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What is VO2max?

VO2 max, or maximal oxygen uptake, is one factor that can determine an player's capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise. It is measured as "milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight."

This measurement is generally considered the best indicator of an player's cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance.

 

How to Perform the Cooper Test

To undertake this test you will require:400 metre track, Stopwatch, Whistle, Assistant.

    This test requires the athlete to run as far as possible in 12 minutes.

    • The athlete should perform a standard warm up.
    • The assistant gives the command “GO”, starts the stopwatch and the athlete commences the test.
    • The assistant keeps the athlete informed of the remaining time at the end of each lap (400m).
    • The assistant blows the whistle when the 12 minutes has elapsed and records the distance the athlete covered to the nearest 10 metres.

     

    Calculating VO2max

    An estimate of your VO2max can be calculated as follows:

    • (Distance covered in metres - 504.9) ÷ 44.73 = VO2max

    Link to VO2max Calculator

     

    Interpreting VO2max

    Normative data for the Cooper Test Male Athletes

     

    Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
    13-14 >2700m 2400-2700m 2200-2399m 2100-2199m <2100m
    15-16 >2800m 2500-2800m 2300-2499m 2200-2299m <2200m
    17-19 >3000m 2700-3000m 2500-2699m 2300-2499m <2300m
    20-29 >2800m 2400-2800m 2200-2399m 1600-2199m <1600m
    30-39 >2700m 2300-2700m 1900-2299m 1500-1999m <1500m
    40-49 >2500m 2100-2500m 1700-2099m 1400-1699m <1400m
    >50 >2400m 2000-2400m 1600-1999m 1300-1599m <1300m

    Normative data for the Cooper Test Female Athletes

    Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
    13-14 >2000m 1900-2000m 1600-1899m 1500-1599m <1500m
    15-16 >2100m 2000-2100m 1700-1999m 1600-1699m <1600m
    17-20 >2300m 2100-2300m 1800-2099m 1700-1799m <1700m
    20-29 >2700m 2200-2700m 1800-2199m 1500-1799m <1500m
    30-39 >2500m 2000-2500m 1700-1999m 1400-1699m <1400m
    40-49 >2300m 1900-2300m 1500-1899m 1200-1499m <1200m
    >50 >2200m 1700-2200m 1400-1699m 1100-1399m <1100m

     

    VO2max and Football

    • Soccer players posses excellent endurance with VO2max reported to range between 55 and 70 ml/kg/min in elite performers (Bangsbo et al, Reilly et al).
    • VO2 Max varies according to playing position. For outfield players, midfielders have significantly greater aerobic power values whilst central defenders have the lowest values.
    • The game is played at an average intensity close to the lactate threshold - approximately 80-90% of maximum heart rate (Helgerud et al, Reilly et al).
    • The greater a player's aerobic capacity (VO2max), the more ground they cover during a typical game and the number of sprints completed in a game also increases (Reilly et al, Smaros et al).
    • By improving the VO2max of youth soccer players by 11% over an 8 week period, a 20% increase in total distance covered during competitive match play was manifested, along with a 23% increase in involvements with the ball and a 100% increase in the number of sprints performed by each player (Reilly et al).

    Improving VO2max

    • Basic aerobic endurance training that follows the ACSM's recommended guidelines for cardiorespiratory fitness training is known to improve VO2max.
    • For elite players expecting high increases in VO2max high intensity interval training (HIIT) should be performed.  HIIT is a method of training that involves performing intervals of high intensity exercise interspersed with rest intervals of lower intensity exercise.  Generally this involves mximizing the time spent at or near to the individuals VO2max.
    • To improve VO2max your high intensity intervals should be performed at an intensity of roughly 90% of VO2max (this correlates to approximately 95% of maximum heart rate).
    • The length of each high intensity period should be roughly 75% of the maximum amount of time that you could last at this intensity before fatiguing. 
    • Rest intervals can be 2:1 for untrained players and closer to 1:1 for trained athletes.
    • During your rest intervals, you should carry on your exercise activity while reducing your intensity level to approximately 70% of maximum heart rate.
    • Time spent at high intensity during the bouts should be 20-30 mins total.
    • Perform HIIT now more than 2-3 times a week.
    • Many other factors affect VO2max: Age, Gender, Body Composition, Fitness level, Form of Exercise, Genetics.
    • Individuals VO2max will improve at different rates.

     

       

       

      References:

      1) Bangsbo J. The physiology of soccer with special reference to intense intermittent exercise. Acta Physiol Scand 1994;150:615

      2) Bangsbo J, Nrregaard L, Thorse F. Activity profile of competition soccer. Can J Sport Sci 1991;16:1106

      3) Reilly T . Physiological profile of the player. In: Ekblom B, ed. Football (soccer). London: Blackwell, 1994:7895.

      4) Helgerud J, Engen LC, Wisloff U, et al. Aerobic endurance training improves soccer performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2001;11:192531.

      5) Reilly T, Thomas V. A motion analysis of work-rate in different positional roles in professional football match-play. J Hum Mov Stud 1976;2:8797.

      6) Smaros G . Energy usage during a football match. In: Vecciet L, ed. Proceedings of the 1st International Congress on Sports Medicine Applied to Football. Rome: D Guanillo, 1980:795801.

      7) Helgerud J, Høydal K, Wang E, et al. (2007). "Aerobic high-intensity intervals improve VO2max more than moderate training". Med Sci Sports Exerc 39 (4): 665–71.

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