Purpose: We tested the hypothesis that a 3-min all-out cycling test would provide a measure of peak oxygen uptake (V·O2peak) and estimate the maximal steady-state power output.
Methods: Eleven habitually active subjects performed a ramp test, three 3-min all-out tests against a fixed resistance, and two further submaximal tests lasting up to 30 min, 15 W below or above the power output attained in the last 30 s of the 3-min test (the end-test power).
Results: The V·O2peak measured during the 3-min all-out test (mean ± SD: 3.78 ± 0.68 L·min−1) was not different from that of the ramp test (3.84 ± 0.79 L·min−1; P = 0.75). The end-test power (257 ± 49 W) was significantly lower than that at the end of the ramp test (368 ± 73 W) and significantly higher than the power at the gas exchange threshold (169 ± 55 W; P < 0.001). Nine subjects were able to complete 30 min of exercise at 15 W below the end-test power, and seven of these did so with a steady-state blood [lactate] and V˙O2 response profile. In contrast, when subjects exercised at 15 W above the end-test power, blood [lactate] and V·O2 rose inexorably until exhaustion, which occurred in approximately 13 ± 7 min.
Conclusions: These data suggest that a 3-min all-out exercise test can be used to establish V·O2peak and to estimate the maximal steady state.