Conventional Testing Produces Submaximal Values for Oxygen Uptake in Elite Runners

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: This study aimecd to investigate whether elite athletes could reach higher values of maximal oxygen uptake (V˙O2max) during a decremental exercise test in comparison with a traditional incremental test, as recently demonstrated in trained individuals. Methods: Nine male runners (age 25.8 [5.1] y, season best 10-km time 31:19 [1:50]) performed, on different days, 3 maximal uphill (5% grade) running exercise tests in fixed order: an incremental test (INC1), a V-shape exercise test (where speed started at 0.5 km·h−1 higher than the top stage finished during INC1 and was slowly decreased during 5.5 min, when it was again increased in similar fashion to the INC tests), and a final incremental test (INC2). Results: V˙O2max during the V-shape exercise test was higher than during INC1 (6.3% [3.0%], P = .01), although running speed was lower (16.6 [1.7] vs 17.9 [1.6] km·h−1, P = .01). Performance was similar between INC1 and INC2, but V˙O2max during INC2 was higher than INC1 (P < .001). During the V-shape exercise test, 5 participants reached the incremental part of the test, but V˙O2 did not increase (ΔV˙O2=52 [259]mL·min1, P = .67), despite higher running speed (approximately 1.1 km·h−1, P < .01). Heart rate, pulmonary ventilation, breathing rate, and respiratory exchange ratio measured at V˙O2max were not different between tests. Conclusion: A decremental exercise test of sufficient intensity can produce higher V˙O2max than a traditional incremental test, even in elite athletes, and this is maintained during a subsequent incremental test.

Beltrami is with the Exercise Physiology Lab, Inst of Human Movement Sciences and Sport, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Noakes is with the Centre for Communication Studies, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town, South Africa. Beltrami and Noakes were formerly with the Exercise Sciences and Sports medicine Unit, Dept of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, Cape town, South Africa.

Beltrami (fernando.beltrami@hest.ethz.ch) is corresponding author.
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