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PWC170 & PWC75%Tests

PWC stands for physical work capacity. There are two similar tests. PWC-170 estimates the working capacity at a heart rate of 170 beats per minute, while PWC-75% estimates the working capacity at 75% of maximum heart rate. The procedures are very similar for the two tests, below is described the method for the PWC170. For the PWC75% the heart rates aim for each stage may be different.

purpose: This test measures aerobic fitness.

equipment required: Cycle ergometer, clock or stopwatch, heart rate monitor (optional).

pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender and test conditions. Check and calibrate the equipment. Adjust the seat and handlebar height. Perform a standard warm-up. See more details of pre-test procedures.

procedure: Athletes perform three consecutive workloads on a cycle ergometer. Begin by setting up subject on bike to ensure correct seat height (knee slightly bent at bottom of cycle). Place heart rate monitor on the subject. Check their exercise history to determine the starting workload (estimated to achieve a heart rate between 100-115). Start the test and measure heart rate each minute and continue for 3-4 minutes (until a steady heart rate is achieved). Continue the test for 2nd and 3rd workloads, set to achieve a HR between 115-130 and 130-145 beats per minute respectively.

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scoring: Each steady-state heart rate and workload are graphed, with the line of best fit for the three points extrapolated to estimate the workload that would elicit a heart rate of 170 beats per minute (or 75% of maximum HR for the PWC-75% test). This workload value can then be compared to norms.

advantages: Having the athletes seated during this test makes it appropriate for ECG monitoring.


test versions: As well as the PWC 170 and 75%, other levels may also be used, such as PWC 130 for measuring elderly or other populations in which you do not wish to excessively elevate the heart rate.

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