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How to measure your MAS (Maximal Aerobic Speed)

Maximal Aerobic Speed (MAS) is the speed at which we run when our oxygen consumption (VO2) hits its maximal value (VO2max) during a progressive maximal test. It is a useful index of aerobic capacity, on which to rely to set optimized running training sessions.

To accurately measure MAS, a lab-evaluation test is required, where VO2 is continuously measured and O2 composition of the exhaled air analyzed.

However, it is possible to obtain an valid MAS estimation without a complex lab test, using a test that requires little equipment.

Our 2-minute stage protocol

The MAS evaluation test that we propose is a simplified version (Péronnet and Thibault, 1991) of the Léger-Boucher test (Léger and Boucher, 1980). This indirect, progressive and maximal field test has several advantages : it is simple, inexpensive and just as relevant as the direct measurement of VO2max in the laboratory.

The test requires :

  • an oval running track of at least 200 meters, where markers are placed at every 50 meters (mini traffic cones will do the job)
  • the MAS field timer included in our phone app : 3-2-1 Go !

Instructions :

  • Begin the test beside any of the markers,
  • Run at the displayed speed (km/h), which corresponds to the stage level (starting at 7 km/h).
  • Adjust your speed to pass markers at the sound of the bell,
  • Stop the test as soon as you cannot reach a marker at the sound of the bell.

At the beginning, the test is relatively easy (speed of 7 km/h). Running speed then increases by 1 km/h at every (approximately) 2-minute stage.

MAS evaluation test table

Stage number
–running speed–

VO2max (ml/kg/min) Time interval between ‘’beeps’’/ markers
(s/50 m)
Number of ‘’beeps’’ per stage

Total time

7 24.5 25.71 5 2:09
8 28.0 22.50 5 4:02
9 31.5 20.00 6 6:02
10 35.0 18.00 7 8:08
11 38.5 16.36 7 10:03
12 42.0 15.00 8 12:03
13 45.5 13.85 9 14:08
14 49.0 12.86 9 16:04
15 52.5 12.00 10 18:04
16 56.0 11.25 11 20:08
17 59.5 10.59 11 22:04
18 63.0 10.00 12 24:04
19 66.5 9.47 13 26:07
20 70.0 9.00 13 28:04
21 73.5 8.57 14 30:04
22 77.0 8.18 15 32:07
23 80.5 7.83 15 34:04

The test can be performed by many runners at once. For example, on an 400-meter oval running track with 8 markers, 48 runners can easily take the test : the test begins with 6 runners at each marker.

An alternate 7-minute test

It is also possible to get a decent MAS estimation with a 7-minute maximal test : a very motivated runner can usually maintain a running intensity that corresponds to his VO2max for 7 minutes.

To measure MAS we take the maximum distance ran in 7 minutes and use it in this formula :

VAM (km/h) = D (km) ÷ 7 x 60

For instance, if one runs 2000 meters on a 7-minute maximal test, his MAS is 17.14 km/h.


What about the VO2max ?

With the MAS value it is possible to obtain a VO2max estimation, by multiplying MAS (km/h) by 3.5 :

VO2max (mL/kg/min) = VAM x 3.5

For instance, a runner showing a MAS of 17.14 km/h has a VO2max of 60.0 mL/kg/min.


An indirect continuous running multistage field test : The Université de Montréal track test (1980)

Le marathon : équilibre énergétique, alimentation et entraînement du coureur sur route (1991) Péronnet F et G Thibault. Décarie et Vigot, 438 pages.

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Xavier Bonacorsi

Photographe, kinésiologue, constructeur et disciple de la maxime : « la vie se passe dehors »; Xavier écrit pour divers magazines de photographie, d'entraînement, de santé et de plein-air. Vous pouvez suivre ses aventures : @xavierbonacorsi

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