In June our company was asked to assess the fitness level of the 2015 Pro Hockey recruits at their national Combine.  This event gives each team’s trainers, owners, and scouts the opportunity to evaluate the skills and fitness level of eligible players prior to the draft.

The VO₂ Max test has the reputation of being nothing short of torture.  I watched these young boys as they gasped and staggered off the ice, having given every ounce of effort to impress.  “What was your time?” was the inevitable question they asked each other.

I found this question odd since time is irrelevant to their results.  This lack of understanding was disconcerting – especially among hockey players.  Just this year there has been much discussion about Duncan Keith who led the Blackhawks to their 3rd Stanley cup title and how his league topping VO₂ Max score of 76 may explain his ability to play effectively for such prolonged minutes.   (Duncan Keith)

But these young athletes obviously didn’t understand a VO₂ Max score because what they should have been asking was, “What was your max?”

In technical terms, VO₂ Max is milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute that your body is consuming. Although the math sounds confusing: ml/(kg∙min), the result is simply a number from 0-100.  This number is different than how long you stayed on the bike or treadmill.  It’s a measurement unique to you, telling what your body’s capacity is to perform and keep performing, whether that performance is as a professional athlete, enjoying a game of basketball with your son, or cleaning your house.

So what is a “good” VO₂ Max score?  Highly trained athletes can boast scores from Lance Armstrong’s 74 to Olympic cross country skiers in the 90’s.  Our young hockey recruits ran a range from 41-70.  The typical, untrained person will score between 25 – 40, depending on age and gender.

The beauty about VO₂ Max is that is can be a great tool for us average Joes.  Training has been shown to as much as double VO₂ Max.  Trainers who use VO₂ Max as part of their fitness regimen can give clients measureable goals to shoot for.  Real improvements in fitness are not only felt through an improved quality of life but can be seen and tracked through improved VO₂ Max scores.

So what’s your number?

Download Sample VO2 Max Test Results



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