to calculate the intensity of your workout and cardiovascular strength.

What is VO2Max?

VO2Max stands for the maximum volume of O2 (oxygen) you can utilize during a workout. The measure’s unit is ml/kg/min, indicating that it takes into account the amount of oxygen in ml you can utilize per kg of body weight every minute. The score helps you improve your performance in activities that require better cardio fitness.

What’s it used for?

VO2Max is a measure of your cardiovascular fitness or endurance in simple words. It can give you a sense of how well you utilize oxygen while doing physically strenuous activity. The higher your VO2Max score, the more likely you can perform while playing sports, running, or cycling.

Unlike step counts and calories, VO2Max is not a universal score. It depends on your age, the work you’re putting in, and your activity over time.

What’s VO2Max and what does it tell you about your fitness?
Credit: Garmin/Cooper Institute