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Balke VO2 max Test

Testing and measurement are the means of collecting information upon which subsequent performance evaluations and decisions are made. In the analysis, we need to consider the factors influencing the results.


The objective of the Balke VO2max Test (Balke 1963)[1] is to monitor the athlete's VO2 max development.

Required Resources

To conduct this test, you will require:

  • 400m track
  • Stopwatch
  • Whistle
  • Assistant

How to conduct the test

This test requires the athlete to run as far as possible in 15 minutes

  • The athlete warms up for 10 minutes
  • The assistant gives the command "GO", starts the stopwatch, and the athlete commences the test
  • The assistant:
    • keeps the athlete informed of the time at the end of each 400m lap
    • blows the whistle after 15 minutes
    • records the total distance achieved in 15 minutes to the nearest 10 metres


Based on the distance achieved in the test Horwill (1992)[2] uses the following equation to calculate the athlete's VO2 max:

  • (((Total distance covered ÷ 15) - 133) × 0.172) + 33.3

To estimate your VO2 max, using this equation, enter the total distances covered and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Distance metres     VO2 max mls/kg/min

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


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

Target Group

This test is suitable for endurance athletes and players of endurance sports (e.g. football, rugby) but not for individuals where the test would be contraindicated.


Test reliability refers to how 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 influencing the results and test reliability.


Test validity refers to the degree to which the test measures what it claims to measure and the extent to which inferences, conclusions, and decisions based on 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 the actual VO2 max is high. FTo assess your VO2 max, check out the VO2 max normative data tables.


  • Minimal equipment required
  • Simple to set up and conduct
  • More than one athlete can conduct the test at the same time


  • Specific facilities required - 400m track
  • Assistant required to administer the test

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  1. BALKE, B. (1963) A simple field test for the assessment of physical fitness. PMID, 14131272
  2. HORWILL F. (1991) Obsession for Running - A Lifetime in Athletics. London: Colin Davies Printers

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2000) Balke VO2 max Test [WWW] Available from: [Accessed