Fit to Serve is proudly sponsored by The Transcend Foundation.

A person’s VO₂ max is the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can take in during intense exercise. It is a very important tool for athletes that track their fitness progress. Do you know what your VO₂ max is? There is a formula that can be used to help you determine it, and Dr. Anthony Acevedo considers it a vital tool to help you improve performance and overall fitness (1). The scientist, nutritionist, and adjunct college professor offered to share it as a tool to help athletes and potential service members prepare to take their potential to the next level.

Dr. Anthony Acevedo

“The calculation to convert the time it takes to complete a 1.5-mile run into an estimated VO₂ max (in mL/kg/min) is typically done using a specific formula,” Acevedo explained. He shared a simple way to apply it.

• Record: Keep track of the time it takes to run 1.5 miles in minutes and seconds.
• Convert Time to Decimal Form: Convert the time into minutes in decimal form. For example, if the run time is 12 minutes and 30 seconds, convert this to 12.5 minutes.
• Apply the Formula VO2 max=3.5+Time (in minutes)483 : Plug the time in minutes into the formula to estimate VO₂ max. Based on the 12.5-minute example, the formula would be VO2 max=3.5+12.5483 VO2 max=3.5+38.64 VO2 max=42.14 mL/kg/min.

“The higher the VO₂ max, the better,” Acevedo explained. This is just one sign of the passion for fitness and learning how to maximize performance that he has, which has taken him places and led him to doing meaningful work that he would’ve never thought possible as a kid.

Anthony Acevedo grew up in Brooklyn, NY, and he acknowledged that he didn’t have the easiest childhood. He and his older sister were surrounded by drugs and violence. His parents were not involved with him early on because they were in and out of the legal system. He was moving around frequently, staying with other family members.

“I had a rough upbringing in the 80’s and 90’s.”

He was also bullied as a self-described “obese kid.” He shared that his mother eventually found a positive path forward and re-married.

“My stepdad came into the picture, and I have so much respect for that guy to take on a dysfunctional woman and two extremely rambunctious kids.”

Many kids would be doomed to be stuck in their own legal issues and personal battles because of such a troubling start, but Acevedo was not one those kids. He took up boxing and wrestling as he got older. He also played football.

“Getting involved with fitness really changed my mental capacity. I use it for an outlet and as a release.”

He enjoyed being physical and getting in better shape but felt his destiny was going to be in something else, and that turned out to be the military.

“The military literally saved me,” he said. “That was a big part for me.”

His grandfather, Paul Lasin, served during World War II. Acevedo has Lasin’s flag, and he calls it the greatest gift that he ever received. His own ties to the military were created as a junior in high school. Acevedo saw a sign of a rescue swimmer jumping out of a helicopter in a cafeteria, and he was intrigued. He went home that evening and spoke to his stepfather, who was in favor of the move.

“I chose the right direction and went into the Coast Guard. I went to basic training one week after I graduated high school and never looked back.”

As an E2, Acevedo was in a supportive role, but one of his strengths was his ability to keep energy high and put other Coast Guardsmen through workouts. He took this up on his own but found it to be a positive difference maker for himself and others.

“It was a really good community to be a part of.”

He didn’t get to become a rescue swimmer, but he did advance up to an E5 by the age of 19. He found his ability to train and help others through fitness impacted every group he was a part of throughout his career in service.

After four years, he felt it was time to go in another direction. He became a personal trainer for a gym in Annapolis, MD but remained connected to service because many of his clients were from the Navy.

“That was something I felt compelled to take on myself.”

Anthony Acevedo went on to relocate to San Diego, CA and work as a Fitness Director for a gym there. Aside from general population training, he specialized in helping those prepare for the military. Years later, he returned to Annapolis and opened his own gym.

“Wherever I went, I found some way to stay within the fitness realm.”

Along the way, he was also pursuing higher education, getting his Masters degree in nutrition and a Ph.D. in Human Performance. Eventually, his other major connection would come calling again. Acevedo would take a supportive role with the Air Force and the CRAFT program, where he served as the data scientist/exercise physiologist for the human performance team. He has been very active with the science side of human performance and science. Part of that science includes research comparing ROTC cadets to an infantry unit. (2)

In August 2024, he was transitioning to take a position with the United States Army, working with the H2F program (Health and Holistic Fitness).

“I get to enhance the science of what I have been doing,” he shared.

Acevedo’s presence and efforts have been beneficial for many current members of the Armed Forces, and he hopes to do the same for future heroes that wear the nation’s cloth. He advises those considering service that fitness must be a high priority and that commitment to service should be one that is lifelong in some form.

“My term in the Coast Guard was only four years, but it has never ended in the sense of always trying to help in some capacity.”

How to Improve Your VO2 Max

Increase your VO2 max to recover faster and hit the iron harder.

Anthony Acevedo’s Tips to Increase VO₂ Max

“Consistency training and progressively increasing intensity are key aspects to improving VO₂ max,” Acevedo said. He shared four tips to help you improve yours.

Perform High Intensity Interval Training

An example is 30 seconds all out sprint, then a walk or light job for 1 – 2 minutes. Repeat cycle for 20 minutes.

Run Pace/Tempo Training

Run at a pace slightly faster than a normal training pace for 20 minutes.

Train for Distance

This can be running, cycling, or swimming at a moderate pace for 45 minutes.

Recover

Ensure adequate rest is allowed for the body to adapt and improve.