Calculer sa VMA



MAS or Maximum Aerobic Speed is a frequently used parameter in running. Philippe Propage, international coach, deciphers this concept for you and explains how to use it during your training sessions in order to get the maximum benefit.

What is the MAS?

Physiologically speaking, MAS is the speed at which your oxygen consumption is at its maximum during an effort. In practical terms, it corresponds to a very intense running speed that we can hold from 3 to 6-7 minutes depending on each person’s fitness level.

There are several methods to determine your MAS:

- In the laboratory, during an effort test (e.g.; when establishing your medical certificate to participate in races). It is important to do this test regularly once past 50 years of age in order to eliminate any risk of compromising your health. A race could counter the benefits one can get from running.

- With a sports club, if you are a member. Many clubs organise health days during which the general public are offered various tests to determine this MAS.

- Individually, with a test that is rather easy to do (half-Cooper test): The goal is to cover the greatest distance in 6 minutes. This already requires certain knowledge of one’s capacities in order for the result obtained to be reliable. Indeed, at the beginning of the test one has to be able to estimate the maximum speed that one will be able to maintain during 6 minutes. To interpret the result obtained by this test you should measure the distance covered in 6 minutes (ideally you should do it on a running track) and divide it by 100.

Examples :

Distance covered in 6 minutes 1300m 1400m 1560m 1720m 1940m
MAS In km/h 13km/h 14km/h1 15,6km/h 17,2km/h 19,4km/h

Ideally, this test should be done twice a year. Irrespective of the type of test you do, in order to establish comparisons, you have to reassess yourself with the same method because there could be small variations between the different tests. You can use this test to know your HRmax because it will be achieved after 6 minutes. The heart rate is also a control tool during the different running speeds (see the HR advice).


How do you improve your MAS?

To improve your MAS, you should practice 2 sessions of interval training per week (see annual planning advice) where you run between 100 and 105% of your MAS over distances of 200m to 400m and between 90 and 95% of your MAS over distances of 500m to 1000m.
Leading up to a race, you content yourself with 1 session every 10 days (booster) to maintain your MAS at the level you have already attained. You then work on developing the percentage used of this MAS over a given time or distance in order to attain the fastest race speeds possible.

Example of types of MAS sessions :

example of mas sessions 10 to 20x200m 10 to 15x300m 10 to 15x400m 8 to 10x500m 5 to 7x800m 4 to 6x1000m
% of mas to use 105% From 100 to 105% From 95 to 100% At 95% From 90 to 95% At 90%


What percentage of MAS can one maintain in a race?

It is estimated that one can maintain about 80% of his MAS in a marathon, about 85% in a semi-marathon and about 90% over 10km. The higher your level is, the higher your percentage of use of this MAS will be.
For your endurance outings (jogging), you will be at speeds of around 65-70% of your MAS.

Be careful not to mix up MAS percentages and HRmax percentages. The HRmax percentage is considered to be approximately 5% greater than your MAS percentage. For example, 85% of MAS corresponds to 90% of HRmax.
On the other hand, at 100% of MAS we are at values close to 100% of HRmax.

Now you know everything about MAS: how to determine it and how to use it during your training sessions. But never forget that it is only one of the components of performance and if it is important, it is far from being the only important one.
Moreover, the more you run long races the less the MAS will influence the final result of your race.


So slip on your running gear, your pair of running shoes and go run on the road, a path or the grass while never forgetting that the best way to progress is to enjoy your sporting activity!