An introduction to Short Graded Exercise Tests
A Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) is a non-invasive method used to assess the performance of the heart and lungs at rest and during exercise. The Short-Graded Exercise Test (SGET) is an example of a CPET, which is an excellent method of measuring an individual’s VO2max. It is comprised of multiple 1 minute stages, where the exercise intensity is progressively increased (the graded element), resulting in the subject exercising to fatigue. The intensity of the exercise can be increased in a number of ways such as increasing the resistance applied by a flywheel, increasing the incline that the exercise is being carried out at or increasing the speed at which the exercise is being conducted. This test can be carried on a number of different ergometers, exercise machines which are equipped with apparatus that measure the work performed by exercising. SSC offer the test on either a Cycling, Running or Rowing ergometer.
Various forms of data are collected from the subject including breath by breath analysis allowing a VO2max score and VO2max peak to be recorded. As well as these VO2max scores, ventilatory thresholds 1 and 2 are recorded, which are vital in highlighting weaknesses within an individual’s cardiac make up and to the construction of training programmes. These values allow for training zones to be calculated, thus setting out the intensity each training session should be conducted at.
Respiratory Exchange Ratio
Another important facet of data gained from conducting a SGET is the subject’s Respiratory Exchange Ratio (RER), this identifies the fuel source the subject is using at a particular moment during the exercise test such as either carbohydrate, fat or a mixture of both. This information is useful in terms of the fuelling the subject would require for different events as well as highlighting the general metabolic conditions within the subject at rest.
Practically the SGET is appealing due to the swift nature in which the test can be completed compared to the Long-Graded Exercise Test, particularly to amateur and semi-professional athletes. The SGET is ideal for runners, rowers, cyclists and triathletes as the information the test provides can assist one’s strength and conditioning coach to create a more personalised and more effective training plan.
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