How to calculate your own VO2Max

How to Calculate Your Own VO2Max

By PCG Coach Chris Myers

As every cyclist and coach knows, training with power is the gold standard. What many do not know, however, is that it can tell us much more than just training zones. We can use the information gathered through field testing to calculate a cyclist’s VO2Max.  The beauty of this concept is that anyone can do it, and the calculation is very reliable and accurate.

Wattage & Weight

In order to calculate your VO2Max, you need to measure two data points. 

The first is your wattage, which you can get from your 20-minute field test. The key to the wattage measurement is to make sure the measurement occurs at steady state. The second data point is your weight in kilograms.

Take these two pieces of information and just input them into the following equation developed and tested by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):

Relative VO2Max = [(10.8 x W)/M] + 7

where:         

W = watts

M = cyclist weight in kg

VO2Max = mL/(kg x min) (ACSM, 2010)

To put this into perspective, let’s assume you’re a 75.9 kg (167 lb) time trialist. In your last 20 minute FTP field test, your coach calculated your FTP as 300 watts. Now that we have those two numbers, use the above equation to calculate your VO2Max.

VO2Max = [(10.8 x 300w)/75.9] + 7

                = 49.7 mL/(kg x min)

Your VO2Max is a powerful piece of information. You can use this data to quantify your fitness level or compare yourself to other cyclists. The advantage to calculating your VO2Max with this equation is that you don’t need the expensive laboratory testing. Most of us can’t afford to spend money to have our VO2Max tested. This calculation is admittedly only an approximation and contains error, but it is very close to what would be measured in the laboratory. 

Now you have a way to know your VO2Max. Go forth and find out what it is.

Dr. Chris Myers is a Peaks Coaching Group Master Coach and a USAC Level 1 Coach. He is a LEOMO Motion Analysis Certified Coach and a USAT Level 1 Coach.