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Balke Treadmill Test

Testing and measurement are the means of collecting information upon which subsequent performance evaluations and decisions are made but in the analysis we need to bear in mind the factors that may influence the results.

Objective

To monitor the development of the athlete's general endurance (VO2 max). It was originally developed by Hanson (1984)[1] to determine VO2 max in cardiac patients. The test has been used in a study of the physical fitness of Air Force personnel. (Balke & Ware 1959)[4]

Required Resources

To undertake this test you will require:

  • Treadmill
  • Stopwatch
  • Assistant
TreadmillTreadmill

How to conduct the test

This test requires the athlete to run for as long as possible on a treadmill whose slope increments at timed intervals

  • The athlete warms up for 10 minutes
  • The slope of the treadmill is set to 0%, for active and sedentary men the speed is set to 3.3 mph (5.3 km/hr) and for active and sedentary women 3.0 mph (4.5 km/hr)
  • The assistant gives the command “GO”, starts the stopwatch and the athlete commences the test
  • The assistant adjusts the treadmill slope at the appropriate times as follows:
    • For active and sedentary men the slope is set to 2% (1.2°) after 1 minute and then every minute thereafter the slope is increased by 1% (0.6°)
    • For active and sedentary women the slope is increased by 2.5% (1.4°) every 3 minutes
  • The assistant stops the stopwatch when the athlete is unable to continue and records the time - this ideally should be between 9 and 15 minutes

Converting from Percent Grade to Degrees

To determine the angle of elevation of a 15% grade you find the inverse tangent (Arctan) of 15 ÷ 100 (0.15), which is 8.5°.

If the slope is 10°, you determine the tangent of that angle, which is 0.176, x 100 to give a 17.6% grade.

Enter a value, select the parameter (degrees or percent) and then select the "Calculate" button.

Convert = =

Assessment

Active and sedentary men - (Pollock et al. 1976)[2]

From the total time an estimate of the athlete's VO2 max can be calculated as follows:

  • VO2 max = 1.444 × T +14.99

"T" is the total time of the test expressed in minutes and fractions of a minute e.g. 13 minutes 15 seconds = 13.25 minutes

Active and sedentary women - (Pollock et al. 1982)[3]

From the total time an estimate of the athlete's VO2 max can be calculated as follows:

  • VO2 max = 1.38 × T + 5.22

"T" is the total time of the test expressed in minutes and fractions of a minute.

For an estimate of your VO2 max enter the duration of the test and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Time minutes
     
Active and sedentary men mls/kg/min ±2.5 mls/kg/min
Active and sedentary women mls/kg/min ±2.2 mls/kg/min

For an analysis of your VO2 max score see the VO2 max page.

Analysis

Analysis of the test result is by comparing it with the athlete's previous results for this test. It is expected that, with appropriate training between each test, the analysis would indicate an improvement in the athlete's VO2 max.

Target Group

This test is suitable for active and sedentary individuals but not for those where the test would be contraindicated.

Reliability

Test reliability refers to the degree to which a test is consistent and stable in measuring what it is intended to measure. Reliability will depend upon how strict the test is conducted and the individual's level of motivation to perform the test. The following link provides a variety of factors that may influence the results and therefore the test reliability.

Validity

Test validity refers to the degree to which the test actually measures what it claims to measure and the extent to which inferences, conclusions, and decisions made on the basis of test scores are appropriate and meaningful. This test provides a means to monitor the effect of training on the athlete's physical development. There are published VO2 max tables and the correlation to actual VO2 max is high. For an assessment of your VO2 max see the VO2 max normative data tables.

Advantages

  • Minimal equipment required
  • Simple to set up and conduct

Disadvantages

  • Specialist equipment required - treadmill
  • Assistant required to administer the test

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References

  1. HANSON, P. (1984) Clinical Exercise Training. Sport Medicine, p. 13-40
  2. POLLECK et al. (1976) Physiological response of med 49-65 years of age to endurance training. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 24, p. 97-104
  3. POLLOCK et al. (1982) Comparative analysis of physiologic responses to three different maximal graded exercise test protocols in healthy women. American Heart Journal, 103 (3), p. 363-373
  4. BALKE, B. WARE, R.W. (1959) An experimental study of physical fitness of Air Force personnel. U.S. Armed Forces Med J , 10:675

Related References

The following references provide additional information on this topic:

  • FROELICHER, V. F. et al. (1975) Prediction of maximal oxygen consumption. Comparison of the Bruce and Balke treadmill protocols. CHEST Journal, 68 (3), p. 331-336
  • GUMMING, G. et al. (1978) Bruce treadmill test in children: normal values in a clinic population. The American journal of cardiology41 (1), p. 69-75

Page Reference

The reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Balke Treadmill Test [WWW] Available from: http://www.brianmac.co.uk/balketread.htm [Accessed

Related Pages

The following Sports Coach pages provide additional information on this topic: