Improving your VO2 max—your body's ability to utilize oxygen during exercise—is crucial for both athletic performance and overall health. Regardless of age and especially if you are already beyond forty and have not worked on this so far, enhancing your VO2 Max is crucial regardless of gender.
Begin with the basics: aerobic exercise. Activities like running, swimming, and cycling are essential. The recommendation is to aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of intense activity each week. The key here is to do this at a pace that does not seem difficult. I know this is counter intuitive but slow long walks, slow long cycling trips are what you are looking for.
Another effective approach is High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This involves alternating between periods of intense exercise and rest or low-intensity exercise. For instance, you could sprint for 30 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds, repeating this pattern eight times. Research shows HIIT is exceptionally effective at boosting VO2 max. Remember this is for a few minutes per week only.
Don’t ignore strength training. Building muscle can contribute to an enhanced VO2 max. Incorporate full-body workouts focused on major muscle groups at least twice a week. Strength training improves both bone and muscle.
Cross-training helps prevent exercise monotony and muscle imbalances. By diversifying your workout routine, you improve multiple aspects of your physical fitness, including VO2 max. So run, swim, walk, cycle. Do more.
Increasing your workout intensity gradually helps you continue to make gains. This principle, known as progressive overload, can be applied by running faster, lifting heavier weights, or extending the duration of your workouts.
The easiest thing to ignore is taking it easy. A rest day, which is not a day where you do nothing, but a day when you do something less intensive than normal is essential for recovery and ultimately improving performance. Include one to two rest days each week, and consider active recovery activities like walking or yoga.
Diet also plays a role. Fuel your body with a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Good nutrition can optimize your performance and, consequently, contribute to improving your VO2 max.
The key thing to remember is that improvement won't happen overnight. Consistent effort is required to raise your VO2 max. Monitor your progress and adjust your routine as needed to continue improving.