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James Faulkner, Alexis R. Mauger, Brandon Woolley and Danielle Lambrick

Purpose:

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.

Design:

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.

Methods:

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).

Results:

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%.

Conclusions:

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.