The Efficacy of a Self-Paced VO2max Test During Motorized Treadmill Exercise

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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To assess the utility of a self-paced maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) test (SPV) in eliciting an accurate measure of VO2max in comparison with a traditional graded exercise test (GXT) during motorized treadmill exercise.


This was a cross-sectional experimental study whereby recreationally trained men (n = 13, 25.5 ± 4.6 y) completed 2 maximal exercise tests (SPV, GXT) separated by a 72-h recovery period.


The GXT was continuous and incremental, with prescribed 1-km/h increases every 2 min until the attainment of VO2max. The SPV consisted of 5 × 2-min stages of incremental exercise, which were self-selected and adjusted according to 5 prescribed RPE levels (RPE 11, 13, 15, 17, and 20).


Although no significant differences in VO2max were observed between the SPV and GXT (63.9 ± 3.3 cf 60.9 ± 4.6 mL · kg−1 · min−1, respectively, P > .05), the apparent 4.7% mean difference may be practically important. The 95% limits-of-agreement analysis was 3.03 ± 11.49 mL · kg−1 · min−1. Therefore, in the worst-case scenario, the GXT may underestimate measured VO2max as ascertained by the SPV by up to 19%. Conversely, the SPV could underestimate the GXT by 14%.


The current study has shown that the SPV is an accurate measure of VO2max during exercise on a motorized treadmill and may provide a slightly higher VO2max value than that obtained from a traditional GXT. The higher VO2max during the SPV may be important when prescribing training or monitoring athlete progression.

Faulkner and Woolley are with the School of Sport & Exercise, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. Mauger is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, Chatham, United Kingdom. Lambrick is with the Inst of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand. Address author correspondence to Alexis Mauger at