Purpose: This study investigated maximal cardiometabolic response while running in a lower body positive pressure treadmill (antigravity treadmill (AG)), which reduces body weight (BW) and impact. The AG is used in rehabilitation of injuries but could have potential for high-speed running, if workload is maximally elevated.
Methods: Fourteen trained (nine male) runners (age 27 ± 5 yr; 10-km personal best, 38.1 ± 1.1 min) completed a treadmill incremental test (CON) to measure aerobic capacity and heart rate (V˙O2max and HRmax). They completed four identical tests (48 h apart, randomized order) on the AG at BW of 100%, 95%, 90%, and 85% (AG100 to AG85). Stride length and rate were measured at peak velocities (Vpeak).
Results: V˙O2max (mL·kg−1·min−1) was similar across all conditions (men: CON = 66.6 (3.0), AG100 = 65.6 (3.8), AG95 = 65.0 (5.4), AG90 = 65.6 (4.5), and AG85 = 65.0 (4.8); women: CON = 63.0 (4.6), AG100 = 61.4 (4.3), AG95 = 60.7 (4.8), AG90 = 61.4 (3.3), and AG85 = 62.8 (3.9)). Similar results were found for HRmax, except for AG85 in men and AG100 and AG90 in women, which were lower than CON. Vpeak (km·h−1) in men was 19.7 (0.9) in CON, which was lower than every other condition: AG100 = 21.0 (1.9) (P < 0.05), AG95 = 21.4 (1.8) (P < 0.01), AG90 = 22.3 (2.1) (P < 0.01), and AG85 = 22.6 (1.6) (P < 0.001). In women, Vpeak (km·h−1) was similar between CON (17.8 (1.1) ) and AG100 (19.3 (1.0)) but higher at AG95 = 19.5 (0.4) (P < 0.05), AG90 = 19.5 (0.8) (P < 0.05), and AG85 = 21.2 (0.9) (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: The AG can be used at maximal exercise intensities at BW of 85% to 95%, reaching faster running speeds than normally feasible. The AG could be used for overspeed running programs at the highest metabolic response levels.
1Sports Medicine Unit, University Hospital Center and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, SWITZERLAND; and 2Sports Medicine Center and Boswell Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.
Address for correspondence: Boris Gojanovic, M.D., Swiss Olympic Sports Medicine Center, Lausanne University Hospital, Pierre Decker 4, Lausanne 1011 CHUV, Switzerland; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted for publication November 2011.
Accepted for publication April 2012.