Measurement of anaerobic work capacities in humans

Sports Med. 1995 Jan;19(1):32-42. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199519010-00003.


The development of simple, noninvasive tests of work capacities, underpinned primarily by anaerobic metabolism, proliferated in the early 1970s. A 30-second maximal cycle test developed at the Wingate Institute initiated efforts to develop work tests of anaerobic capacities. Such tests can be developed using any ergometer which simulates competitive conditions and enables an accurate determination of mechanical work output. A 10-second all-out test is commonly used to measure maximal work output generated primarily via the hydrolysis of high-energy phosphagens (i.e. the alactic work capacity). In contrast, a variety of constant-load and all-out tests of anaerobic (alactic plus lactic) work capacity have been proposed. It has been suggested that all-out tests provide more information about physiological capabilities and are easier to apply than constant-load tests. The optimal duration for an all-out test of anaerobic work capacity is proposed at 30 seconds, a duration which may also provide the basis for the development of accurate field tests of anaerobic capacity. There is evidence that the y-intercept of the maximal work-derivation regression is a valid work estimate of anaerobic capacity in athletes, although its utility is undermined by the number of tests required for its derivation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise Test / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Work Capacity Evaluation


  • Adenosine Triphosphate