European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 11–12, pp 2589–2598 | Cite as

Prediction of upper extremity peak oxygen consumption from heart rate during submaximal arm cycling in young and middle-aged adults

  • Jan Helgerud
  • Britt Elin Øiestad
  • Eivind WangEmail author
  • Jan Hoff
Original Article


Based on the strong linear relationship between heart rate (HR) and oxygen consumption, the Åstrand–Ryhming cycle ergometer test (Astrand and Ryhming in J Appl Physiol 7:218–221, 1954) is a widely used submaximal test to predict whole body maximal oxygen consumption (\(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2\!\max }\)). However, a similar test predicting peak oxygen consumption (\(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{\text{peak}}}}\)) in the upper extremities is not established, and may be very useful for individuals unable to use their lower extremities or/and if separation of upper extremity aerobic capacity is sought after. Thus, the aim of the current study was to develop a submaximal test predicting \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{\text{peak}}}}\) in arm-cycling. Forty-nine healthy volunteers (25 women: 38 ± 13 years; 24 men: 39 ± 12 years) tested arm-cycle \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{\text{peak}}}}\) on a protocol with 4-min, 21-W increments to exhaustion. The data were contrasted to treadmill \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2\!\max }\) values. Arm-cycle \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{\text{peak}}}}\) was 66 ± 8% of \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2\!\max }\) (r = 0.92, p < 0.001; women: 1.9 ± 0.4 L min−1; men: 3.0 ± 0.7 L min−1). Arm-cycle HR and \(\% \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2}\) exhibited correlations of r = 0.79 and r = 0.78 for women and men, respectively, while corresponding correlations between work rate and \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2}\) were r = 0.95 (women) and r = 0.89 (men) (all p < 0.001). Arm-cycle \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{\text{peak}}}}\) prediction revealed a standard error of estimate (SEE) of 11.2% (women) and 10.2% (men), and was primarily due to individual arm-cycle maximal HR (women: 173 ± 13 beats min−1; men: 174 ± 10 beats min−1; correction factor: 5–7%). In conclusion, from a single 4-min stage of submaximal arm cycling, \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{\text{peak}}}}\) can be predicted with a SEE of 10–11%. The arm-cycle test may have important value for individuals who rely on arms in sports and occupations, and for patients with lower extremity disabilities.


\(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{2\!\max }\) Åstrand–Ryhming Submaximal test Arm cranking \(\dot{V}{\text{O}}_{{2{\text{peak}}}}\) Heart rate Work rate 


Author contributions

JH and JH conceived and designed research; BEØ and EW conducted experiments; BEØ and EW analyzed data; BEØ, EW and JH, wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Helgerud
    • 1
    • 2
  • Britt Elin Øiestad
    • 3
  • Eivind Wang
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  • Jan Hoff
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine and Health SciencesNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.MyworkoutMedical Rehabilitation ClinicTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health SciencesOsloMet-Oslo Metropolitan UniversityOsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  5. 5.Faculty of Health Sciences and Social CareMolde University CollegeMoldeNorway
  6. 6.Department of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationSt. Olavs University HospitalTrondheimNorway

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