Known Top VO2Max Scores for Various Athletes

A few key results out there on record and in scientific literature.
Highest ever recorded Oskar Svendsen (cyclist) 97.5 ml/kg/min
Espen Harald Bjerke (cross country skier) 96.0 ml/kg/min
Greg LeMond (Cyclist) 92.5 ml/kg/min
Matt Carpenter (marathon runner) 92 ml/kg/min
Tore Ruud Hofstad (cross country skier) 92.0 ml/kg/min
Miguel Indurain (Cyclist) 88 ml/kg/min
Lance Armstrong (Cyclist) 85 ml/kg/min
Chris Fromme (Cyclist) 84.6 ml/kg/min
Mark Walters (Cyclist) 83.5 ml/kg/min
Kip Keino (Olympic 1500m champion) 82 ml/kg/min
The best score from Øyvind Leonhardsen (professional footballer) was 80.9 ml/kg/min
Seb Coe (Middle Distance runner) 77 ml/kg/min
Jack Flatley (professional boxer) 71 ml/kg/min
Lee Gong Dook (Middlesborough) (2007) 71 ml/kg/min
David Beckham (Manchester United) 67.6 ml/kg/min
Elite Norwegian Players (1998) 67.67 (±4.0) ml/kg/min
German 1981 squad 67.0 (±4.5) ml/kg/min
1st Division Spanish League (2001) 66.4 (±7.6) ml/kg/min
Ben Hilfenhaus (Australian Cricketer) (2007) 64.1 ml/kg/min
Norwegian division 1-3 (1997) 62.8 (±4.1) ml/kg/min
Derby County FC Squad (2005) 62.1 (±5.0) ml/kg/min
SBC Club Record (Pre Season 2008) 61.4 ml/kg/min
Martin Johnson (England Rugby) 60.6 ml/kg/min
Values for Elite players lie in the 55-70 ml/kg/min region with the mean value of 500 UK professional players in 2003 being 59 ml/kg/min
Players falling below 60 ml/kg/min may fail to perform well consistently at the highest level of professional play.
An English Premier League Squad (2002) 59.4 (±6.2) ml/kg/min
Edward Watson (SBC Coach) (pre season 2006) 57.5 ml/kg/min
Kelly Smith (England Ladies World Cup Team) (June 2007) 57.2 ml/kg/min
Casey Stone (England Ladies) (2007) 57.2 ml/kg/min
Professional referees are required to make 50.84 ml/kg/min on the bleep test
Assistant referees are required to be able to make 50.26 ml/kg/min on the bleep test

VO2 max and age

As we get older our VO2 max decreases. A study by Jackson et al. (1995) found the average decrease was 0.46 ml/kg/min per year for men (1.2%) and 0.54 ml/kg/min for women (1.7%). The decline is due to a number of factors including a reduction in maximum heart rate and maximum stoke volume.

VO2 max for various groups

The tables below, adapted from Wilmore and Costill (2005), detail normative data for VO2 max (ml/kg/min) in various population groups.

Non Athletes

Age Male Female
10-19 47-56 38-46
20-29 43-52 33-42
30-39 39-48 30-38
40-49 36-44 26-35
50-59 34-41 24-33
60-69 31-38 22-30
70-79 28-35 20-27

Explanation of the Mathematics of Vo2 Max

Max VO2 = 132.853 (0.0769 x W) (0.3877 x A) + (6.315 x G) (3.2649 x T1) (0.1565 x HR1-4)
W = body weight,
A = age,
G = gender (0 = female, 1 = male),
T1 = time for the 1 mile track walk expressed in minutes and hundredths of a minute,
HR1-4 = the heart rate in beats . min-1 at the end of the last quarter mile.
The translation for a 19-year-old male (whose Max VO2 turns out to be 67.63) is:
Body weight = 151.5 lb., T1 = 13.56 min, HR1-4 = 145 beats . min-1
Max VO2 = 132.853 (0.0769 x 151.5) (0.3877 x 19) + (6.315 x 1) (3.2649 x 9.75) (0.1565 x 125)
Max VO2 = 67.63 ml . kg-1 . min-1

An estimate of your VO2 max can be determined using any of the following tests:

  • 2.4km Run Test
  • Astrand Treadmill test – VO2 max test running on a treadmill
  • Astrand 6 minute Cycle test – VO2 max test on a static bike
  • Balke VO2 max test – suitable for endurance sports
  • Balke Incremental treadmill protocol test- VO2 max test on a treadmill (male
  • and female tests)
  • Bruce Incremental treadmill protocol test- VO2 max test on a treadmill (male and female tests)
  • Cooper VO2 max test – suitable for endurance sports
  • Conconi test
  • Critical Swim Speed – measure of a swimmers aerobic capacity
  • Home Step Test – a step test you can conduct at home
  • Harvard Step Test – measure of cardiovascular fitness
  • Multistage Fitness Test or Bleep test – VO2 max test for endurance sports
  • Queens College Step Test – VO2 max test
  • Rockport Fitness walking test – VO2 max test
  • Tecumseh Step Test – measure of cardiovascular fitness
  • Treadmill VO2max test – VO2 max test
  • VO2 max from non-exercise data – VO2 max test
  • VO2 max from a one mile jog
  • VO2 max from a race result (time for a distance)
  • VO2 max Step Test
  • Wheelchair VO2 max Test

History of the VO2 Max

The first mention of VO2 Max in the medical literature came in 1969 in Poland:

[Relation of the predicted maximal oxygen consumption (Vo2 max.) in humans to the age of workers in various professions].

Kozlowski S, Kirschner H, Kamiński A, Starnowski R.

Pol Arch Med Wewn. 1969 Feb;42(2):173-80. Polish.

This was followed by:

Relation between VO2 max and body temperature in hot humid air conditions.
Wyndham CH, Strydom NB, Van Rensburg AJ, Benade AJ, Heyns AJ.
J Appl Physiol. 1970 Jul;29(1):45-50.

Effects of acute alterations of Vo2 max on endurance capacity of men.
Gleser MA, Vogel JA.
J Appl Physiol. 1973 Apr;34(4):443-7.

Comparison of continuous and discontinuous treadmill and bicycle tests for max Vo2.
McArdle WD, Katch FI, Pechar GS.
Med Sci Sports. 1973 Fall;5(3):156-60.

The relationship of leg volume (muscle plus bone) to maximal aerobic power output on a bicycle ergometer: the effects of anaemia, malnutrition and physical activity.
Davies CT.
Ann Hum Biol. 1974 Jan;1(1):47-55.

The effect on Vo2 max of adding arm work to maximal leg work.
Gleser MA, Horstman DH, Mello RP.
Med Sci Sports. 1974 Summer;6(2):104-7.

Mentions of the VO2 Max by year:

1960s – 1

1970s – 227

1980s – 688

1990s – 633

2000s – 461

2010s – 492

As you can see the first 6 years & 2 months of this decade have already produced more research publications in the field of VO2 Max than all of the previous decade.