vVOvmax and tlimvVO2max
Billat (1999), a professor of Sport Sciences at the University of Lille, has shown that improving an athlete's lactate threshold, VO2 max and running economy in four weeks is possible. To understand Billat's work, we must be aware of two new variables - vVO2 max and tlimvVO2 max.
VO2 max on its own is a poor predictor of performance. The velocity (vVO2 max) and duration (tlimvVO2 max) that athletes can operate at their VO2 max will better indicate performance.
At the end of the trial vVO2 max increased by 3%, and running economy increased by 6%.
Why the improvements?
Running at vVO2 max increases leg muscle strength and power, and enhanced strength improves the economy (muscle cells are more muscular, and fewer are needed to run at a particular pace. Thus, the energy expenditure is lower). vVO2 max-effort boosts neuromuscular responsiveness and coordination, which reduces energy expenditure.
What are "vVO2 max" and "tlimvVO2 max"?
tlimvVO2 max is the maximal amount of time a runner can keep going at vVO2 max. During the research, Billat showed that tlimvVO2 max, on average, was 6 minutes.
Billat found the best predictor of tlimvVO2 max is lactate threshold speed, i.e. the higher your lactate threshold speed, the longer your tlimvVO2 max. See the lactic page to find out how to improve your lactate threshold.
How do you determine your vVO2 max?
Take yourself down to the track, run as hard as you can for six minutes (360 seconds) and record the distance covered. Calculate your velocity in metres/second to determine your vVO2 max.
Let us assume you manage 1800 metres, then vVO2 max is 1800 ÷ 360 = 5 metres/second. You must repeat the test 48 hours later and use the highest velocity in your training sessions.
Remember to repeat the six-minute test every 4 to 6 weeks to determine your new vVO2 max.
What types of training sessions are there?
There are three training sessions that you could use:
The 30-30 session
This session comprises:
This cycle is repeated for as long as the 30 seconds at 100% vVO2 max can be sustained.
Based on achieving 1800m in the 6-minute run, then in 30 seconds, we can cover 150 metres. The 30-30 session would comprise 150 metres in 30 seconds followed by 75 metres in 30 seconds. It is repeated until you cannot maintain the 150 metres in 30 seconds.
The 30 seconds at 100% vVO2 max is essential, as this is the element from which the gains in fitness will be achieved. The recoveries need to run slowly and close to 50% vVO2 max.
The 60-60 session
This session comprises:
This cycle is repeated for as long as the 60 seconds at 100% vVO2 max can be sustained.
Based on achieving 1800m in the 6-minute run, then in 60 seconds, we can cover 300 metres. The 60-60 session would comprise 300 metres in 60 seconds followed by 150 metres in 60 seconds. It is repeated until you cannot maintain the 300 metres in 60 seconds.
The 3-3 session
This session comprises of:
This cycle is repeated for as long as the 3 minutes at 100% vVO2 max can be sustained or five repetitions have been completed.
Based on achieving 1800m in the 6-minute run, then in 3 minutes, we can cover 900 metres. The 3-3 sessions would comprise 900 metres in 3 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of recovery. It is repeated until you cannot maintain the 900 metres in 3 minutes or five repetitions have been completed.
Which of these sessions should you do?
Ballet recommends using the 30-30 session early in the season as an excellent, easily tolerated way to kick-start improvements in VO2 max, vVO2 max, lactate threshold and running economy. In the 4 to 6 weeks before a major competition, conduct one session a week of the 3-3 sessions.
vVO2 max Calculator
The following calculator will calculate your vVOvmax based on the distance you covered in the six-minute test and suggest a 30-30 workout, a 60-60 workout and a vVO2 max session for you. Enter the distance covered and then select the 'Calculate' button.
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