Maximal oxygen uptake during field running does not exceed that measured during treadmill exercise
Modern ergometric equipment enables the simulation of laboratory maximal oxygen uptake (V˙O2max) testing in the field. Therefore, it was investigated whether the improved event specificity on the track might lead to higher V˙O2max measurements in running. Identical protocols were used on the treadmill and on the track (speed was indicated by a computer-driven flashing light system). Ambulatory measurements of gas exchange were carried out throughout both tests, which were executed in randomized order. There were no significant differences (P=0.71) in V˙O2max between treadmill [4.65 (0.51) ml·min–1] and field tests [4.63 (0.55) ml·min–1]. However, the test duration differed significantly (P<0.001) by approximately 5%: treadmill 691 (39) s; field test 727 (42) s. With the exception of maximum heart rate (HRmax; significantly higher in the field with P=0.02) all criteria for the degree of effort were similar between the two tests. However, the difference in HRmax at less than 2 beats·min–1, was practically negligible. Submaximal measurements of oxygen uptake and minute ventilation were significantly higher on the treadmill (P<0.001 for both parameters). In summary, field tests with incremental running protocols do not result in higher V˙O2max measurements compared to laboratory treadmill exercise. A better running economy on the track results in higher maximal velocities and longer exercise durations being sustained. The determination of V˙O2max is not a reasonable application for ambulatory gas exchange measurements because laboratory values are not surpassed.
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