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WHAT DOES VO2max Mean?

Exercise physiologists define VO2 max as the maximum volume of oxygen that by the body can consume during intense, whole-body exercise, while breathing air at sea level. This volume is expressed as a rate, millilitres per kg bodyweight per minute (ml/kg/min). It is a measure of your capacity to generate the energy required for endurance activities such as football and is one of the most important factors determining your ability to exercise for longer than four to five minutes.

Improving your VO2 max by 10 percent without changing any other performance factors can take more than a minute off your 5k time, and is an essential factor for all endurance sports including Football. Your sedentary VO2 max values are genetically determined. However, all individuals can make drastic improvements in VO2 max with the right training stimulus. Thus, to attain your best possible performances, VO2 max improvement is one aspect of your training that should not be ignored. 

What is an ideal VO2 max score?

The key thing is to get better look at this link to see if you improved from last year. In terms of bechmarks world class male runners, cyclist and cross-country skiers typically exceed VO2 max of 70 ml/kg/min and a rare few may exceed 90 ml/kg/min. The highest VO2 max value ever recorded, 93 ml/kg/min, was from a Scandinavian cross country skier. As you can see from the table below showing ideal VO2max scores for various sports we as footballers are aiming at a mere 60-65 ml/kg/min
Vo2 max Sport
>75 ml/kg/min Endurance Runners and Cyclists
65 ml/kg/min Squash
60-65 ml/kg/min Football (male)
55 ml/kg/min Rugby
50 ml/kg/min Volleyball (female)
50 ml/kg/min Baseball (male)



A few key results out there on record and in scientific literature.

  • Highest ever recorded 93 ml/kg/min
  • Miguel Indurain (Cyclist) 88 ml/kg/min
  • Highest ever recorded Soccer player Hakan Mild (IFK Gothenburg) 78.4 ml/kg/min
  • Seb Coe (Middle Distance runner) 77 ml/kg/min
  • Lee Gong Dook (Middlesborough) (2007) 71 ml/kg/min
  • David Beckham (Manchester United) 67.6 ml/kg/min
  • Elite Norwegian Players (1998) 67.67 (±4.0) ml/kg/min
  • German 1981 squad 67.0 (±4.5) ml/kg/min
  • 1st Division Spanish League (2001) 66.4 (±7.6) ml/kg/min
  • Ben Hilfenhaus (Australian Cricketer) (2007) 64.1 ml/kg/min
  • Norwegian division 1-3 (1997) 62.8 (±4.1) ml/kg/min
  • Derby County FC Squad (2005) 62.1 (±5.0) ml/kg/min
  • SBC Club Record (Tom Moreton Pre Season 2014) 61.4 ml/kg/min
  • Martin Johnson (England Rugby) 60.6 ml/kg/min
  • Values for Elite players lie in the 55-70 ml/kg/min region with the mean value of 500 UK professional players in 2003 being 59 ml/kg/min
  • Players falling below 60 ml/kg/min may fail to perform well consistently at the highest level of professional play.
  • An English Premiere League Squad (2002) 59.4 (±6.2) ml/kg/min
  • Edward Watson (SBC Coach) (pre season 2006) 57.5 ml/kg/min
  • Kelly Smith (England Ladies World Cup Team) (June 2007) 57.2 ml/kg/min
  • Casey Stone (England Ladies) (2007) 57.2 ml/kg/min
  • Professional referees are required to make 50.84 ml/kg/min on the bleep test
  • Assistant referees are required to be able to make 50.26 ml/kg/min on the bleep test

For information, below are the generally accepted norms for the male population. Plot yourself on the graph and see how well you did.



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