We all know that exercising is important when it comes to shedding those pounds. But, if you really want to take your weight loss to the next level, you’ll want to amp up your level of physical exertion. And, one measure of how much you can exert yourself is VO2 max.
For most people, incorporating any sort of additional physical activity can help you get into better shape. But, for those who want to go the extra mile, such as high-performance athletes, paying attention to VO2 max can help improve their training, which in turn can lead to weight loss. The average person needn’t be overly concerned with VO2 max, but knowing how it works can help you tailor your workouts to increase your chances of weight loss.
Need a good place to start? The Aaptiv app has plenty of heart-pumping workouts to help you improve your VO2 max and lose weight.
What is VO2 max?
VO2 max is your body’s maximum amount of oxygen consumption during exercise. Put simply, the more oxygen you can burn through, the better. VO2 max tells you your limits, which can help you determine whether you’re pushing yourself to your maximum potential during your workouts.
Although understanding the concept is easy enough, testing one’s VO2 max is a complicated and difficult task, requiring high performance technology. “It’s difficult for an average fitness enthusiast to measure one’s VO2 max without the appropriate gear,” says Aaptiv Trainer John Thornhill. “In addition, it is not recommended to actually test your VO2 max often, because it puts you in a physically exhaustive state, suited primarily for high performance athletes or people with extreme cardio endurance.”
That being said, becoming aware of your VO2 max can help you understand your fitness level and tailor your exercises to maximize your weight loss. If you do want to test your VO2 max, the equipment can be found in some gyms or at a university exercise physiology testing laboratory.
How can it help with weight loss?
“The higher your VO2 max, the faster and longer you can work out, resulting in more calories burned,” says Personal Trainer Mike Martin. By increasing frequency, duration and/or intensity, you can improve your cardiorespiratory endurance and, therefore, improve the efficiency of your heart and muscles.
“The higher one’s VO2 max, the more oxygen you have access to, and thus the longer you can withstand intense exercise,” says Thornhill. If you aim to maximize the intensity of your workouts, you can then hopefully help maximize your weight loss.
What can you do to increase VO2 max to speed up weight loss?
“Moral of the story, get out of your comfort zone to increase [VO2 max],” says Martin. You can increase your VO2 max overtime by training through moderate to high intensity intervals.
“High-intensity workouts have been proven not only to improve VO2 max, but also to burn the greatest number of calories in the shortest amount of time,” says Personal Trainer Lesley Bell. “An example of this would be to raise your heart rate between 75 to 90 percent of your maximum. Try to keep it there for between 60 to 90 seconds, then allow for two to three minutes of recovery.” You can achieve this through activities such as cycling and incline running.
You can also help to improve VO2 max by simply working out more often. “Although it is not recommended to do more than four days per week of high-intensity exercise, a healthy mix of longer and shorter bouts at various intensities will yield the best results, both for cardiorespiratory fitness and weight loss,” says Bell. Mixing up your workouts can help increase your VO2 max, just be sure to warm up and cool down properly to avoid injury.
At the end of the day, if you’re actively trying to improve your physical fitness by engaging in more than your usual activity, it’s going to help improve your VO2 max. But, there are also some factors that remain out of your control, and they’re not worth stressing over. “Keep in mind that every individual’s VO2 max is different due to genetics, which plays a huge role in this scientific analysis,” says Thornhill.
Improving your VO2 max can be challenging, but working to maximize your physical fitness can help you speed up your weight loss. Incorporating more high intensity workouts, working out regularly, and switching up the types of workouts you do can all help improve your VO2 max and, in turn, help with weight loss. If you need some guidance when it comes to high intensity workouts, there are plenty to be found on the Aaptiv app.