Estimated VO2 Max Calculator
Use this calculator to estimate your VO2 max and calorie burn during exercise without the need for a high intensity assessment.
Calculator created by Jeff Burmann, NSCA-CPT. Questions? Email Jeff
About the Calculator
This calculator is unique compared to our other VO2 max calculators in that it helps you identify your VO2 max without exercise. The best method of measuring this number is through a maximally graded exercise test typically done in a sports laboratory. That method gives the most accurate number but may be too expensive or unavailable for most people. For general fitness enthusiasts we recommend trying another VO2 max test such as the 1 Mile Rockport Walk Test or the 1.5 Mile Run. If you cannot perform the physical tests or are just curious, this may give fairly accurate results (± 10-15%).
Be sure you accurately check your height and weight and if you’re well trained, accurately identify your ratings of perceived exertion (RPE. Borg 6-20 scale).
- National Strength and Conditioning Association’s “NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training Vol. 2.” Human Kinetics. 2012
- Kordich, J.A. 2002. Evaluating Your Client: Fitness Assessment and Protocol Norms. Lincoln, NE: NSCA Certification Commission.
- Kraemer W.J., N.A. Ratamess, A.C. Fry, and D.N. French. 2006. Strength training: Development and evaluation of methodology. In: Physiological Assessment of Human Fitness, P.J. Maud and C. Foster, eds. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
What is VO2 Max?
VO2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in and utilize. Not all the air taken in is actually used by the body. The more cardiovascularly conditioned you are, the higher your VO2 max will be, thus the more oxygen you’ll be able to utilize with each breath. Finding VO2 max is among the best measures of cardiorespiratory fitness. Each liter of oxygen utilized burns about 5 kcals so the higher the VO2 max, the more energy you will require to exercise meaning you can burn more calories and get better more intense workouts. Striving for a higher VO2 max is one of the best ways to improve all cardiovascular functions in the body which will improve your overall fitness level.
Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) is the difference between your maximal heart rate, and the heart rate you are currently working at. It is the most common way to measure intensity during aerobic exercise. Measuring heart rate is far more practical than measuring gas exchange during exercise, but it is very easy to estimate percentage of VO2 max based on percentage of HRR; for example, 50% VO2 max is equal to about 50% HRR, 75% VO2 max = 75% HRR, etc.
VO2 Max and Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)
VO2 Max vs VO2 Reserve (VO2R)
For greater accuracy determining the relationship between percentage of VO2 max and percentage of HRR, use the following equation to find VO2 reserve (VO2R).
VO2R = [(Intensity %) x (VO2 max – VO2 rest)] + VO2 rest.
VO2 Max and METs
At rest, oxygen utilization is about 3.5mL ⋅ kg-1 ⋅ min-1 and is known as a “Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks” or METs. While resting, you are at 1 MET, so at 5 METs, the body is working 5x harder than at rest. 1 Met is also known as VO2rest. Normal healthy individuals typically have a VO2 max of 25-80 or 7.1 to 22.9 METs.
For another perspective, here is a list of estimated METs for various activities.
- 1 MET = lying in bed or sitting, watching T.V., doing nothing.
- 3 METs = resistance training with light to moderate effort, or walking 2.5 mph
- 5 METs = walking 4 mph on level surface, or low impact aerobic dancing
- 6 METs = vigorous resistance training
- 8 METs = playing singles tennis, or circuit training including cardio stations with limited rest
- 10 METs = running 6mph, or swimming vigorously
- 16 METs = running 10 mph, or cycling outdoors at >20 mph