Studies of the maximum capacity of men for physical effort

Part I. A comparison of methods of assessing the maximum oxygen intake
  • C. H. Wyndham
  • N. B. Strydom
  • W. P. Leary
  • C. G. Williams


Various procedures are available for measuring an individual's maximum oxygen capacity. Most of them, however, are time-consuming, require expensive equipment and demand maximum effort from the individuals being tested. Investigations have been made, therefore, for the purpose of finding relatively less expensive procedures which would require sub-maximum effort only. Such procedures would have a wide use in the Human Adaptability Programme of the I.B.P., when the endurance capacities of different populations in various parts of the world will be compared. It will be essential, however, for these procedures to be standardised if valid comparisons are to be made.

The Human Sciences Laboratory therefore measured the maximum oxygen intakes of 40 active, young men during a bicycle ergometer test, a step test and during an intermittent and a continuous treadmill test. The results obtained during the intermittent treadmill test proved to be the most accurate. It is, however, very time-consuming. The results of the continuous treadmill test are very similar to those obtained from the intermittent treadmill test, and the time required is very much shorter. It is, however, a very strenuous test. The results of the bicycle ergometer test is similar to those of the intermittent treadmill test at low levels of effort, but is significantly lower at high levels of effort. The results of the step test compared favourably with those of the intermittent treadmill test, although at low levels of effort the step test overestimates the maximum oxygen values and at high levels of effort it underestimates the values. The step test, however, has the great advantage that only sub-maximum work loads are used. It can therefore be employed without any danger for measuring the maximum oxygen intake of large groups of people and also of people of any age group.


Maximum Capacity Work Load Maximum Oxygen Intake Maximum Effort Expensive Equipment 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. H. Wyndham
    • 1
  • N. B. Strydom
    • 1
  • W. P. Leary
    • 1
  • C. G. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Sciences Laboratory Transvaal and Orange Free State Chamber of MinesJohannesburgSouth Africa

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