Sports Medicine

, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 575–586 | Cite as

Incremental Exercise Test Design and Analysis

Implications for Performance Diagnostics in Endurance Athletes
  • David J. BentleyEmail author
  • John Newell
  • David Bishop
Leading Article


Physiological variables, such as maximum work rate or maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max), together with other submaximal metabolic inflection points (e.g. the lactate threshold [LT], the onset of blood lactate accumulation and the pulmonary ventilation threshold [VT]), are regularly quantified by sports scientists during an incremental exercise test to exhaustion. These variables have been shown to correlate with endurance performance, have been used to prescribe exercise training loads and are useful to monitor adaptation to training. However, an incremental exercise test can be modified in terms of starting and subsequent work rates, increments and duration of each stage. At the same time, the analysis of the blood lactate/ventilatory response to incremental exercise may vary due to the medium of blood analysed and the treatment (or mathematical modelling) of data following the test to model the metabolic inflection points. Modification of the stage duration during an incremental exercise test may influence the submaximal and maximal physiological variables. In particular, the peak power output is reduced in incremental exercise tests that have stages of longer duration. Furthermore, the VT or LT may also occur at higher absolute exercise work rate in incremental tests comprising shorter stages. These effects may influence the relationship of the variables to endurance performance or potentially influence the sensitivity of these results to endurance training. A difference in maximum work rate with modification of incremental exercise test design may change the validity of using these results for predicting performance, and prescribing or monitoring training. Sports scientists and coaches should consider these factors when conducting incremental exercise testing for the purposes of performance diagnostics.


Blood Lactate Endurance Training Work Rate Ventilation Threshold Lactate Threshold 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medical Sciences, Health and Exercise ScienceThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsNational University of IrelandGalwayIreland
  3. 3.Facoltà di Scienze MotorieUniversità degli Studi di VeronaVeronaItaly

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