You can use the Astrand Treadmill Test to get a quick and accurate measurement of VO2max. The Astrand protocol maintains a constant running speed with a 2.5% increase in gradient every two minutes, until exhaustion. This test protocol was first described by Per-Olof Astrand (1952).

• aim: to estimate aerobic fitness on the treadmill
• equipment required: a treadmill on which you can adjust the gradient, 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, test conditions. Perform a warm-up, running for 10 minutes on the treadmill at an easy pace. See more details of pre-test procedures.

Stage Treadmill Speed Stage Time (min) Elevation (%)
1 5 mph / 8 kph 3 0
2 5 mph / 8 kph 2 2.5
3 5 mph / 8 kph 2 5.0
4 5 mph / 8 kph 2 7.5
5 5 mph / 8 kph 2 10.0
6 5 mph / 8 kph 2 12.5
7 5 mph / 8 kph 2 15.0
8 5 mph / 8 kph 2 17.5
• procedure: This is a running test performed on a treadmill. The treadmill speed is set to 5 miles/hr (8 km/hr). The subject runs at this speed for three minutes, at 0% grade. The gradient is then increased to 2.5% while maintaining the same speed. After every two minutes thereafter, the gradient is increased by 2.5% (keeping the same speed), until the athlete reaches exhaustion. When the athlete is unable to continue, the assistant stops the stopwatch and records the time.
• scoring: Record the total time (expressed in minutes and fractions of a minute) that the subject lasted, and use it in this formula to calculate VO2max.

VO2max = (time x 1.444) + 14.99

• target population: Any sport in which aerobic endurance is a component, such as distance runners, cross-country skiers, rowers, triathlon, cycling.

• advantages: This test does not require expensive VO2 analysis equipment, though can give similar results. You can also get a direct measurement of maximum heart rate by recording heart rate during the test, which can then be used for setting training target heart rate zones.
• other comments: This test is best conducted with athletes who are familiar with exercising at high intensity.
• caution: This test is a maximal test, which requires a reasonable level of fitness. It is not recommended for recreational athletes or people with health problems, injuries or poor fitness levels.
• references:
• Astrand, P.O. (1952) Experimental studies of physical working capacity in relation to sex and age. Munksgaard, Copenhagen.
• Astrand P.O., Cuddy T. E., Saltin B., Stenberg J. (1964) Cardiac output during submaximal and maximal work. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1964;19:268–274.

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