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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The Wingate 60, a measure of VO2 max status

An individual's VO2 max/peak power or running speed, has been used as a measure of aerobic fitness as well as predictor of race times.  Besides using gas exchange data during a lab ramp test, other modalities can give a rough idea of the VO2 max.  A previous post looked at the average power produced over a 3-5 minute interval as one surrogate.  Recently I came across a paper from a few years ago that also gives an alternate index of VO2 max status from a different type of testing procedure.  This method is quick, simple and at least in my experience, very reproducible.  The procedure is a 60 second Wingate test, or an all out 60 second effort.  First we will review a published study, then look at some of my personal results with emphasis on O2 saturation of legs, arms, and costal muscles.  Since I do have the Hexoskin, we also have a super accurate EKG plus ventilation data.

A word about the Wingate test.  In the lab the test is done on a load controlled bike with a fixed resistance based on the subjects weight.  However, one can also do something similar in the field.  My procedure is to use a moderately steep hill with a constant grade, approaching it at about the same speed, gearing, heart and ventilation rates.  I always use the same hill.  Although this departs from the strict lab definition, it is a more realistic setting as far as performance on ones own bike, position, as well as pedal resistance is concerned.
In addition, the Wingate 30 second test is usually thought of as a measure of both alactacid and lactacid potentials, not aerobic physiology.  However, others in the field have shown that at longer interval times, an index of aerobic capacity is possible.

The study aim was to compare the peak VO2 responses of an incremental ramp test to both a Wingate 45 and Wingate 60 second effort.  
There theory was:
It was hypothesized that: (a) an increase in the duration of
the Wingate test to 60 s would elicit peak VO2
values that were equivalent to that of an incremental stepwise test to voluntary
fatigue, and (b) the central and peripheral factors that determine
the peak VO2 would be significantly related between the Win60
and incremental exercise tests.
There were 3 tests, an incremental, a Wingate 45 and a Wingate 60 second.
Some basic results were:
 Interestingly this comment was made:

From my personal perspective, I must agree.  There are times when I can barely stay on the bike after an all out 1 minute.  Because of this I have never wanted to try an all out 3 minute test which has also been used as an index of critical power.

How did they fare in regards to VO2 max, max HR, ventilation rates?

  • The Wingate 60 VO2 max was very close to the incremental test which did verify the initial hypothesis.  
  • Peak heart rate was higher in the incremental test than the Wingate 60.
  • Ventilation rate was higher in the Wingate 60 than incremental test.
  • Oxygen pulse (a measure of stroke volume) was the same in Wingate 60 and incremental.

NIRS measurements of the VL:
Unfortunately, the area of interest is buried in the first part of the graph.  It would have been nice to see the fluctuations during the Wingate 60 but we do have these comments:
  • The O2 sat declined more rapidly in the Wingate tests than incremental.
  • Wingate O2 rapid decline occurred in the first 35 seconds, then leveled off or slightly increased.  Notice the mention of different patterns.
  • During active recovery, O2 saturation rose rapidly and did overshoot baseline before returning toward normal.
In regards to total Hb:

  • During the incremental ramp, the THb gradually rose, then leveled off or dropped slightly.
  • In contrast, both Wingate tests showed a decrease in THb during the first 30-40s, then rose but not to baseline.
  • During active recovery the THb returned toward baseline with a plateau in passive recovery.
VO2 - 
There are some practical and more esoteric points made by this study.
First and most importantly:
Therefore, we can use the Wingate 60 as an index of the VO2 peak which is perhaps a better term than the max since the index is represented by a best effort.  In other words performance on a Wingate 60 after a 3 hour intense training ride will be quite different than after a 20 minute warmup.  Peak is not necessarily a maximal possible result.

The wingate 60:incremental test peak values were
      • VO2 96%
      • Heart rate 92%
      • O2 pulse 99%
      • Lactate 99%
Tissue O2
  • The O2 desaturation was more pronounced with the incremental test.
  • Several potential reasons were given including changes muscle recruitment patterns, the Bohr effect.
Total Hb

  • The THb abrupt decrease was seen only in the Wingate tests only.


  • This has been discussed in this blog before - the application of maximal force by the leg muscles resembles that of weight training, resulting in high intramuscular pressure and hence flow reduction.

Respiratory aspects
 This point was of great interest to me.  It was explored by the following:
  • A higher Ventilation rate occurred during the Wingate vs incremental test.
  • There was a greater degree of ventilation per unit of O2 consumed in the Wingate 60.
  • Mention was made of chest muscle O2 monitoring to follow respiratory function effects.
  • Recommendation was made to follow both locomotor as well as indirect muscles of exercise.

Final points made:

  • "A valid measure of the peak VO2 can be attained during a Win60 test"
  • "A greater proportion of the peak VO2 during the Win60 test was due to oxygen utilization by the respiratory muscles when compared to the incremental test because of the higher VE and VE/VO2 ratio during the Win60 test. 
  • VL desaturation was greater with incremental ramp than Wingate test.

My Data:

The following two intervals were done on the same day, O2 measurements on the VL, RF and costal areas.  The first is a 4 minute slightly fast start done at MAP, with the second test an all out Wingate 60s.

The HR, Ventilation:

Costal (yellow) and RF (blue) O2, red is power:

VL (yellow) only with total Hb in purple:

Compared to the Wingate 60 (same day, no sensor position change):

Heart rate and Ventilation:

Costal (yellow), RF (blue) O2, red is power:

VL (yellow) )2, total Hb (purple), power is red:
  • The O2 desaturation of each muscle location was near identical. 
  • The pattern of decline and gradual up slope was similar in the VL, RF in both the 4 minute MAP and Wingate 60 trials.
  • The pattern of straight downward slope was the same in the costal tracings.
  • Heart rate and ventilation at the interval end was very similar.

Examples of other muscle groups:
Although not done on the same day as above, I have some non locomotor muscle data during both a MAP and Wingate 60.  Each pair was done on the same day, with both max HR and ventilation very similar (data not shown).

MAP 3 minutes
Costal O2 (yellow), Biceps O2 (blue), power in red:

Wingate 60
Costal O2 (yellow), Biceps O2 (blue), power in red:

  • Both Costal O2, biceps O2 have similar desaturation patterns and values in the MAP and Wingate 60 intervals.
  • The biceps desaturation is severe and lasts well into the recovery portion.

Deltoid Patterns
The MAP 3min, Wingate 60 are on the same graph, max HR, ventilation rates were equivilant:

Deltoid O2:

  • The pattern and degree of desaturation in the MAP, Wingate 60 intervals were virtually identical.
  • Incidentally, the sensor employed here was the Humon Hex.  It performed very well and an updated review is in the works. 

Final Thoughts:
  • The maximal/peak aerobic power (MAP) also referred to as VO2 max/peak can be reached either by a conventional ramp or a maximal all out 60 second effort.
  • The data presented here was the result of a much different protocol than the literature reviewed.  The published study compared a ramp with a Wingate 60, whereas I am comparing a relatively steady 3-4 minute interval done at near peak aerobic power.
  • According to my results (subject number=1), the peak/maximal aerobic power appears attainable with either the Wingate 60 or a 3-4 minute near max steady state effort.
  • The steady state MAP interval yielded similar ventilation rates to the Wingate 60 as opposed to the ramp testing.  Whether this correlates with higher percent of VO2 peak used by respiratory muscles as seen in the ramp comparison was not tested.  
  • However, the costal O2 nadir was remarkably similar in each test condition, perhaps indicating similar degrees of proportional VO2 usage for the respiratory muscles.
  • The peak HR, ventilation rates were similar in both scenarios.
  • The nadir O2 for the muscle groups tested were similar in both the Wingate 60 and MAP intervals.
  • Patterns of O2 desaturation were similar in the Wingate 60 and MAP tests.
  • The Wingate 60 appears to be a reasonable method for fitness monitoring, VO2 max power, and muscle desaturation nadir measurements.  It's short nature makes it a more convenient modality than longer testing efforts.

 VO2 max related posts

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