Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Human Performance and Health Education

First Advisor

Nicholas Hanson

Second Advisor

Taylor Lee


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare two different pacing strategies during a self-paced VO2max (SPV) test, conservative and aggressive, while still adhering to the protocol established by Mauger and Sculthorpe.

Methods: The 14 subjects (age 29.36 ± 5.6 years; mean ± SD) were healthy and low risk as classified through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) risk stratification guidelines. After a familiarization session, the subjects completed two SPVs. The SPV protocol consisted of five two-minute stages with a total test time of 10 minutes. Subjects were asked to maintain certain ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) within each stage, but are allowed to control power output (speed) throughout. The RPE stages were 11 (light), 13 (somewhat hard), 15 (hard), 17 (very hard) and 20 (maximal exertion). The difference between the two tests occurred in the final 2-minute stage. Under the conservative approach (CON), subjects were asked to use the entire 2-minute stage to build up to their max. In the aggressive approach (AGG), subjects were asked to go all out, or hit their max, at the beginning of the stage, knowing full well they would have to decrease their speed toward the end. The primary variables collected were relative VO2max (ml/kg/min), respiratory exchange ratio (RER) and maximum heart rate (HRmax). Paired samples t-tests were used to compare the mean values found in each condition.

Results: HRmax for AGG (186.7 ± 4.2 bpm) showed no significant difference compared to CON (187.0 ± 4.9 bpm). Peak VO2 also showed no significant difference between the AGG (58.8 ± 8.8 ml/kg/min) and CON (58.3 ± 7.9 ml/kg/min) strategies. Conversely, the maximal RER recorded in AGG (1.25 ± .09) was significantly higher (p < .05) than CON (1.18 ± .07).

Conclusion: The purpose of a VO2 max is to achieve the highest possible value of oxygen consumption. These results suggest that although the aggressive strategy elicited slightly higher scores (HR and VO2), there was no significant difference between a conservative and aggressive approach to the final stage of an SPV with regards to these variables. However, it can be concluded that adopting an aggressive strategy will produce a higher RER value. This could impact preference for a certain pacing strategy.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted