Standard anaerobic exercise tests

Sports Med. 1987 Jul-Aug;4(4):268-89. doi: 10.2165/00007256-198704040-00004.


Anaerobic tests are divided into tests measuring anaerobic power and anaerobic capacity. Anaerobic power tests include force-velocity tests, vertical jump tests, staircase tests, and cycle ergometer tests. The values of maximal anaerobic power obtained with these different protocols are different but generally well correlated. Differences between tests include factors such as whether average power or instantaneous power is measured, active muscle mass is the same in all the protocols, the legs act simultaneously or successively, maximal power is measured at the very beginning of exercise or after several seconds, inertia of the devices and body segments are taken into account. Force-velocity tests have the advantage of enabling the estimation of the force and velocity components of power, which is not possible with tests such as a staircase test, a vertical jump, the Wingate test and other long-duration cycle ergometer protocols. Maximal anaerobic capacity tests are subdivided into maximal oxygen debt test, ergometric tests (all-out tests and constant load tests), measurement of oxygen deficit during a constant load test and measurement of peak blood lactate. The measurement of the maximal oxygen debt is not valid and reliable enough to be used as an anaerobic capacity test. The aerobic metabolism involvement during anaerobic capacity tests, and the ignorance of the mechanical efficiency, limit the validity of the ergometric tests which are only based on the measurement of work. The amount of work performed during the Wingate test depends probably on glycolytic and aerobic power as well as anaerobic capacity. The fatigue index (power decrease) of the all-out tests is not reliable and depends probably on aerobic power as well as the fast-twich fibre percentage. Reliability of the constant load tests has seldom been studied and has been found to be rather low. In theory, the measure of the oxygen deficit during a constant load test is more valid than the other tests but its reliability is unknown. The validity and reliability of postexercise blood lactate as a test of maximal anaerobic capacity are probably not better than that of the current erogmetric tests. The choice of an anaerobic test depends on the aims and subjects of a study and its practicability within a testing session.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Exercise Test / methods*
  • Exercise Test / standards
  • Humans
  • Lactates / blood
  • Muscle Contraction


  • Lactates