Prediction of upper extremity peak oxygen consumption from heart rate during submaximal arm cycling in young and middle-aged adults

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2019 Dec;119(11-12):2589-2598. doi: 10.1007/s00421-019-04225-3. Epub 2019 Oct 4.


Based on the strong linear relationship between heart rate (HR) and oxygen consumption, the Åstrand-Ryhming cycle ergometer test (Astrand and Ryhming in J Appl Physiol 7:218-221, 1954) is a widely used submaximal test to predict whole body maximal oxygen consumption ([Formula: see text]). However, a similar test predicting peak oxygen consumption ([Formula: see text]) in the upper extremities is not established, and may be very useful for individuals unable to use their lower extremities or/and if separation of upper extremity aerobic capacity is sought after. Thus, the aim of the current study was to develop a submaximal test predicting [Formula: see text] in arm-cycling. Forty-nine healthy volunteers (25 women: 38 ± 13 years; 24 men: 39 ± 12 years) tested arm-cycle [Formula: see text] on a protocol with 4-min, 21-W increments to exhaustion. The data were contrasted to treadmill [Formula: see text] values. Arm-cycle [Formula: see text] was 66 ± 8% of [Formula: see text] (r = 0.92, p < 0.001; women: 1.9 ± 0.4 L min-1; men: 3.0 ± 0.7 L min-1). Arm-cycle HR and [Formula: see text] exhibited correlations of r = 0.79 and r = 0.78 for women and men, respectively, while corresponding correlations between work rate and [Formula: see text] were r = 0.95 (women) and r = 0.89 (men) (all p < 0.001). Arm-cycle [Formula: see text] prediction revealed a standard error of estimate (SEE) of 11.2% (women) and 10.2% (men), and was primarily due to individual arm-cycle maximal HR (women: 173 ± 13 beats min-1; men: 174 ± 10 beats min-1; correction factor: 5-7%). In conclusion, from a single 4-min stage of submaximal arm cycling, [Formula: see text] can be predicted with a SEE of 10-11%. The arm-cycle test may have important value for individuals who rely on arms in sports and occupations, and for patients with lower extremity disabilities.

Keywords: Arm cranking; Heart rate; Submaximal test; Work rate; Åstrand–Ryhming.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Upper Extremity / physiology*
  • Young Adult