After spending some time yesterday looking at a few of the performance assessment tests available to cyclists. It is woth keeping in mind while reading the post that most of these tests are also available to runners (with the exception of a couple).

Today I am going to break down a testing protocol used by Dr Tim Noakes and the crew at Cape Town Sport Science Institute for determining VO2max.

We will be using this test to predict VO2max and determine what your Maximum Heart Rate (HRmax) is, to be used to set up your training zones for Heart Rate monitored training.

This is a little more accurate than the old 220-age equation to determine your HRmax, but not the most accurate method either. Remember, this is a Field Test.

It is also important to keep the following in mind:
  1. You must be medically fit to complete this test as it is a test to maximal exhaustion.
  2. You must be experienced in running on a treadmill t high speeds.
You will require the following equipment:
  • Treadmill
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Someone to help you record the relevant information.
The week leading up to taking this test, measure you Hear Rate at rest (HRrest) upon waking for days in a row, and then get the average of the three.

This will be your HRrest value.

Warm up:
  • 10-15 minutes at speeds of between (walking) at 3 mph and (running) at 7mph.
  • Keep the gradient at 0% for the entire test.
  • Allow 5 minutes for a Dynamic Warm up before commencing with the test.
The Test:
  • Start at a speed of 7.5mph - run for 1 minute
  • Increase speed by 0.3mph - run for 30 seconds
  • Continue to increase speed bu 0.3mph every 30 seconds till exhaustion
  • Record Heart Rate values at the end of every stage.
  • Keeping running until you are unable to keep up with the speed of the treadmill.
Heart Rate Recovery:
  • Sit down and record you your drop in Heart rate after 30 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes and 5 minutes.
  • This is not a true reflection of what is going on inside your body (Physiologically), because your Lactic Acid levels will still be elevated.
Active recovery:
  • spend a few minutes walking on the treadmill to help remove Lactic Acid and aid the body with recovery.
What can we calculate from the acquired data:

1: Predicted VO2max: You can use this simple equation to predict your VO2max:

Treadmill VO2 (ml/kg/min) - 2.209 +{3.163 X v)

v - Velocity - fastest speed achieved on the treadmill in Km/h (not mph) (multiply your score by 1.6 to convert miles per hour to kilometers per hour)
2: Heart rate training zones:

Making use of your Tested HRmax, your HRrest and the Karvonen formula, we are able to set up you Heart Rate zones.

Here is the equation you will need:

HRmax-HRrest (% intensity (50%, 60% etc) + HRrest.

Here is a brief example: If you HRmax=198b/min, your HRrest=55b/min, then

198-55(0.60%)+55 = 141b/min

Just change the % Intensity each time, and this will give all the Training intensities you will need for application in your training program.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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