Do you know your MAS ?

The maximum aerobic speed is the speed at which a runner can run while consuming his maximum amount of oxygen (VO2max).

Knowing the maximum aerobic speed is an interesting tool to determine your training rhythms and a good indicator of performance improvements.

Differences between running according to pulsations or according to your VAM

Training by VAM always establishes the same intensity for a session that develops at the same%, since their zones are determined by race rhythms.

Therefore, training 80% of your VAM will always be running at the same speed. In contrast, the pulsations do not work in the same way, with them we exercise in a different way. They are a response of the organism to an effort and can be altered by factors such as heat, stress, lack of rest, fatigue, etc.

In this way, two sessions at 80% of your pulsations will not always be performed at the same pace, the day you are more rested or have few degrees of temperature you will roll at a higher rate than a day when you are more tired or with Much hot.

Training by VAM is one of the best ways to optimize our workouts. This does not mean that we ignore the heart rate monitor, an ideal training is based on the combined work of both data.

However, we must bear in mind that depending on the objective of the session one will have more weight than the other. After all, VAM is a stimulus in training and pulsations are the answer. The stimulus in the VAM is always the same, for example, work at X rhythm with a variable response (pulsations) of my organism to that stimulus.

How to calculate your VAM

To know your maximum aerobic speed (VAM), there are different tests (Beep Test (Shuttle run), test of 1000 meters, test of 3 to 6 minutes., Test of 1600 meters, test of 2000 meters, Maximum Incremental test in Track, etc.).

Our proposal is to do the Semicooper test or 6 minutes.

The protocol is to travel the maximum possible distance in 6 minutes, trying to keep a constant rhythm, and the formula is:

Maximum Aerobic Speed

(VAM) = 3600000 / space in meters x 10 = seconds

With an example you will see it better:

In the 6 minutes you travel a distance of 1500 meters,

VAM = 3600000/1500 X 10 = 240 ‘/ km which in min / km would be 4:00 (15 km / h)

Aspects to take into account to perform the test.

  • Perform a good warm-up of about 20-25 min. then perform stretches with short time intervals to finish activating your body.
  • Perform the test, if possible on the athletics track, at maximum speed.
    The result (average speed) of this test will be your VAM and from this value we determine the percentages and training zones.
  • Keep in mind that in tests or distances to determine your VAM where the situation is more similar to the test our data will be more accurate.
  • It is recommended that every 3-4 weeks you perform a test to adjust the results to the evolution achieved during the season.
  • How to apply my VAM to my training program

Seen all the above, we show you some bases so that you can take out your training zones and you can thus give variety to your workouts, which will motivate you more and help you to perform better.

Set up training zones

We propose a simplified model based on the two thresholds that separate the three zones represent physiological changes, measurable by the level of blood lactate or respiration.

These changes have a lot to do with the contribution of the different energy systems of the body to support each level of intensity, so it is usually spoken of the aerobic threshold (separates zone 1 and 2) and anaerobic threshold (separates zone 2 and 3). ).

Within your training plan, it is important that you include workouts within different zones; If all your workouts are in zone 1 (a very slow pace), in the long run you will stagnate; If all your workouts are in zone 3, you will inevitably fall into overtraining and / or you will be injured.

Our advice is to carry out a polarized training of loads, working a lot in zone 1, a relevant part in zone 3 and little in zone 2 or intermediate.

This distribution is only a reference that should be adjusted according to the season’s schedule and conditions of each athlete including more work in zone 1 in the first part of the season and more in zone 3 (and zone 2) as about the competition.

According to the rhythms proposed in the training plans, you can apply the following:

R1 = <65% of the VAM
R2 = 65% -85% of the VAM
R3 => 85% of the VAM

To calculate the speed of each percentage, use the following formula
% VAM x (VAM / 100)

Normally, experience tells us that the rhythms that are most appropriate in each section are those that are close to the highest percentage.

So following the example of our athlete, with a VAM of 15km / h, their rhythms would look like this:

R1 = <65% x (15km / h / 100) = 9.75 km / h (06:09 min / km)
R2 = 65-80% = 9.75-12.75 km / h
R3 => 80% x (15km / h / 100) = 12.75 km / h (04:42 min / km)

There is also a relationship with cardiac HR, roughly using an increase of + 5% in each of the racing rhythms, compared to 100% of our maximum cardiac HR.

Finally, to add that, in order for work rates to be valid, the test should be repeated with a certain frequency, thus updating our career rhythms, helping us to improve and even surpass our initial objective.

Also to add that all this is invalid if an orderly work program is not followed, that the rhythms do not have to be exact and that in popular athletes, and even professionals, infinity of factors influence us that have to make us treat this data with some distance and only as a reference for our daily sessions.

In relation to the duration of the effort (maximum time we could maintain a certain intensity of effort) we would have the following approximate references:

% VAM Duration (Min)
120% VAM 01:30 – 02:00 min
110% VAM 02: 00-03: 00 min
VAM 04: 00-10: 00 min
90% VAM 15: 00-40: 00 min
80% VAM 01: 00-02: 00 hours
70% VAM Hours

As a reference and in the face of a road race competition for example, a properly trained athlete could maintain the following race rhythms:

% VAM distance
10 Km 80-90% of your VAM
21 Km 75-80% of your VAM
42 Km 70-80% of your VAM
100 Km 60-65% of your VAM
24 Hours 50-60% of your VAM


Knowing the VAM is a valid and effective alternative for the training of aerobic resistance. There are many tests to determine your VAM, simply choose the one that best suits your sport and know it to get more out of your workouts.