The beep test is a continuous incremental maximal running test (see protocol) conducted up and down a 20-meter course. The running speed increases approximately every minute (see levels). For various reasons, people want to know if they can replicate this test on a treadmill. A treadmill may be more suitable for testing as it requires less room, and may be conducted inside out of adverse weather conditions. However, although you may be able to do something that appears to be similar to the beep test, significant differences mean that the results are not directly comparable.
Replicating the Speeds
You can replicate the beep test on a treadmill, but you cannot replace it. It is possible to run on the treadmill at the same pace and increments as the beep test. Firstly, you should set the treadmill to 1% incline (this best mimics the energy demands of running outdoors on the flat) and a speed of 8.5 km/hr. Each minute, increase the speed by 0.5 km/hr. What you are missing is the turning, involving a deceleration and acceleration every 20 meters, something that is not possible to do on a treadmill. Performing the treadmill beep test will be much easier without the turns, and you will reach a higher level and therefore faster speed than if you had done the test on a 20m course.
It is closer to the University of Montreal Track Test
You can more closely replicate a different test. You can conduct a treadmill version of the precursor to the beep test, the University of Montreal Track Test. This is an incremental continuous running test conducted around a 400m running track, which follows audio cues that increase every two minutes. It is possible to do this on a treadmill, increasing the treadmill speed each minute. The first stage is set at a walking speed of 6 km/hr, thereafter the speed is increased by 1.2 km/hr every two minutes.
Training for the Beep Test
You can use the treadmill to perform a beep-type test as a workout to improve your fitness and prepare for the standard beep test. To more closely replicate the total time of the test, you should increase the running speeds of each level, or increase the gradient (e.g. 5%). See other ways to train for the beep test.
Be careful as the beep test is a maximal test, and running on a treadmill until exhaustion has some risks. It is suggested to have some sort of automatic stop mechanism, such as a cord attached between the treadmill and the athlete, an emergency stop button, and an assistant standing by.
- JONES, A. M. and DOUST, J. H. (1996) A 1% treadmill grade most accurately reflects the energetic cost of outdoor running. Journal of sports sciences, 14 (4), p. 321-327
- Procedure for measuring VO2max on a Treadmill
- Fitness tests which are modified beep tests
- Guide to variations of the beep / bleep test
- Beep Test Procedure — detailed instructions for conducting the beep test. Also video examples.
- You can use the Astrand Treadmill Test, or the treadmill Bruce Test or Balke Test to predict VO2max.
- Beep Shuttle Listing — a listing of the number of runs for each level.
- Free download of the beep test mp3
- Treadmill Fitness Tests
- Maximizing Your Beep Test Score — maximizing your score is more than just fitness
- Calculating Your Score — calculator to determine your VO2max equivalent score
- Purchasing the beep test cd
- A Guide to Treadmills
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