Sedentary people when training at 75% of aerobic power or V̇O2 max pace, for 30 minutes, 3 times a week over 6 months may increase V̇O2 max an average of 15-20%. However, there are large individual variations with increases as wide ranging as 4% to 93%. Also, the increase in lactate threshold at this training range is relatively low.
To increase the lactate threshold at higher point, it is important do anaerobic training, at higher intensities than 75%, preferably in the 85% to 95% of aerobic power.
People in groups that follow the same training protocol will respond differently to the effects of training, some will make little or no gains in V̇O2 max and lactate threshold while others may make larger gains. Recent research suggests that genetics plays a role in how well any one individual responds to a training program.
The extent by which these two key parameters can change with training also depends on the starting point. The fitter an individual is to begin with, the less potential there is for an increase and most elite athletes hit their peaks early in their careers. There also seems to be a genetic upper limit beyond which, further increases in either intensity or volume have no effect on the gains.
Crucially, once a plateau in V̇O2 max has been reached further improvements in performance can still be seen with training. This is because the athlete is able to perform at a higher percentage of their V̇O2 max for prolonged periods, due to the improvements in lactate threshold and running or sports economy.
Resistance training and intense 'burst-type' anaerobic training have little effect on V̇O2 max, but may increase the lactate threshold.
Considerable training is required to reach the upper limit for V̇O2 max. However, much less is required to maintain it. In fact peak aerobic power can be maintained even when training is decreased by two thirds. Runners and swimmers have reduced training volume by 60% for a period of 15-21 days prior to competition (a technique known as tapering) with no loss in V̇O2 max.
The V̇O2 max and lactic threshold give a general idea of an athlete performance, but generally are not good predictors of performance. This is because, most sports not only rely on aerobic and anaerobic fitness, but also in strength, speed, flexibility and other aspects.
One may think of V̇O2 max as an athletes aerobic potential and the lactate threshold as the marker for how much of that potential they are tapping.
Click on the below links to find out more about V̇O2 max and Lactate Threshold.
The next section presents tables with the generally acepted aerobic fitness levels.