What is Garmin VO2 max & is it accurate?

Guide to garmin v02 max score for running- Best GPS Tech

The advent of measuring your V02 max – which is the measure of how much oxygen your body utilized during exercise – has helped many athletes accurately measure pace and heart rate. By far, the V02 max indicator on Garmin devices is one of the most popular for measuring maximum rate. So what is V02 max on Garmin watches and is it accurate?

V02 max is a heart rate and blood oxygen measurement, developed by Firstbeat’s fitness test technology. On Garmin watches, the V02 max indicator measures with pinpoint accuracy heart rate data based on oxygen output across different fitness level metrics. A Vo2 max estimate is then provided to the user.

In this guide, we will take a comprehensive look at the V02 max indicator on a Garmin device. We will analyze what your score means, and explore ways in which you can improve your overall statistics.

Whether you are using your Garmin device for aerobic fitness or multi-sports, the V02 max indicator is a useful tool for gauging your overall health.

What does VO2 max mean on Garmin?

The V02 max indicator is essentially a speed data test that shows the relationship between oxygen consumption (V02, volume of oxygen) and your heart rate data as exercise intensity increases.

This is measured through a linear progression, which means as your heart rate increases, you will get an increase in O2 consumption along with an increase in overall heart rate.

The higher your V02 max is, the more O2 your body can use for exercise. This was largely developed through intensive laboratory testing and can be used in conjunction with a chest strap to increase the overall heart rate data collected.

A Garmin watch can help you accurately estimate your Vo2 max. This can be achieved across a number of different activity profiles, and increased training based on the data reflected in the Garmin Connect app can help you to improve your endurance a great deal.

With this in mind, is Vo2 max an important metric or is this something that doesn’t reflect much in the long run?

Is it an important metric?

For an athlete, average sports enthusiast, or even everyday people needing to improve their physical endurance, Vo2 max is very important.

One of the primary benefits of using this technology is that it provides precise thresholds for the effort you put into the aerobic activity. The Vo2 max estimate also measures overall anaerobic measured-based thresholds when working muscles.

This also reflects the number of calories you can burn at these various thresholds in reliable segments that account for a specific age, fitness, weight, and the speed in which all this correlates to heart rate.

So why is this important?When your heart rate is getting far too high during physical activity, and you are in and out of the level ground aerobic threshold zone, you can then take a look at your heart rate and then bring it back down to a safer zone based on your O2 output.

This can help you to prolong your exercise by building endurance. This also prevents excess soreness, which can help you to be ready for more exercise the next day.

The Firstbeat technology made its first appearance in the Garmin Forerunner line, and the Vo2 max power meter has been featured on numerous models since this time.

How accurate is Garmin VO2 max?

In terms of being accurate, the Vo2 max is accurate based on an accurate GPS signal in line with Garmin maps that is then fine-tuned to your activity.

Whether you are a runner, are cycling on hilly terrain, or simply doing basic fitness activities, your watch can reflect an estimate with good precision.

If you have never measured your maximum heart rate before, a watch by Garmin will determine a preset value based on all the metrics and statistics you have filled out in your user profile – so be sure to fill this out!

For the best precision, runners or those who are cycling will want to perform these activities a few different times to get a more accurate maximum heart rate value.

As you perform more activities on your Garmin model, which can range from running to pole walking, the Vo2 max estimations become more precise.

If you are wondering, you can also use the auto-detection feature to do a basic estimation of your V02 max if you want to see where you may end up on the test as a means of preliminary research.

Once you make sure the auto-detection feature is on, you can start to perform your activity to determine the estimate of the value.

For an even more precise result, you can pair your Garmin model with an optical HR watch or a chest strap that measures heart rate. Using a chest strap can amplify your data across many different studies.

Can I increase my Garmin VO2 max score?

Apart from using a chest strap or additional HR device, there are many ways in which you can increase your Vo2 max estimate.

Garmin likely uses the following metrics when gathering your score:

  • Speed and HR points
  • Removal of the points that are too different from the usual estimate
  • An average of HR that is different for each speed
  • Speed x 3.5 to achieve a score

So if you do not have a chest strap, you can interpret the data to therefore see how much training you need to build up to each day.

An example of this could be to calculate the effort it takes you to do a task and then repeat the activity each day and expand upon it in small increments.

The margin for error for most Vo2 max estimates can vary across individual device models but are typically between 10-15%.

What is a good VO2 max score for running?

A good Vo2 max estimate for runners is going to vary depending on the fitness level of the runner.

If you are someone who has not been active in quite a while, or lived a rather sedentary lifestyle, then once you start running, you are going to see drastic improvements.

For an experienced or professional runner, the score and data are going to be rather minuscule for a long while since you are already physically conditioned to the activity.

Therefore, a good Vo2 max score for running for men is around 50 mL/kg/min. For women, a good score is 45 mL/kg/min.

Do keep in mind that these are estimates, and any Vo2 max training session is going to be quite difficult if you have not been running for a while.


Does losing weight increase VO2 max?

Actually, the more you increase your overall Vo2 max, the more weight you can expect to lose. But also, as you lose more and more weight, you will start to notice that your Vo2 max score will become better and better as your overall endurance increases.

So yes, losing weight does actively increase your Vo2 max threshold over time. Not immediately, but definitely, as time goes on.

How does age affect VO2 max?

As we all age, which is part of life, our Vo2 max threshold will start to decrease as each year goes by. According to one scientific study, you can expect your Vo2 max to decrease by around 10% as each decade passes after the age of 25.

One way to try and circumnavigate this fact, is to ensure that your training never lapses or decreases, but you also need to pay attention to your score, since it takes into account both heart rate and 02 output.

It is never a good idea to push yourself beyond what your body is capable of handling.

Why is my VO2 max low?

A low Vo2 max estimate can come from a variety of different reasons. One reason may have to do with gender. Men tend to have more muscles than women and this does affect Vo2 max a great deal.

Another reason could be the overall altitude of your location. The higher the elevation you are at, the lower your Vo2 max score tends to be.


So, is Garmin’s Vo2 max estimates precise and a representation of good accuracy? Yes, you can expect a good Vo2 max score, be it running, cycling, or other activities, on any Garmin device. Vo2 max is a beneficial measurement of your blood oxygen levels, and Garmin’s Vo2 max estimates are some of the best in terms of accuracy.

Keen to learn more about the functions of Garmin device features? Find out more here:

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