Knowledge Base > Physiology and Metrics

Maximal Oxygen Consumption - VO2max

The maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) is probably the most important and best-known parameter for high endurance performance. It indicates the maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilize and describes the size of the engine, so to speak. Oxygen uptake is usually measured in milliliters (ml) per minute (min) and relativized to body weight (ml/min/kg).

Composition of VO2max

The formula of the maximum oxygen uptake reads

VO2max = Stroke volume (SV) x Heart rate (HR) x Arteriovenous Oxygen Difference (avDO2).

Stroke volume

The volume of blood pumped from the heart with each heartbeat.

Heart rate

The frequency of heartbeats per period of time.

Arteriovenous Oxygen Difference

The difference between the amount of oxygen transported to the muscle cells via the arterial blood and the amount returned from the muscle to the lungs via the venous system. The higher this difference, the higher the oxygen exhaustion of the muscles and the more oxygen is available to the muscles for generating energy.


VO2max is defined as the point at which all these systems are working at full capacity and the maximum amount of oxygen is available to the working muscles.

The aerobic metabolism

The oxygen uptake increases proportionally to the aerobic energy production. Thus, VO2max describes the metric of aerobic performance and a higher VO2max means better performance in all endurance sports!

A high level of aerobic capacity, as well as the ability to quickly break down lactate and metabolize it as an energy source, will lead to an improvement in your anaerobic threshold and endurance performance.

Why should I know my VO2max?

  • To understand how your performance, especially your anaerobic threshold, is composed.
  • Know your aerobic capacity to identify individual training zones and increase your VO2max through effective training.
  • Evaluate your training progress and the strengths and weaknesses of your metabolic profile.
  • Identify and understand your fat metabolism and carbohydrate consumption for effective training and pacing strategies.