VO₂ (Volume of Oxygen) Max is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption that can be attained during the most intense exercise possible. It generally is considered the best indicator of cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance.  The more oxygen a person can use during high level exercise, the more energy a person can produce, and therefore, the more cardiovascularly fit a person is.



In many different ways!! Being aware of your current VO2 max can provide a useful way of optimizing the design, intensity and effectiveness of your training sessions and help you set realistic goals. In addition, the test can be used to determine your true heart rate zones (no heart rate zone estimations based on simplistic formulas here!). Knowing your true heart rate zones helps you better understand what specific target heart rates, intensity and duration should be used in your training to help you achieve your fitness goals more effectively, with less fatigue and fewer injuries. And don’t forget about the importance of knowing your anaerobic threshold! Knowing your anaerobic threshold (the point during exericise when your body must switch from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism) can help you train smarter and for longer periods of time.  Periodic retesting provides motivating feedback as your fitness program progresses and allows you to track your progress (your VO2 max and your anaerobic threshold will increase as you become more cardiovacularly fit).

The test also determines the number of calories burned during every level of exercise, providing valuable information when designing a weight loss program. And if CO2 is measured during the test, a Respiratory Exchange Ratio (RER) can determine the proportion of energy coming from carbohydrates and fats at various levels of exercise intensity. Since physical conditioning and exercise intensity affect these proportions, this information can be very helpful when designing a workout intended to burn fat.


When taking a VO2 Max test, the participant is required to breathe into an oxygen consumption analyzer face mask while performing a graded exercise protocol on a treadmill that gradually increases in speed and intensity to an all-out effort.  The mask worn by the participant during the test allows for the measurement of the volume of exhaled gas and the concentration of oxygen in that exhaled gas. This determines how much oxygen is used during each minute of the exercise test.

A person’s oxygen consumption rises in a linear relationship with exercise intensity up to a certain point at which oxygen consumption plateaus even as intensity increases.  Once the participant is unable to keep up with the oxygen demands of his or her muscles and reaches complete fatigue, the participant’s oxygen has reached a maximum and the VO2 Max is determined.

FRC’s VO2 Max tests are performed on a Woodway treadmill.  At the start of the test you will be required to put on the face mask and heart rate monitor.  All equipment is thoroughly cleaned before and after each use. After an initial consultation with the FRC manager performing the test, he or she will start you off at a low intensity on the treadmill, gradually increasing the intensity until you reach your oxygen consumption plateau and can no longer keep up with the increase in intensity.  When the test is complete the FRC manager performing the test will provide you with the results and help explain what they mean and how you can use them to find the formula that’s right for you!

Please plan at least 1 hour for the completion of the test which also permits time for you to consult with the FRC manager before and after the test to explain the test requirements and your results.  For the test, please dress in comfortable athletic clothing and refrain from exercise or training for 24 hours prior to the test.  Additional details regarding how to prepare for the test will be provided by the FRC staff prior to your appointment.

If you are ready to take your training to the MAX and are interested in a VO2 Max assessment, please click on the button below and fill out the contact information on our “Contact Us” page or simply call or email us so that we can get you scheduled today!