Hi, cards on the table i aint a keep fit guru or an expert on VO2 but I need some help.
Basically, i'm a firefighter in the UK and we have been getting tested to see if we are fit enough to stay "on the run". some brigades operate the fitness testing differently from others. e.g. based on time while others look for gas analysis to be used.
the protocol is on a treadmill @ 3.8mph starting on the level and then incline increased 3% every 2 minutes upto a max incline of 15%. (there is a 2 minute warm immediately up before the start of the test)
The ACSM metabolic calculations have the vo2 estimates at each level:
The full document can be found at http://firefitsteeringgroup.co.uk/firefitreport.pdf
and the pages regarding the treadmill tests is 16-20. although there are 3 treadmill tests the RAMP Protocol test on p20 can be discounted as no brigade is using this.
The "pass" is a 42 ml/kg/min.
some fire departments are happy to test their FF's simply by "time" i.e. if they complete the test they must have around a 42.
some use a Polar HR monitor and let them complete each level up until they have a HR of above 80% of their Max HR. then project the graph to their Max HR (220-age) to get a VO2 score.
i dont have an issue with the 2 ways the tests are being conducted above my problem is the way my own department is conducting a basterdized test of all 3 ;
a 2 minute warm up is being employed immediately before the start of the test?
doing the test to level 6, knowing it could be a maximal test for some without proper medical equipment being available or trained medics (we in the uk aren't paramedic trained unlike the US FF's).
Gas analysis is being used and some (approx 10%) are being told that they have failed to get a minimum score to stay on the run (34) never mind the 42 for a 3 year ticket.
Of these 10% that are failing 95% them are completing the 6 levels of the test yet are being told that their VO2 Max is less than 34. I dont understand that someone can complete a test that ACSM say would give them a 42 yet because gas analysis is being used they are told that they are scoring as low as a 29/30. Furthermore what ive read is no one can operate at their VO2 Max for more than 90 seconds or thats what it says in the report (link above). so someone who scores 30 would really in effect have been operating at their MAX for nearly 4 minutes?
another issue that i forgot to mention is that the testers are telling FF's to breath heavy or even run during the test. I can only assume that this is to try and get the O2 absorbed levels up before the end of the test?
Is it possible that someone who's VO2 graph that hasn't plateaued at the end of level 6 and has only scored say 38 would be able to achieve a higher score if there was another level to the test say 18% incline?
Is it completely wrong to assume that someone who can finish the 6 levels has a VO2 of less than 34.
Does it sound like there is an issue with the calibration of the gas analyser (a medical graphics).
so to this community i appeal for some help in the form of your thoughts in the flaws of the test employed by my department!