Scaling behavior of VO2peak in trained wheelchair athletes

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Dec;35(12):2106-11. doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000099106.33943.8C.


Purpose: To examine the scaling behavior of peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) in wheelchair athletes, adjusting for known covariates.

Methods: Body mass, VO2peak, and an estimate of adiposity (sum of four skinfolds) were determined in a sample of 45 highly trained wheelchair basketball and racing athletes. The participants were classified as possessing either "high" or "low" trunk stability and balance using recognized sporting classifications. A wheelchair ergometer was used to obtain the VO2peak measurements. The relationship between VO2peak and body mass was obtained via a nonlinear allometric model with the sum of four skinfolds, trunk stability and balance, and chronological age entered as covariates.

Results: The point estimate exponent for body mass was 0.82 (95% CI, 0.54-1.10). After controlling for the influence of body mass, adiposity, and age, the wheelchair athletes with greater trunk stability and balance had on average an 11% greater VO2peak. The regression model explained 54% of the sample variance in VO2peak.

Conclusions: The obtained mass exponent of 0.82 is congruent with that predicted from the multiple-causes allometric cascade model and consideration of the physiological characteristics of spinal cord injured athletes. To compare the body size-independent VO2peak values of athletes within the study sample, the mass exponent of 0.82 may be adopted (i.e., mL x kg(-0.82) x min(-1)). The uncertainty in the point estimate, reflected in the relatively wide 95% CI, highlights the need for further research with larger samples to increase the precision of estimation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wheelchairs*