Can I do the Beep Test on a Treadmill?

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 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.

treadmill beep testtreadmill beep test

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.

Caution Required

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.

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