Cardiorespiratory Capacity (VO2max)
If you’ve seen footage of elite athletes running on treadmills while wearing masks that make them look like they just stepped off a fighter jet, you’ve seen the lab test used to measure VO2max. The machinery simply calculates how much oxygen athletes can gulp and how efficiently they can use that oxygen under exertion.
If you are an endurance athlete, VO2max is a great number to gauge your current fitness level. And, you don’t need a lab to get it, just a track and a stopwatch.
After a good warmup, all you need to do is run as far as you can in 12 minutes. That distance will allow an online calculator to determine your estimated VO2max.
You can improve that number through standard endurance training plans, but McArdle says what you eat can also be a big factor. “Just by diet you can change it, just by decreasing any excess fat mass,” he says.
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