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Archive for June, 2016

Calculating the %of VO2Max to train at.

We already know what Vo2 Max is, why it is important to train it and at what intensities we should train to improve it. Now all we need to figure out is how to calculate those percentages to know  if we are training at the right intensities.

Let’s not forget that training intensities between 40-89%Vo2Max can improve the aerobic capacity in normal people. This means that people who are not in such good shape can train at 40 %  of Vo2Max, or even lower, and already see improvements, while people who are in better shape will have to train at higher intensities. Remember that two of the ways to improve VO2Max are by:

High Intensity Interval Training ( 80-100 % Vo2Max)- Only people who are well fit should train at those percentages.

Long Slow Distance Exercise ( 50-65% Vo2Max)- The run should usually last longer than 30 minutes.

Ok, so now the moment we have all been waiting for, how to calculate the intensity of Vo2Max you are working at. So, we do this through a method called the KARVONEN METHOD. It works because it is based on the linear relationship between hear rate and Vo2 with increasing work.

The steps you have to do are the following:

  1. Calculate your Heart Rate Max ( 220 minus your age)-This formula is not exact and the potential error with the standard deviation can be +-11 beats per minute.
  2. Calculate your  resting HR- It is usually better to do it in the morning
  3. Calculate your Heart Rate Reserve (HRR)- This equals Heart Max- Heart Rate Rest.
  4. Target Heart Rate (THR)- This is the heart rate we want to work out.

Remember that there is a linear relationship between heart rate and Vo2 with increasing work. That is why this formula works. So let us say that I want to work at 80% of Heart Rate Reserve the formula would be as follows..

THR= HRrest +0.80 ( Heart Rate Reserve)

I will use myself to put things more clearly. I am 34 years old, my heart rate at rest is 58 and I want to train at 80% of Vo2 Max.

  • Heart Rate Max:220 -34= 186
  • Resting Hear Rate: 58
  • Heart Rate Reserve: 186-58= 128
  •  THR= 58+0.80 (128)  and my Target Heart Rate would be 160.4, meaning that if I wanted to work at 80% percent of my VO2Max my heart rate would have to be at 160 beats per minute

I know it seems a little bit complicated but once you get the trick of it it will be quite easy and your training’s will be much more effective!!

Try it out and let me know if it works. Until next time




How to improve VO2Max (run faster).

In the last blog I talked about what Vo2Max is and why it’s important to train it. In this blog I will talk about how to improve it.

Remember that having a higher VO2 Max is an advantage: it means that your body can take in more oxygen and deliver it to your muscles, enabling you to run faster for a given effort.So any person who runs races should try to improve it. In addition, people with a low VO2Max increase the risk of death from all causes (1) !!There are various ways to improve VO2Max but I will give the two most known and those are:

1.High Intensity Interval training– Here you would do series of at least 50-60 seconds of high intensity.  The work- rest ratio would be = to 1:1, 1:2, or 1:3. The work- rest ratio 1:1 means that if you work, for example, 60 seconds you would also rest 60 seconds. The work rest ratio 1:2 means that you rest twice the time of work, so, if I worked 60 seconds I would rest 120 seconds and so on.  For athletes who are not highly trained, a work- rest ratio of 1:3, or 1:2 may be preferable. As a general rule for young athletes, the heart rate should drop to approximately 120-130 beats (2). The  exercise should be done at 80-100% of VO2Max to improve aerobic power.
2. Long Slow Distance Exercise– Low intensity exercise where you should be working at around 50-65% of  VO2Max. The duration is generally greater in length than the competition you would be doing.

  • It is believed that high intensity intervals are more effective in improving VO2Max than low intensity intervals (3,4). Meaning that even  running intervals of 30 seconds or less at full intensity could improve VO2Max.

Now, you are probably thinking that this is nice but how in the world do I calculate my VO2Max to know what percentage I am working at. This is quite easy…..but I will talk about that in my next blog. See you then.





  1. Kodama S, Saito K, Tanaka S, Mai M, Yachi Ym Asumi M, et al. Cardiorespiratory fitness as a quantitative predictor of all cause mortality and cardiovascular events in healthy men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association 301:2024-2035, 2009.
  2. Astrqnd P, and Rodahl K, Text bookd of Work Physiology. New York: McGraw-Hill,1986.
  3. Hicson RC, Bomze HA, and Holloszy JO. Linear increase in aerobic power induced by a strenous program of endurance exercise. J Appl Physiol 42: 372-376, 1977.
  4. Hickson RC, Hagberg JM, Ehsani AA. Time course of the adaptive responses of aerobic power and heart rate to training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 13:17-20

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