How to improve VO2 max

Triathlon training and racing lasts for more than a minute – several hours if you’re traveling for a long time – which makes you an “aerobic athlete”. This means that oxygen (O2) is a vital addition to existing and hidden fuel sources around your body to aid in the movement process.

While the VO2 max test will accurately measure the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use, there are many things you can do as an aerobic athlete to increase your oxygen processing system. here, Training trio is the hardestPhilip Hatzis and lead triathlon coach Joe Beer explain how you can improve your VO2 max.

How to improve VO2 max

Trainer Philip Hatzis explains how to improve your VO2 max…

Several studies indicate that time spent on VO2 max leads to the most significant improvement in this aspect of performance. Remember that this is an HR based training, so the time you spend in this HR area is key.

Oftentimes, athletes mistakenly assume that the time they perform a VO2 maximum strength or speed is the same scale, but it is not. Therefore, to truly train this aspect of performance, you must ensure that your heart rate is higher in the VO2 max area.

Athletes should rest well when going into the session to raise the heart rate sufficiently. The best way to do this training method is to extend the time spent on your VO2 max. So, look to spending more time with that elevated heart rate instead of trying to make a max effort higher than that or trying to “maximize” your VO2.

These sessions are demanding, and therefore, recovery should be proportional. Recovery is usually 1-2 times the working period (eg, 2 minutes of VO2 max of work will need 2-4 minutes of recovery).

However, these sessions are the icing on the cake. The first step is to make sure you are fit to exercise. Therefore, slower, stable, and easy efforts at or below the first lactate tipping point will be critical to improving VO2 max.

If VO2max is primarily a measure of fitness, fitness through traditional slow and steady work will also be an element of improving your fitness.

The literature indicates that people’s VO2max is mainly fixed by genetic factors and can only be improved by 10-15%. Although this may be true, most athletes will be better off when they become more aerobically efficient and work their aerobic capacity.

Both are from the training styles mentioned above. However, this must be done without losing sight of the point that increasing VO2max should be done with the aim of increasing the speed, not just increasing it in order to increase it.

Tips to Maximize VO2

Coach Joe Beer shares his tips for boosting your VO2 max…

Weight loss

Never forget that you, the athlete, are the biggest piece of gear you will carry on race day. If fat loss is possible and necessary, this will maintain a high oxygen consumption in all sports, especially on the mountain bike path.

Lower mass means that the running sections of a triathlon will be faster, so the fastest and most economical runners are the lighter, usually with a BMI of less than 20 for females and less than 21 for males.

But you can still find that adjustments to every piece of equipment you use on race day will help conserve your energy (it’s more expensive than cutting back). From modern low water retention wetsuits to lightweight air helmets, it is possible to reduce weight if you weigh the products and compare them to other items on the market.

Put the watches in it

To be more efficient at using oxygen, you need to do many hours of training. Despite the tendency in gyms to cram a quart into a pint bowl, competent athletes are born from several hours of weekly training. My guess is the age grouper is up front, 25% of their field needs to do 300-600 hours per year, not three very intense one hour classes per week.

But one tricky way to produce a better training effect with the same amount of hours may be to train with low glycogen levels, by doing a double session daily without trying to stockpile large glycogen between the two sessions.

Head to the hills for a better economy

The difficulty of hill running is partly due to the recycling of lactate production and/or higher lactate tolerance levels, along with better movement patterns resulting from exaggerated work against gravity.

Running on hills works, but there is a small time range in which you can cut 2-5% of your 5km time, so the time is right: do your last hard session a week before the race; After three days, do a fairly challenging session including 4 x 4min efforts from the upper Z1 to just below the threshold, followed by 4-5,1min efforts.

Add some high-intensity bike training efforts to your regimen

Pushing the system too hard can increase VO2 and improve the efficiency of lactate recycling when racing. Intervals can improve cycling economy, time trial capability, and thus enhance tricycle cycling performance from T1 to T2. It is also time efficient, weather independent, and very purposeful.

Consume oxygen boosters

It is possible to modify your diet or take nutritional supplements and increase oxygen levels for training and racing. Foods high in nitrates can make muscle movement more economical and speed improvements. For example, roasted beets, spinach, watercress, celery, watercress, and chervil, to name a few, all help increase your blood nitrate level.

But beetroot is the only research-proven method, so it’s a good choice to add to your diet. It has also been shown that the addition of sodium phosphate increases the maximum oxygen limit and increases performance.

(Photos: Johnny Guler)

For more tips on how to improve your performance, go to our coaching section

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