Sports Coach Logo Sports Coach Training Principles Fitness Components




Cooper VO2 max Test

Testing and measurement are the means of collecting information upon which subsequent performance evaluations and decisions are made. In the analysis, we need to consider the factors influencing the results.


The Cooper Test (Cooper 1968)[1] is used to monitor the athlete's aerobic endurance and to obtain an estimate of their VO2 max.

Required Resources

To conduct this test, you will require:

  • 400-metre track
  • Stopwatch
  • Whistle
  • Assistant

How to conduct the test

This test requires the athlete to run as far as possible in 12 minutes.

  • The athlete warms up for 10 minutes
  • The assistant gives the command “GO”, starts the stopwatch, and the athlete commences the test
  • The assistant keeps the athlete informed of the remaining time at the end of each lap (400m)
  • The assistant blows the whistle when the 12 minutes have elapsed and records the distance the athlete covered to the nearest 10 metres


The following normative data, Cooper (1968)[1], is available for this test:

Male Athletes

Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
13-14 >2700m 2400-2700m 2200-2399m 2100-2199m <2100m
15-16 >2800m 2500-2800m 2300-2499m 2200-2299m <2200m
17-19 >3000m 2700-3000m 2500-2699m 2300-2499m <2300m
20-29 >2800m 2400-2800m 2200-2399m 1600-2199m <1600m
30-39 >2700m 2300-2700m 1900-2299m 1500-1999m <1500m
40-49 >2500m 2100-2500m 1700-2099m 1400-1699m <1400m
>50 >2400m 2000-2400m 1600-1999m 1300-1599m <1300m

Female Athletes

Age Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor
13-14 >2000m 1900-2000m 1600-1899m 1500-1599m <1500m
15-16 >2100m 2000-2100m 1700-1999m 1600-1699m <1600m
17-20 >2300m 2100-2300m 1800-2099m 1700-1799m <1700m
20-29 >2700m 2200-2700m 1800-2199m 1500-1799m <1500m
30-39 >2500m 2000-2500m 1700-1999m 1400-1699m <1400m
40-49 >2300m 1900-2300m 1500-1899m 1200-1499m <1200m
>50 >2200m 1700-2200m 1400-1699m 1100-1399m <1100m

To evaluate the athlete's performance, select the age group and gender, enter the total distance covered and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Age Gender Distance metres
Assessment -  


An estimate of your VO2 max can be calculated as follows:

  • (Distance covered in metres - 504.9) ÷ 44.73

To estimate of your VO2 max enter, the Distance covered and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Distance metres VO2 max ml/kg/min

For an assessment of your VO2 max score, see the VO2 max page.


The test result is analysed by comparing it with the athlete's previous results for this test. It is expected that, with appropriate training between each test, the analysis would indicate an improvement in the athlete's VO2 max, anaerobic and aerobic thresholds.

Target Group

This test is suitable for endurance athletes and players of endurance sports (e.g. football, rugby) but not for individuals where the test would be contraindicated.


Test reliability refers to how a test is consistent and stable in measuring its intended measure. Reliability will depend upon how strict the test is conducted and the individual's level of motivation to perform the test. The following link provides various factors influencing the results reliability.


Test validity refers to the degree to which the test measures what it claims to measure and the extent to which inferences, conclusions, and decisions based on test scores are appropriate and meaningful. This test provides a means to monitor training on the athlete's physical development. There are published VO2 max tables, and the correlation to the actual VO2 max is high. For assessing your Vo2 max, see the VO2 max normative data tables.


  • Minimal equipment required
  • Simple to set up and conduct
  • More than one athlete can conduct the test at the same time
  • The athlete can administer the test


  • Specific facilities required - 400m track
  • Assistant required to administer the test

Free Calculator


  1. COOPER, K.H. (1968) A means of assessing maximal oxygen intake. JAMA. 203, p. 135-138

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (1997) Cooper VO2 max Test [WWW] Available from: [Accessed