VO2max, Protocol Duration, and the VO2 Plateau

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Jul;39(7):1186-92. doi: 10.1249/mss.0b13e318054e304.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare VO2max, VO2-time slopes at the end of the protocol (last 30 s), and the presence of a VO2 plateau (VO2-time slope < 0.05 L.min(-1) during the last 30 s) across four protocol durations (5, 8, 12, and 16 min) during incremental cycling exercise to VO2max.

Methods: Eight male (23.8 +/- 3.2 yr) and eight female (26.0 +/- 8.9 yr) subjects of moderate to high fitness levels participated in the study.

Results: VO2max was significantly higher in men than in women for each protocol duration, with main effect means of 4.23 versus 2.84 L.min(-1), respectively. For women, VO2max did not differ between any protocol duration. For men, VO2max for the 8-min protocol (4.44 +/- 0.39 L.min(-1)) was significantly higher than for all other protocol durations. Analysis of covariance, using the highest VO2max as the covariate, removed all protocol-duration significance for men. The VO2 slope for the final 30 s of each test was significantly lower for the 16-min protocol compared with the 5-min protocol, for both men and women. The ventilation threshold across four protocols was similar, at approximately 76% of VO2max for both men and women.

Conclusions: The protocol duration of tests to VO2max should be between 8 and 10 min for healthy, moderately to highly trained subjects.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Exercise Test*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maximal Voluntary Ventilation / physiology*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • United States
  • Ventilation