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Testing HRmax & VO2max with .... max treadmill test!

Got a race coming up and want to train smarter, not harder? Want to take your training to a new level, not just increasing mileage? Want to allow proper recovery from intervals and lifting without impacting the healing process but aiding it? Want to confirm your intervals are hard enough to be useful?

Perhaps you have been doing cardio for long enough you need a more serious test than this. 

And you want best stats for your better HRM that actually allows you to see and change them. 

So most of the good HRM's will allow you to put in your own HRmax, which is then used to figure out some zones for you, and possibly more important to eating enough to fuel a strong workout, to calculate calorie burn as decently as possible. 
Even if the HRM doesn't allow changing the HRmax manually, you can lie about your age to get it to change. And HRmax effects calorie calculation more than age. 
If nicer HRM, should even have stat for VO2max. Even the Polar's that estimate that figure from resting HR test, can be confirmed or improved upon by a real max test. 

So this is a standard maximal effort puke test (maybe puke, I don't). You should check with a Dr if you have any concerns. If you have been running for a year and can get up to max effort within 10-20 minutes or sprint up hills, this test is likely for you. If not, use the link above, or these links for sub-maximal tests.


This is a test that some gym treadmill's can handle. Some of them don't go high enough in % grade to handle it, but most can get up to 14%, which will be fine if your VO2max is up to 30 males and 35 female. If up to 20%, then fine up to VO2max 66 & 74. Or if not, you can increase pace to at least discover the HRmax stat.

So below is the site for the Bruce treadmill test, which is great for adjusting your training zones better. Because you can effect your VO2 max to some degree though genetics plays strong role, once you are a tad fit, you can't adjust your genetically set MHR, though you can keep it from lowering with age nearly as much.

For study stats or accuracy potential, see the Bruce tests here. There is a link after test info for getting your results. 

So you need a treadmill that will go up at least by 2% grade increments (NOT degrees, like 45, but % grade). Speed that can be set to 0.1 mph increments. 
An assistant will be needed that can adjust the speed & grade for you fast when needed, run a stop watch, and offer encouragement (or find a treadmill where you can enter in your own interval workout. A certain StarTrac model will do this). 
And of course a HRM, hopefully one that logs maxHR seen during a workout. 
Suggest testing the treadmill to confirm max grade, and which changes faster, grade or speed, since both need to increase pretty fast. Many won't do both at same time, so do quicker one first, which is usually incline since just 2%.

Then you do the following after a rest day when totally rested. If you don't do running, this will be limited usefulness. If you are not use to the inclines, perhaps spend some weeks walking/jogging them so it doesn't totally freak you out doing this the first time.

This test requires the person to run up to 21 minutes on a treadmill whose speed and slope increases at timed intervals. (21! should be simple, right?!)

The person warms up for 10 minutes walking level 3 mph. 
Then with person standing off treadmill, setup as follows. 
The grade of the treadmill is set to 10% and speed at 1.7 mph (2.7 kmph). 
The assistant gives the command “GO”, starts the stopwatch and the athlete steps on and commences the test. 
The assistant adjusts the treadmill grade and speed at the end of 3 min intervals as follows (total potential time 21 min): 
Speed mph- 2.5, 3.4, 4.2, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0 (kmph 4.0, 5.5, 6.8, 8.0, 8.9, 9.7) 
Grade % - 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22. 
The assistant stops the stopwatch when the athlete is unable to continue and records the time to the second. HRM should have the HRmax as a stat if a decent one, if not then look fast at what it is. 
Cool down walk for 10 min, stretch as needed, that incline is killer. 

So the table, if this formats right, would look like this. 

At Min___Speed mph___Grade_____Speed kmph 








21________nothing - congrats 

If the treadmill maxed out on grade before you maxed out your HR, you can still get your HRmax by increasing speed to next level, but the VO2max can't be calculated then.

Take your time to this link to get your results. You just did the Bruce treadmill test. 

Make a record of the date, weight, time to failure, and VO2max, and HRmax. You'll want to compare down the road.
Input your new info into your HRM. 

Even if your fitness level as measured by VO2 doesn't increase with training, as your weight lowers it actually goes up, because that figure is mL / kg / min. 

So as you put new stats in your HRM like new lower weight, you'll need to increase the VO2max stat, or do another test, which is only useful every 6 months. But you can lose a decent amount of weight in that time.

To normalize VO2max mL/kg/min to a non-weight based VO2 L/min, do the following and record with your results: 

VO2max you got as result x weight in lb's x 0.0004536 = VO2 L/min. 

When you lose weight, merely take that VO2 L/min / 0.0004536 / current weight in lb's = new VO2max mL/kg/min to put in HRM. 

VO2max you got as result x weight in kg's / 1000 = VO2 L/min. 

When you lose weight, merely take VO2 L/min x 1000 / current weight in kg's = new VO2 max to put in HRM. 

If you have the spreadsheet, you can also do this on the HRM tab, top right side. Tested VO2max and weight, current weight in HRM stats section, and new VO2max figure is shown. Now, what if you are doing cardio endurance, or want to maximize intervals, then you'll want to train to HR zones, and while having a tested HRmax is good, it's better to use the Heart Rate Reserve Zone method, which uses resting HR along with it.

This can help in doing Active Recovery HR zone for any cardio using the same muscles as what you lifted with day before, get blood flow but add no additional load, sadly called Fat-burning zone in table above. Proper HIIT would be in Max zone for 15-45 seconds, and recover in fat-burning zone for 3 x as long 45-135 seconds. Other intervals could be in Anaerobic zone for 1 min, with recovery in lower Aerobic for 1 min.

Next step to improvement would be figuring out your Lactate Threshold by field test and training to HR zones based on that best method. That's the next blog. Then after that, perhaps combining the 2 for your own personalized formula for better calorie burn estimate, needing just avgHR and time of a workout.


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