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The ‘Incremental Cycle-Ergometer Test’ involved subjects performing a timed five-minute warm-up on a Monark 824E cycle-ergometer at a work rate of 120watts, succeeded by a brief session lasting a couple of minutes, stretching the major muscle groups involved. Using the same cycle-ergometer, the subject then pedalled at a frequency of 60rpm during the whole test, with the speed being regulated by the subject observing the speedometer, and by observers encouraging the subject to maintain speed.

This ensured the power output for each stage was attained. After three minutes of constant workload, the power output was increased 30watts by adding 0.5kg to the cradle. During the final minute of each three minute stage, expired air was collected using Douglass Bags, nose clips and one way mouth valves, all of which supplied by Harvard Apparatus Ltd. Heart rate was also recorded every 15 seconds when expired air was being collected (using a Polar Accuracy Plus heart rate monitor made by Polar Electro Oy, in Kempele Finland). Each three-minute stage was timed using a stopwatch to enhance reliability. When the subject felt they were approximately one minute’s exercise from total exhaustion they gave a pre-determined signal to alert data collectors of the impending cessation of exercise.

At this point expired air was collected and heart rate was monitored until volitional exhaustion forced the subject to stop exercising. Collection of air and heart rate monitoring was done using the same methods as described previously for the end of each stage. Subjects were encouraged and motivated in an attempt to prolong the exercise and reach a more accurate maximum measurement, and if the subject was able to continue exercising for longer than the self-predicted final minute, an accurate record of expired air collection time was taken using a stopwatch to ensure accurate VO2 values could be calculated.

Five minutes post-exercise, blood lactate measurements were analysed using a small blood sample. The volume of expired air collected at each stage was measured using a Dry Gas meter designed by Harvard Apparatus Ltd, and expired air content was analysed, using a Gas Analyser manufactured by Analytical Development Co Ltd, in Hodderson, England. The second test conducted was the ‘Constant Load VO2max Cycle-Ergometer Test’.

The protocol for this test involved an identical warm-up as the first test, and then the subject cycling at 60rpm (on the same ergometer as previously) throughout the duration of the test, with the weight on the cradle and therefore the power output being the same as that of the last stage completed during the ‘Incremental Cycle-Ergometer Test’ the previous week. Again this test continued until volitional exhaustion and during the final minute of exercise as predicted by the subject, the same protocol was employed as during the final minute of the ‘Incremental Cycle-Ergometer Test’.

Expired air was collected and analysed using the same equipment and heart rate was monitored with the same equipment. The ‘Incremental Treadmill Exercise Test’ involved subjects completing a five-minute warm-up on a Power Jog GX200 Treadmill manufactured by Sport Engineering Ltd in England. As with previous warm-ups, a stretching session took place and brief rest period before the start of exercise. The actual test involved subjects running at a constant 1% gradient on the same treadmill until volitional exhaustion, however the power output was increased every three minutes, by increasing the speed by 2km/h.

The test continued until volitional exhaustion but during the final minute of exercise, expired air and heart rate were all measured or collected using identical methods to the previous tests, a five-minute post-exercise lactate sample also being collected. VO2, VCO2 and RER were calculated for each subject on each test using Microsoft Excel and recognised formulae. The ‘Multi-Stage Fitness Test’ was the only field test conducted and therefore the collection of expired air was impossible to conduct.

This was therefore a predictive, test in terms of VO2max. Subjects were required to run continuously between two points 20m apart, keeping pace with audio cues from a tape recording. The pace of the audio cues increased after every 10 shuttles, and subjects ran until they failed to cross the line on two consecutive shuttles or at volitional exhaustion. Heart rate was recorded immediately after the subject stopped running, using the same method as in other tests.

VO2max is determined by the number of shuttles completed at each incremental level of the test. Blood lactate was also analysed five minutes after the cessation of exercise, in identical fashion to other tests. Analysing the results due to the nature of the protocols was simple. Statistical analysis involved the mean scores and standard deviation from all subjects for each test in relation to VO2, RER HR and lactate. The mean results gave a foundation upon which to base the comparative discussion.

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