WEST, C.R. ...et al., 2015. Perspective: does laboratory-based maximal incremental exercise testing elicit maximum physiological responses in highly-trained athletes with cervical spinal cord injury? Frontiers of Physiology, 6:419.
The physiological assessment of highly-trained athletes is a cornerstone of many scientific support programs. In the present
article, we provide original data followed by our perspective on the topic of laboratory-based incremental exercise testing in elite
athletes with cervical spinal cord injury. We retrospectively reviewed our data on Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby athletes
collected during the last two Paralympic cycles. We extracted and compared peak cardiometabolic (heart rate and blood lactate)
responses between a standard laboratory-based incremental exercise test on a treadmill and two different maximal field tests (4
min and 40 min maximal push). In the nine athletes studied, both field tests elicited higher peak responses than the
laboratory-based test. The present data imply that laboratory-based incremental protocols preclude the attainment of true peak
cardiometabolic responses. This may be due to the different locomotor patterns required to sustain wheelchair propulsion during
treadmill exercise or that maximal incremental treadmill protocols only require individuals to exercise at or near maximal
exhaustion for a relatively short period of time. We acknowledge that both field- and laboratory-based testing have respective
merits and pitfalls and suggest that the choice of test be dictated by the question at hand: if true peak responses are required
then field-based testing is warranted, whereas laboratory-based testing may be more appropriate for obtaining cardiometabolic
responses across a range of standardised exercise intensities.
This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Frontiers Media under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/