I'm about to start the Tabata routine to increase my cardio endurance.

The best I've found is this calculator.

Are those results accurate? If not, please suggest an alternative.

3 Answers 3


They are accurate as far as they go, but they are rough estimates at best.

VO2 max is a measurement of how much oxygen you are actually using at maximal exertion. The only way to accurately measure this is by using specialized equipment with a mask that captures all exhalations, and then measures the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide that is being exhaled to calculate how much oxygen you are actually using. Check with your local university/college kinesiology programs, some of them offer VO2 testing, or if you have a local triathlon/endurance coaching center, many of them offer VO2 testing for anywhere from $50 - $200 US dollars.

Also, VO2 max is really more an indicator of potential than it is anything else. You can raise your VO2 max by doing nothing more than losing weight, since part of the calculation is based on body weight. Say you have a 220 pound (100 kg) man who has a VO2 max of 50ml/kg/min, or a VO2 max of 5 liters (5000 ml). This man does absolutely nothing except diet to lose 44 lbs, so he is now at 80 kg. His VO2 max is now 62.5. You're not any more fit, you've just lost weight. (This is a somewhat simplistic example, there are other factors that go into this in most cases.)

  • I want to measure vo2max b/c I'm trying to improve my cardio ability (using HIIT approaches) just so I can keep up with the other folks in my Mt. Biking club. Nov 16, 2012 at 15:53
  • I understand that. Honestly though, if you want to keep up with the other cyclists, the best way to do that is more time on the bike, in the hurt zones. I am a bicycle racer and triathlete and part time coach, and that is the best way to improve in a sport is to do more of that sport.
    – JohnP
    Nov 17, 2012 at 1:31
  • @JohnP In your example, you suppose that an athlete who merely loses weight would increase his V02max just by losing weight... that isn't accurate. VO2 max is really just the volume of O2 consumed per minute. It is often reported in terms of ml/kg/min to compare different sized athletes, but the 220 pound athlete doesn't magically gain fitness just by losing weight. His V02 would likely stay the same, but his V02/kg would change.
    – lecrank
    Jan 25, 2016 at 20:47
  • @lecrank - I'm not suggesting that fitness increases (I state that in my last sentence). But, if you lose weight, your VO2Max will automatically increase, simply because it's a divisor in the equation. It's an indicator of potential, nothing more. If you want a better metric, vVO2Max (Velocity or speed at VO2 max) is much better.
    – JohnP
    Jan 25, 2016 at 21:00

You could try the Cooper test, which is basically "run at a steady pace for 12 minutes and look at the table". I've always found it sufficient for my purposes (to see how much I improved in a given time period).


On estimating your VO2Max number IN your home, and without specialist equipment, you could simply use the Sorensen formula:

VO2max = 15.3 * ( MaximumHeartRateBMP / BasalHeartRateBMP)


MaximumHeartRateBMP = 210 - 0.5*AgeYears

[ACMS Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription]

Alternatively use one of the Step tests: Queens, YMCA, Harvard, or the Rockport 1 mile walk, Cooper 12min run, Kindle's 12 min run, 1.5 mile run.... test. Unfortunately the VO2max number you get out from any of these tests is impacted by effort put in, so the numbers can fluctuate significantly e.g.

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