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The Apple Watch metric that reveals your aerobic fitness


Want to know how fit you really are? Apple Watch provides plenty of insightful metrics that you can check out. So much so, in fact, that there isn’t enough space for everyone in the Workout app. Instead, you’ll find much of that crucial data buried in the Health app on your iPhone.

One of the most interesting is the VO2 max, which is essentially the ultimate test of your aerobic fitness. If you like endurance sports, VO2 max is a metric you’ll want to check.

Here’s a quick guide to everything you need to know about VO2 max on Apple Watch: what is it, how to use it and how to improve yours.

What is the VO2 maximum?

VO2 max is a measure of the amount of oxygen in the air you breathe in your lungs which is then carried through your bloodstream to your muscles, where it is converted into energy during a workout.

The “V” in original version2 max represents the volume. It is measured in liters per minute (L / min): the volume of oxygen you breathe in one minute. But Apple uses a slightly more complicated metric: mL / (kgmin). This means milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute. Taking your body weight into account in this way makes the statistic more comparable between different people, as a taller person is likely to consume more oxygen than a shorter person.

The “max” in original version2 max means the measurement should be taken when you’re training at your maximum exertion level – literally when you’re giving it all you’ve got.

Why VO2 max interesting?

The key to being good at endurance sports is the ability to maintain high exertion intensity for a long period of time. Running fast for a few yards is great, but it won’t do much if you are training for a marathon.

The reason you can’t maintain your fastest pace for very long is because your body uses different energy systems to fuel different levels of training intensity. Low-intensity workouts, such as slow walking or jogging, are easy to maintain for a long time because they depend on your aerobic energy system. This means that they are supplied primarily by the oxygen that you breathe in while you are exercising.

But as you increase the intensity of your workout (for example, by running faster), you can’t breathe enough oxygen fast enough to fuel your muscles. This is when your anaerobic energy systems come in. They are like back-up systems that use the fuel stored in your muscles to supplement the energy you get from your aerobic energy system, allowing you to Continue.

The problem is, your anaerobic energy systems are only good for short bursts before they burn out. Then your system is overloaded with waste that makes your muscles feel like you are burning. At this point, you are forced to slow down or stop your workout.

With training, you can improve your aerobic energy system to become more efficient. This improvement is what VO2 maximum measurements. An increase in VO2 max indicates an improvement in your aerobic capacity. This means you can train harder and for longer, without resorting to your anaerobic energy systems.

Why does the Apple Watch use the “predicted VO2 max ‘?

To accurately measure your VO2 max, you must wear a face mask. This is the only way to know for sure how much oxygen is coming in and out of your lungs.

Since the Apple Watch is worn on your wrist, not your face, that’s out of the question. So, instead, Apple Watch provides an “expected VO2 metric max. This is an estimate based on the changes in your heart rate during exercise.

Are VO2 maximum predictions accurate?

The relationship between heart rate and VO2 max is not precise, and it varies from person to person. So Apple’s predicted VO2 max may not be very precise. The estimate also depends on the heart rate sensor on your Apple Watch. And while it’s pretty good, it’s not foolproof.

One way to improve its accuracy is to connect your watch to a Bluetooth chest heart rate sensor, like the Polar H10.

Check your used vehicle2 max in the Health app

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You will find your predicted VO2 max in the Health app on your iPhone.
Photo: Graham Bower / Cult of Mac

Apple Watch can record your VO2 max, but you cannot currently check it on the watch itself. To view your stats, you need to use the Health app on your iPhone. Go to Health data> Activity and scroll down to find it. If you have readings for the current month, they will be highlighted in a large orange box. If you don’t have an used vehicle2 max data, it will languish at the bottom of the list, under No data recorded.

Why is there no VO2 max data in the Health application?

If you can’t find a VO2 Maximum readings in the Health app, it’s probably because you haven’t logged the right type of workout with your watch yet. Only two types of training can produce an estimated VO2 max on Apple Watch: Outdoor walk and Outdoor running.

VO2 max refers to the maximum effort. You will therefore need to record a fairly intensive workout to generate a reading. And you will have to hold it for at least 20 minutes.

How to improve your VO2 max

VO2 max is determined by a combination of genetics and fitness level. Elite endurance athletes are blessed with good genetics that the rest of us will probably never be able to compete with. But with training, it is possible to increase your VO2 max.

If you want to know how you stack up against the typical VO2 max levels, see this table. But what’s normal varies from person to person, so it’s best to focus on your own stats to see your progress, rather than comparing with other people.

To train your VO2 max, you should exercise at a sufficient intensity to reach your anaerobic threshold. This is the point at which you can no longer sustain your training with just your aerobic energy system. You will know when you approach the threshold. You start to feel short of breath and you feel a burning sensation in your muscles.

Recording a 20 minute high intensity outdoor workout once a week will help increase your VO2 max. It will also ensure that you regularly record your planned used vehicle.2 max.

Alternatively, you can try a HIIT workout. High-intensity interval training combines short periods of intense exercise with rest intervals in between, like my repeated hill training.

Are you sure you want to get the most out of your fitness?

Be careful when doing high intensity workouts like this. Especially if you are not used to it. Making sudden changes in the level of exertion you put your body through can cause injury. If in doubt, consult your doctor first.

VO planned2 max is a very interesting and welcome addition to Apple Watch’s growing arsenal of fitness metrics. If you are training for a marathon or triathlon, you should definitely check it out.


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