The High Performance Journal

My Plan To Increase My V02 Max In 2024 (STEAL THIS)

high performance journal Dec 12, 2023

The High Performance Journal - December 12th, 2023

The life expectancy of the average American is 77.28 years. I am 44 years old.

While I don't compare myself to the average person I realize that I'm at an age where health becomes more of a serious issue.

I don't care to buy expensive cars or do things to boost my status. What I am focused on is living a long quality life where I'd be able to play with my grandkids.

One of the ways to make that happen is through my lungs.

Between the ages of 30-50, we lose up to 15% of our lung capacity, and by age 80, we lose up to 30%.

The biggest correlation between those who die an early death and those who live the longest is the level of their V02 max​.

Your total lung capacity is the volume of air you can hold at any given moment. Your V02 max is the measure of how much oxygen you use when you perform strenuous tasks.

If you want to live longer you want a healthy set of lungs and to do that you want to build a healthy V02 max.

So in today's article, I want to share with you my plan to make that happen next year.

My Plan To Increase V02 Max In 2024

There are 2 ways to increase your V02 max:

The first is Zone 2 cardio. This is a form of cardio where you're going just above the intensity of being able to have a conversation.

The main benefit of zone 2 cardio is the impact on your mitochondria as you age your mitochondria ages as well. Zone 2 cardio helps you shed damaged mitochondria and produce more of them in your body.

I've found an easy way to incorporate this type of cardio into my life, which I'll share with you shortly.

The second is Max Heart Rate Cardio.
This is an activity that pushes your heart rate to the upper limits.

The main benefit of max heart rate cardio is that it acts as heavy lifting for your lungs and is correlated with having the best effect on increasing your V02 max​.

I've got a specific way in which I'm doing this type of cardio, which I'll be sharing with you as well.

Zone 2 Cardio

The main idea of zone 2 cardio is that it is slow and you should feel like you can do it for almost forever.

It's taken from the five-zone system of heart rate training and is otherwise known as low-intensity training.

Zone 2 cardio is relatively slow and it's done at a steady pace. Technically, you're aiming for a heart rate of 70% of your max while exercising.

To keep it simple think of this as the type of exercise you can do while barely maintaining a conversation.

It should still feel like work but it should be easy enough that you feel like you can go on forever.

It's recommended a minimum of 120 minutes, ideally 180 minutes, every week in Zone 2.

My Strategy For Zone 2 Cardio Is Simple:

Every day I spent at least 4-6 hours at my desk doing work. I set up a neat little treadmill underneath that I'll be using for at least one hour each day 5 days a week.

When the weather is warmer I'll take my walks outside and go hiking by the trail by my house.

Also, if I do something recreational like watching a show I'll hop on my treadmill and watch it while I'm walking.

The biggest misconception people have about Zone 2 cardio is that it should be done while jogging.

While this may be the case for elite athletes, most people can achieve it by walking at a brisk pace.

Max Heart Rate Cardio

The idea behind max heart rate cardio is that it should feel like you're pushing your cardiovascular system to the upper limits of what you think is possible.

There are many ways to perform max heart rate cardio but I'll be doing HIIT training.

HIIT is short for High Intensity Interval Training. This type of training alternates between several minutes of high-intensity followed by low-intensity movements.

Recommendations vary around this type of training but anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes of HIIT training a week is recommended.

My Strategy For Max Heart Rate Cardio Is The 4x4 Interval Training Method:

The 4x4 method of interval training is doing 4 minutes of low-intensity cardio followed by 4 minutes of high-intensity cardio done for 8 rounds.

To get an idea of what this looks like picture me on a treadmill:

After a brief ​6 minute superhuman warm up​ I get on the treadmill and do 4 minutes of walking. At the end of those 4 minutes, I go at an all-out pace for another 4 minutes. That is one round.

I do 4 total rounds for a total time of 32 minutes. I do this once a week.

Since I'm not used to this type of training I will start slow on my high-intensity interval sprints.

Each week I will aim to progressively overload myself by either increasing my speed or my incline.

I'll keep doing this until I find out what my upper limit is.

HIIT is one of the hardest ways to train your cardiovascular system. It's not supposed to be easy and it's meant to strengthen your heart and lungs.

I'm going to do this once a week in addition to my weight training and zone 2 training.

Quick Notes on Zone 2 and Max Heart Rate Cardio

  • As I do these I'm trying to regulate my breath through my nose as it's the ideal way to oxygenate my body. I'll breathe through my mouth when needed.
  • Start slow when attempting these. You want to be able to work your intensity much like you would adding weights at the gym: cautiously.
  • I don't need to warm up before zone 2 but before my max heart rate sessions ​a proper warm-up​ is mandatory.

How I'm Measuring My V02 Max

Lastly, I need a way to measure my progress.

The best way to measure your V02 max is in a lab where they hook you up to a mask and heart rate monitor while running on a treadmill or riding a bike.

The mask measures the volume of oxygen you inhale and the amount of air you exhale.

Unfortunately, I do not live in a city where this is available. So I will measure my V02 max through a Cooper Test:

The Cooper Test requires the person being tested to run or walk as far as possible in 12 minutes.

The objective of the test is to measure the maximum distance covered by the individual during the 12 minutes.

For brevity's sake, I won't be going into the details of the Cooper Test but you can read about it ​here​.

The Key Is Consistency

The reason I chose these strategies for increasing my V02 max is because they are what I can do consistently.

Yes, I can get more optimal with how I train but I'm more focused on doing activities I know I can perform regularly with little effect on my schedule.

One thing I need to mention is that doing these types of activities gives you massive benefits beyond living longer.

Better lungs mean better performance. Also, I've been doing zone 2 and HIIT for the past 2 weeks and have noticed a massive difference in my mood and my energy levels.

I'm not just doing this because I want to live to 100. I want those years to have as much quality in them as possible.

If that's something you want in your life then I recommend giving it a try.

Onwards and upwards 🚀

- Dan


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