Estimation of maximal oxygen uptake using the heart rate ratio method in male recreational football players

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2022 Jun;122(6):1421-1428. doi: 10.1007/s00421-022-04928-0. Epub 2022 Mar 17.


Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) is associated with cardiovascular and metabolic health in the general population. The heart rate (HR) ratio method (HRratio) is a valid, easy and accessible method for estimating VO2max in well-trained subjects. This study examined the validity of using the HRratio to estimate VO2max in recreational football players in the untrained and trained states. Sixty-six participants (age 39.3 ± 5.8 years) were tested pre-training and 28 after 12 weeks, for VO2max assessment, running on a treadmill alternating speed (1 km h-1) and inclination (1%) increments every 30 s until exhaustion. Maximal HR (HRmax) was assessed directly with a multiple approach and estimated with selected equations. Resting HR (HRrest) was measured in supine position, after 15 min of rest. The HRratio method considers the product of HRmax/HRrest ratio by a theoretical proportionality factor (15 ml kg-1 min-1, TPF) to estimate VO2max. This population-specific proportionality factor (SPF) was 14.6 ± 2.6 ml kg-1 min-1. In the untrained state (n = 66), participants' actual VO2max (41.3 ± 6.2 ml kg-1 min-1) was moderately lower (~ 2 ml kg-1 min-1) than the estimated VO2max using the TPF. A nonsignificant difference (0.7 ml kg-1 min-1) was found when the VO2max was estimated using the SPF. When using HRmax equations and the TPF, a small nonsignificant difference (~ 1.5 ml kg-1 min-1) was reported between actual and estimated VO2max. In the trained state (n = 28), the estimated VO2max values were not significantly different from the actual VO2max (44.2 ± 5.2 ml kg-1 min-1), with large effect sizes when considering TPF and estimated HRmax. The results of this study provide evidence of the applicability of HRratio in estimating VO2max in male adult/middle-aged recreational football players.

Keywords: Aerobic fitness; Soccer; Team sport; Testing; Training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise Test / methods
  • Games, Recreational
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen
  • Oxygen Consumption* / physiology
  • Soccer* / physiology


  • Oxygen