Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport

Degree Type

Master of Science in Physical Education


Maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max) is the best criterion measure for aerobic fitness and the prescription of exercise intensity for programs designed to enhance cardiorespiratory fitness. There are two ways of obtaining VO2 max: maximal tests, which require subjects to exercise to the point of volitional exhaustion and provide the most accurate measure; and submaximal tests, which are less physically strenuous but have lower accuracy. A popular submaximal protocol is the YMCA bike test. Steady state heart rate (HR) is measured at multiple submaximal workloads and extrapolated to the subject's estimated maximal HR (220-age). The VO2 corresponding to the estimated maximal HR is accepted as the estimated VO2 max. The accuracy of this submaximal testing protocol effects the ability to estimate a subject's actual aerobic capacity. To help better investigate the YMCA protocol, submaximal measures (HR, VO2) were utilized at specific workloads in an attempt to improve the accuracy of the prediction. The standard YMCA protocol was completed and then extended to actual maximal exertion. Submaximal measures (HR, VO2, etc.) were used to develop a regression equation predicting VO2 max. T-tests were used to compare VO2 data between protocols. Multiple regression analyses were performed to generate regression equations to enhance the accuracy of VO2 max estimations from the YMCA submaximal protocol. Results were considered to have no significant difference in the new regression equation and the actual measured VO2 max. Because submaximal measures (HR, VO2) could not be utilized to improve the accuracy of the prediction of the YMCA protocol, the original purpose was deemphasized and redirected. Considering the apparent utility of anthropometric measures in estimating VO2 max, this study sought to improve the accuracy of the YMCA protocol by adding anthropometric measures (BMI, Skinfolds) to develop two separate regression models. Results were significantly different (p < 0.05) between Measured V02 (MV02) and V02 estimated from the YMCA protocol (YV02). Additionally, results were significantly different (p = 0.003) between the Houston nonexercise test and MVO2. In conclusion, although a significant correlation resulted between MVO2 and YVO2, it was not stronger than other submaximal estimations. Also, it was not a strong predictor because of a significant difference between the Houston nonexercise test and MVO2. Therefore, by adding BMI and Skinfolds to the popular YMCA formula, r-values were increased (r = 0.817 and r = 0.822) and can therefore better estimate a subject's VO2 max versus solely using graphic plots of steady state HR responses at protocol-determined workloads.



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