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Evaluation of the American College of Sports Medicine Submaximal Treadmill Running Test for Predicting Vo2max

Marsh, Clare E

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2012 - Volume 26 - Issue 2 - pp 548-554
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318220d9a8
Original Research

Marsh, CE. Evaluation of the ACSM submaximal treadmill running test for predicting V̇o2max. J Strength Cond Res 26(2): 548–554, 2012—The purpose of this study was to assess the validity of the American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM's) submaximal treadmill running test in predicting V̇o2max. Twenty-one moderately well-trained men aged 18–34 years performed 1 maximal treadmill test to determine maximal oxygen uptake (M V̇o2max) and 2 submaximal treadmill tests using 4 stages of continuous submaximal exercise. Estimated V̇o2max was predicted by extrapolation to age-predicted maximal heart rate (HRmax) and calculated in 2 ways: using data from all submaximal stages between 110 b·min−1 and 85% HRmax (P V̇o2max-All), and using data from the last 2 stages only (P V̇o2max-2). The measured V̇o2max was overestimated by 3% on average for the group but was not significantly different to predicted V̇o2max (1-way analysis of variance [ANOVA] p = 0.695; M V̇o2max = 53.01 ± 5.38; P V̇o2max-All = 54.27 ± 7.16; P V̇o2max-2 = 54.99 ± 7.69 ml·kg−1·min−1), although M V̇o2max was not overestimated in all the participants—it was underestimated in 30% of observations. Pearson's correlation, standard error of estimate (SEE), and total error (E) between measured and predicted V̇o2max were r = 0.646, 4.35, 4.08 ml·kg−1·min−1 (P V̇o2max-All) and r = 0.642, 4.21, 3.98 ml·kg−1·min−1 (P V̇o2max-2) indicating that the accuracy in prediction (error) was very similar whether using P V̇o2max-All or P V̇o2max-2, with up to 70% of the participants predicted scores within 1 SEE (∼4 ml·kg−1·min−1) of M V̇o2max. In conclusion, the ACSM equation provides a reasonably good estimation of V̇o2max with no difference in predictive accuracy between P V̇o2max-2 and P V̇o2max-All, and hence, either approach may be equally useful in tracking an individual's aerobic fitness over time. However, if a precise knowledge of V̇o2max is required, then it is recommended that this be measured directly.

School of Health Sport and Rehabilitation Sciences, Directorate of Sport, Exercise and Physiotherapy, University of Salford, Salford, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Clare Marsh,

© 2012 National Strength and Conditioning Association