Anaerobic capacity determined by maximal accumulated O2 deficit

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1988 Jan;64(1):50-60. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1988.64.1.50.


We present a method for quantifying the anaerobic capacity based on determination of the maximal accumulated O2 deficit. The accumulated O2 deficit was determined for 11 subjects during 5 exhausting bouts of treadmill running lasting from 15 s to greater than 4 min. The accumulated O2 deficit increased with the duration for exhausting bouts lasting up to 2 min, but a leveling off was found for bouts lasting 2 min or more. Between-subject variation in the maximal accumulated O2 deficit ranged from 52 to 90 ml/kg. During exhausting exercise while subjects inspired air with reduced O2 content (O2 fraction = 13.5%), the maximal O2 uptake was 22% lower, whereas the accumulated O2 deficit remained unchanged. The precision of the method is 3 ml/kg. The method is based on estimation of the O2 demand by extrapolating the linear relationship between treadmill speed and O2 uptake at submaximal intensities. The slopes, which reflect running economy, varied by 16% between subjects, and the relationships had to be determined individually. This can be done either by measuring the O2 uptake at a minimum of 10 different submaximal intensities or by two measurements close to the maximal O2 uptake and by making use of a common Y-intercept of 5 By using these individual relationships the maximal accumulated O2 deficit, which appears to be a direct quantitative expression of the anaerobic capacity, can be calculated after measuring the O2 uptake during one exhausting bout of exercise lasting 2-3 min.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / biosynthesis*
  • Adult
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism*
  • Lactates / blood
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion*


  • Lactates
  • Adenosine Triphosphate