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Are you fit? Test yourself!

By Tom 0
18 August 2015

Fitness can fall under many headings including flexibility, strength, definition and aerobic fitness. This article will focus primarily on aerobic fitness, VO2 max. We will discuss what VO2 max is and why it is important, how you can improve your VO2 max and the impact that this has on your health overall.

What is VO2 Max?

VO2 Max, also known as aerobic fitness is the way in which we measure our aerobic fitness levels. That is, using Oxygen (O2). More specifically, it is the measure of which we can use for the volume of oxygen we can take in an utilise each minute hence V = volume, O2 = Oxygen and measured as ml/kg/min.

VO2 max (also maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, peak oxygen uptake or maximal aerobic capacity) is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption as measured during incremental exercise, most typically on a motorized treadmill. Maximal oxygen consumption reflects the aerobic physical fitness of the individual, and is an important determinant of their endurance capacity during prolonged, sub-maximal exercise. The name is derived from V – volume, O2 – oxygen, max – maximum. – Wikipedia

How can VO2 Max be assessed?

There are many, many ways in which we can assess our VO2 max, some are at rest but most are physical. There are several main assessments used which are quick, simple and give an estimated approximate result within age and gender defined parameters.

More importantly, an accurate VO2 max test can be conducted in a functional sports research facility. This includes completing a multi-stage fitness test while being assessed using a metabolic cart (picture being on a treadmill, bike or rower, while hooked up with a gas-mask type device and ECG (electro-cardiogram) while running and getting faster and faster.) This is the most accurate way of assessing VO2 max as it is utilising the bodies’ aerobic capacity and measuring the results.

However, there are many other methods that allow us to assess our VO2 max, but will only provide an estimated result. These results are usually within 12% of the full aerobic assessments and are designed as a guideline only. Listed below are the most common assessments used.

  1. Cooper Test
  2. Bleep / Beep Test
  3. 4km Run Test

Cooper Test

This is one of the most commonly used fitness tests to measure an estimated Vo2 max. It is widely used on endurance athletes due to it being quite intensive and long. The setup for this assessment is as follows – either using a treadmill, 400m track or marked area, the athlete is to warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. You will need a stopwatch and a way of communicating to the athlete. The athlete is to run for 12 minutes and have their distance recorded; after each 400m distance you must tell the athlete how long they have left. Once their result is recorded you can use this formula to calculate their estimated aerobic fitness: (distance covered in metres – 504.9) ÷ 44.73.

Cooper Test Normative Data

Male Athletes
Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
13-14 >2700m 2400-2700m 2200-2399m 2100-2199m <2100m
15-16 >2800m 2500-2800m 2300-2499m 2200-2299m <2200m
17-19 >3000m 2700-3000m 2500-2699m 2300-2499m <2300m
20-29 >2800m 2400-2800m 2200-2399m 1600-2199m <1600m
30-39 >2700m 2300-2700m 1900-2299m 1500-1999m <1500m
40-49 >2500m 2100-2500m 1700-2099m 1400-1699m <1400m
>50 >2400m 2000-2400m 1600-1999m 1300-1599m <1300m
Female Athletes
Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
13-14 >2000m 1900-2000m 1600-1899m 1500-1599m <1500m
15-16 >2100m 2000-2100m 1700-1999m 1600-1699m <1600m
17-20 >2300m 2100-2300m 1800-2099m 1700-1799m <1700m
20-29 >2700m 2200-2700m 1800-2199m 1500-1799m <1500m
30-39 >2500m 2000-2500m 1700-1999m 1400-1699m <1400m
40-49 >2300m 1900-2300m 1500-1899m 1200-1499m <1200m
>50 >2200m 1700-2200m 1400-1699m 1100-1399m <1100m

 Beep / Shuttle Test

This test involves continuous running between two lines 20m apart in time to recorded beeps. For this reason the test is also often called the ‘beep’ or ‘bleep’ test. The participants stand behind one of the lines facing the second line, and begin running when instructed by the recording. The speed at the start is quite slow. The subject continues running between the two lines, turning when signalled by the recorded beeps. After about one minute, a sound indicates an increase in speed, and the beeps will be closer together. This continues each minute (level). If the line is reached before the beep sounds, the subject must wait until the beep sounds before continuing. If the line is not reached before the beep sounds, the subject is given a warning and must continue to run to the line, then turn and try to catch up with the pace within two more ‘beeps’. The test is stopped if the subject fails to reach the line (within 2 meters) for two consecutive ends after a warning. Many military forces and police academy’s use this approach to quickly asses a subjects’ fitness levels. For example, the police look for a minimum level of 5.4 while the Royal Marines look for 13.0 as a minimum.

Bleep Test Normative Data

Males

  very poor poor fair average good very good excellent
12 – 13 yrs < 3/3 3/4 – 5/1 5/2 – 6/4 6/5 – 7/5 7/6 – 8/8 8/9 – 10/9 > 10/9
14 – 15 yrs < 4/7 4/7 – 6/1 6/2 – 7/4 7/5 – 8/9 8/10 – 9/8 9/9 – 12/2 > 12/2
16 – 17 yrs < 5/1 5/1 – 6/8 6/9 – 8/2 8/3 – 9/9 9/10 – 11/3 11/4 – 13/7 > 13/7
18 – 25 yrs < 5/2 5/2 – 7/1 7/2 – 8/5 8/6 – 10/1 10/2 – 11/5 11/6 – 13/10 > 13/10
26 – 35 yrs < 5/2 5/2 – 6/5 6/6 – 7/9 7/10 – 8/9 8/10 – 10/6 10/7 – 12/9 >12/9
36 – 45 yrs < 3/8 3/8 – 5/3 5/4 – 6/4 6/5 – 7/7 7/8 – 8/9 8/10 – 11/3 > 11/3
46 – 55 yrs < 3/6 3/6 – 4/6 4/7 – 5/5 5/6 – 6/6 6/7 – 7/7 7/8 – 9/5 > 9/5
56 – 65 yrs < 2/7 2/7 – 3/6 3/7 – 4/8 4/9 – 5/6 5/7 – 6/8 6/9 – 8/4 > 8/4
> 65 yrs < 2/2 2/2 – 2/5 2/6 – 3/7 3/8 – 4/8 4/9 – 6/1 6/2 – 7/2 > 7/2

Females

  very poor poor fair average good very good excellent
12 – 13 yrs < 2/6 2/6- 3/5 3/6- 5/1 5/2 – 6/1 6/2 – 7/4 7/5 – 9/3 > 9/3
14 – 15 yrs < 3/3 3/4 – 5/2 5/3 – 6/4 6/5 – 7/5 7/6 – 8/7 8/8 – 10/7 > 10/7
16 – 17 yrs < 4/2 4/2 – 5/6 5/7 – 7/1 7/2 – 8/4 8/5 – 9/7 9/8 – 11/10 > 11/11
18 – 25 yrs < 4/5 4/5 – 5/7 5/8 – 7/2 7/3 – 8/6 8/7 – 10/1 10/2 – 12/7 > 12/7
26 – 35 yrs < 3/8 3/8 – 5/2 5/3 – 6/5 6/6 – 7/7 7/8 – 9/4 9/5 – 11/5 > 11/5
36 – 45 yrs < 2/7 2/7- 3/7 3/8- 5/3 5/4 – 6/2 6/3 – 7/4 7/5 – 9/5 > 9/5
46 – 55 yrs < 2/5 2/5 – 3/5 3/6 – 4/4 4/5 – 5/3 5/4 – 6/2 6/3 – 8/1 > 8/1
56 – 65 yrs < 2/2 2/2 – 2/6 2/7 – 3/5 3/6 – 4/4 4/5 – 5/6 5/7 – 7/2 > 7/2
> 65 yrs < 1/5 1/5 – 2/1 2/2 – 2/6 2/7 – 3/4 3/5 – 4/3 4/4 – 5/7 > 5/7

 2.4km Run Test

The final assessment I will mention in order to estimate your VO2 max scores is the 2.4km (1 and a half miles) run test. This is widely used within the military to grade certain criteria and for pre-joining fitness assessments.

Find a route around your local area that is relatively flat and map out a 2.4km route around as a general scout. The next time you do this route, you now know where you can push yourself hard and increase the pace and also when you need to steady yourself, for example, steep inclines.

After a 5 to 10 minute warm up, set your stopwatch going and complete the route as fast as you can. Once complete, stop your stopwatch and record the result. You can use the same route over and over again to measure your progress.

2.4km Run Test Normative Data

Burger et al. (1990) determined the VO2 max from the test results could be calculated as follows: VO2 max = 85.95 – (3.079 x Run Time [minutes]) with a standard error of ±2.24-2.91 ml/kg/min.

To see how you scored with your VO2 Max, use the table below.

Female (values in ml/kg/min)

Age Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior
20 – 29 <36 36 – 39 40 – 43 44 – 49 >49
30 – 39 <34 34 – 36 37 – 40 41 – 45 >45
40 – 49 <32 32 – 34 35 – 38 39 – 44 >44
50 – 59 <25 25 – 28 29 – 30 31 – 34 >34
60 – 69 <26 26 – 28 29 – 31 32 – 35 >35
70 – 79 <24 24 – 26 27 – 29 30 – 35 >35

Male (values in ml/kg/min)

Age Poor Fair Good Excellent Superior
20 – 29 <42 42 – 45 46 – 50 51 – 55 >55
30 – 39 <41 41 – 43 44 – 47 48 – 53 >53
40 – 49 <38 38 – 41 42 – 45 46 – 52 >52
50 – 59 <35 35 – 37 38 – 42 43 – 49 >49
60 – 69 <31 31 – 34 35 – 38 39 – 45 >45
For more information on fitness testing and how we can help you, take a look at our Personal Training packages. If you have a fitness goal, fitness tests like the ones mentioned above, and more, are used as standard for verified and guaranteed results Go!
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author: Tom

Tom has been in the fitness industry for over 8 years. He is qualified in functional movement, Kettlebells, Boxercise, Nutrition and many other qualifications. Tom is also the founder and director of ActivityX. For more information on Tom, see his trainer profile.

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