Estimating Max Aerobic Velocity & VO2max in 5-Minutes.

Original Research: Berthon, P., Fellmann, N., Bedu, M., Beaune, B., Dabonneville, M., Coudert, J., & Chamoux, A. (1997). A 5-min running field test as a measurement of maximal aerobic velocity. European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology75(3), 233-238.

Premise: Knowledge of maximal aerobic velocity (MAV) and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) is useful for athlete training prescription (e.g., interval intensities based on pace) and estimating aerobic capacity respectively1. Barriers to obtaining laboratory-based estimates of these values include: time, cost, technical knowledge, and facility access. To address this, French researchers evaluated the validity of a 5-minute field test for estimating these values in comparison to traditional laboratory treadmill-based measurements.

Participants & Procedures: 48 men (age: 27.9 ± 6.9 years, VO2max: 55.6 ± 8.2 ml/kg/min, MAV: 16.9 ± 2.5 km/h) completed one laboratory assessment and two field tests (5-min and U. Montreal Track Test2) in randomized order over two weeks. The 5-minute test was based on previous findings that the duration of running performance over which 100% of MAV is maintained ranges from 4.6 – 7 minutes. The 5-minute test was administered as follows, with calculations for estimating outcome variables of interest:

  1. 5-10 minute warm-up at 70% maximum heart rate.
  2. Constant paced 5-minute run for maximum distance on a track.
  3. MAV = Distance Run (km) x 12 (5min x 12 = Theoretical 60-min distance).
  4. VO2max = (3.23 x MAV) + 0.123

Results: MAV and VO2max was found to be significantly overestimated by 1.8% (0.3 km/h) and 5.0% (2.8 ml/kg/min) respectively by the 5-min track test compared to the laboratory-based assessment. However, the values obtained from the 5-min track test were significantly correlated with those resulting from the lab test for MAV (r = 0.94, p < 0.001), and for VO2max (r = 0.90, p < 0.001).

Practical Significance (+): If you can accept the error of these estimates (MAV: 1.8%, VO2max: 5.0%), or are only interested in evaluating change over time, this appears to be a very practical field test, with minimal barriers to implementation.

Practical Significance (-): It should be acknowledged that this validation was performed on a limited number of subjects (48), and none of them were women. Additionally, for individuals who are unaccustomed to track running or who do not have experience with pacing their efforts, it may be best practice to use several familiarization sessions to establish appropriate pacing (i.e., constant running speed) strategies and within- and between-subject reliability.

Additional References:

1Buchheit, M., & Laursen, P. B. (2013). High-intensity interval training, solutions to the programming puzzle: Part I: cardiopulmonary emphasis. Sports medicine (Auckland, NZ)43(5), 313-338.

2Leger, L., & Boucher, R. (1980). An indirect continuous running multistage field test: the Universite de Montreal track test. Can. J. Appl. Sport. Sci5, 77-84.

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