Lab and field vo2peak testing in highly trained cyclists

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The issues with traditional maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) testing include an inability to regulate intensity due to fixed resistance and a lack of conscious decision making during the test (Noakes, 2008). Depending on the test and conditions, some athletes do not reach V̇O2max despite reaching volitional exhaustion, and in this case, the result is recorded as the highest, or peak oxygen uptake attained in this test, known as V̇O2peak. To investigate this, a study was conducted to determine if a field-based test would result in a higher V̇O2peakvalue than a lab-based test. Twelve highly trained cyclists performed a 20w/minute ramp test on a cycle ergometer and a 3.2km hill climb on their own racing bike wearing a portable gas analyser (MetaMax 3b, Cortex GmbH, Leipzig, Germany). A paired t-test revealed that the hill climb resulted in a higher but not statistically significant absolute V̇O2peak: lab 5.49 ± 0.8 L·min-1vs. field 5.59 ± 0.7 L·min-1,p = .189 and relative V̇O2peak: lab 71.9 ± 10.0 ml·kg-1·min-1vs. field 74.0 ± 9.9 ml·kg-1·min-1, p = .060. Additionally, field testing resulted in a significantly higher RERmax: lab 1.07 ± 0.0 vs. field 1.16 ± 0.1, p = .019,end lactate: lab 9.24 ± 1.6 mmol·L-1vs. field 11.99 ± 2.3 mmol·L-1, p = .039, and 5-minute-post lactate: lab 7.56 ± 1.4 mmol·L-1vs. field 11.87 ± 2.0 mmol·L-1, p < 0.001. There was no difference in HRmaxbetween tests: lab 187.9 ± 11.6 b·min-1vs. field187.6 ± 10.6 b·min-1, p = .952. Slightly higher V̇O2peakvalues recorded during the field test may be explained by the closed-loop format allowing riders to pace their effort better, the cooling effect of the wind outdoors, freedom to ride out-the-saddle (leading to greater muscle recruitment), or perhaps the sub-optimal length of the lab test 20.4 ± 3.0 mins vs 8.4 ± 1.2 mins field test. Findings suggest the increased ecological validity of field testing led to higher (but not statistically significant) V̇O2peakvalues and can be considered a viable alternative to lab-based testing if a climb with suitable length and gradient is available
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalThe Journal of Sport and Exercise Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2020


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