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Correlation of VO2max Results: Being widely known as the best index of

measurement for cardiopulmonary fitness, maximal
YMCA Submaximal Cycle Ergometer Test and
oxygen consumption (VO2max) is physiologically the
Queens College Step Test
highest rate of oxygen transport(American College
of Sports Medicine, 2006). Calculation of VO2max
is used significantly in rehabilitation as well as
Sedgeman, Daniel
sports medicine to determine a person
cardiopulmonary fitness, in order to provide a basis
to design exercise program. However many of the
Undergraduate Research, Department of Wellness
protocols designed to determine VO2max such as
and Human Performance, Southwest Minnesota
the YMCA Submaximal Cycle Ergometer (YMCA)
State University, Marshall, Minnesota
test require extensive equipment and thus protocols
Abstract: such as the Queens College Step Test (QCT) were
developed. To illustrate this fact, for the YMCA
Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) is
Cycle test, the use of a Monark Ergomedic Cycle
physiologically the highest rate of oxygen
Ergometer is required and ranges in cost between
transport(American College of Sports Medicine,
$2000 and $3000 (, 2009). On the other hand for
2006). The hypothesis for this study is that the
the Queens called step test, a plyometric box of
Pearson’s Correlation coefficients would find
approximately 16 and a fourth inches tall is required
significant correlation between both tests. 15
and ranges in cost $100 to 300 (, 2009). Also, for
healthy men and women college-aged subjects were
the YMCA tests, equipment to measure blood
pressure is needed as well as a heart rate monitor.
used (mean= 21, SD= 2.976095). The YMCA test
However, this does not greatly increase the cost
consisted of a pre-test, a three minute warm up, the
relative to the QCT test because of the relatively
progressively staged test, and a three minute cool
low cost of blood pressure equipment and the QCT
down. The QCT test consisted of a pre-test and the
also required a heart rate monitor. Thus, the
three minute test. Overall, my results from QCT and
purpose of study was to determine the correlation of
the YMCA test did not correlate well to each other
results between the YMCA test and Queens College
(r=0.2010, p-value = 0.472). Men and non-athletes
Step Test (QCT), to provide reasoning for using the
correlated the worst (r=0.1968 and r=-.0643). For
more expensive method, the YMCA Submaximal
women, however, the data correlated much better
Cycle Ergometer (YMCA) test. Therefore, the
for women (r=0.5287, p-value = 0.360) and showed
hypothesis for this study is that is that Pearson’s
moderate correlation with non-college athletes
Correlation coefficients would find significant
(r= 0.5956, p-value = 0.404).
correlation between both tests.
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Methods: Subjects -Table #1: Physical Characteristics of

In order to complete this study, 15 healthy Correlation Study Subjects
men and women volunteer subjects were used Variable Mean SD Range
(mean= 21, SD= 2.976095). All subjects were
Age 21.5 3.44 12.00
predominantly college aged students of Southwest
Minnesota State University. Their physical Height (in cm) 183.52 7.65 25.40

characteristics are explained in table 1. Five of the Mass (in kg) 95.50 22.31 65.91
subjects were women, where one was an athlete and Resting Heart Rate 70.80 9.85 30.00
four were not, while 10 of the subjects were men
with an even distribution of athletes and non- Women
athletes. Each subject completed two submaximal
Age 20.00 1.58 4.00
VO2 protocols, both a YMCA test and QCT, which
Height (in cm) 167.64 7.18 15.24
calculate an estimate for VO2max. Before
Mass (in kg) 65.91 15.50 40.91
participation in either test, each subject was given a
survey, as well as an explanation of protocol along Resting Heart Rate 80.00 10.30 22.00
with the inherent risks of both tests. The survey SD = standard deviation
asked the subjects to give a general rate of fitness
and define their present athletic status. YMCA Test –

Materials Used – The YMCA test consisted of a pre-test, a

warm up, the progressively staged test, and a cool
The materials used during the study differed
down. During a pre-test, each subject was given an
depending on test. During the YMCA test, a Polar
explanation of how a Polar heart rate monitor works
heart rate monitor, a blood pressure cuff, a
and was then asked to put on the heart rate monitor.
stethoscope, and a Monark Ergomedic 828E cycle
Each subject was told for their privacy; it is
ergometer were used. During the QCT, a Polar heart
recommended to use the bathroom to put on a heart
rate monitor, an 18” plyometric box, a 2” exercise
rate monitor. Then, each subject was asked to sit in
mat, and an electronic metronome were used. All
order to get accurate measurement for resting heart
materials for this study were used with permission
rate and blood pressure. Next, their resting blood
from the Exercise Science Laboratory, Department
pressure was taken, as well as a record of their
height, mass in kg, age, and gender. Also at this
time, 85% of the subjects maximum heart rate was
calculated ([220-age]*.85). Finally, the subject was
of Wellness and Human Performance at Southwest
brought over to the cycle ergometer and given
Minnesota State University.
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specific instructions to the actual test phases of the last minute of every stage. Finally, the YMCA test
YMCA test protocol.(Powers, 2007) protocol ended with a three minute cool down,
where heart rate and blood pressure recorded at the
First of all, the YMCA test protocol began
end of the three minutes.(Powers, 2007).
with a three minute warm up, where the subject got
acclimated to 50 revolutions per minute cadence In order to calculate the estimation for
constant throughout test. Secondly, YMCA test VO2max during the YMCA test, first of all, all
protocol transition to its test stages, with a plateaued stage heart rates greater than 110 beats
maximum of four. Due to protocol once a subject per minute were plotted against their workloads
heart rate elevated to 85% of max heart rate, they (ml*kg-1*minute-1). Secondly, a regression line of
were not allowed to move up to the next stage best fit was drawn between the data points and
immediately began cool-down after completion of extrapolated to the subject’s maximum heart rate
their current stage. Each subject began to test stage (220-age). Then finally, with the workload
one at a resistance of 0.5 kilograms at stage one and associated with the subjects maximum heart rate,
the resistance increased in the other stages which can be found through the equation of the
depending on heart rate as shown in figure 1. In regression line, a VO2max equation given by Powers
addition, a subject not move onto the next stage & Howly is calculated ( VO2max (ml*min-1) =
until their heart rate plateaued to the point where 1.8ml*kgm-1 x ___kgm*min-1 + [ 7 ml*kg-1min-1 x
their heart rate was less than 5 beats per minute ___kg body mass] ). (Powers, 2007)
different than the previous minute. During each
Queens College Step Test –
stage, heart rate was recorded at the end of every
minute, while blood pressure and ratings of The QCT test consisted of a pre-test and then the
perceived exertion (RPE) was recorded within the test. There was not a mandatory a cool down, but it
Figure #1: Resistance for YMCA Stages was recommended. During a pre-test, each subject
was given a Polar heart rate monitor and followed
the same procedure described in the YMCA test
protocol. Then, each subject was asked to sit in
order to get accurate measurement for resting heart
rate. Next, a record was taken of their resting heart
rate and gender. Finally, the subject was brought
over to the plyometric box set up with the exercise
mat and given specific instructions to the actual test
phases of the YMCA test protocol. (American
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College of Sports Medicine, 2008).

F ig
Table #2: Comparison of estimated VO2max scores from the YMCA submaximal test versus the QCT
Men and women
Test Men (n=10) Women (n=5) Athletes (n=6)

Mean SD Range Mean SD Range Mean SD Range Mean SD Range

YMCA 34.96 4.81 14.94 35.16 4.71 14.67 34.55 5.54 14.6 37.65 2.69 8.33

QCT 40.98 7.49 21.39 45.05 5.35 15.96 32.84 2.73 6.65 46.22 5.73 14.74

Correl. r = 0.2010 r2 = 0.0404 r = 0.1968 r2 = 0.0387 r = 0.5287 r2 = 0.2795 r = -0.2123 r2 = 0.0451

p-value = 0.472 p-value = 0.585 p-value = 0.360 p-value = 0.686

Non-Athlete Women
Test Athlete Men (n=5) Non-Athletes (n=9) Non-Athlete Men (n=5)

Mean SD Range Mean SD Range Mean SD Range Mean SD Range

YMCA 37.59 3.01 8.33 34.25 5.89 14.94 33.71 6.01 14.6 32.81 5.28 14.67

QCT 47.99 4.18 9.24 40.48 6.03 16.77 31.71 1.20 2.4 42.11 5.03 11.34

Correl. r = -0.2659 r2 = 0.0707 r = -0.0643 r2 = 0.0041 r = 0.5956 r2 = 0.3548 r = -0.0932 r2 = 0.0087

p-value = 0.665 p-value = 0.869 p-value = 0.404 p-value = 0.881

SD = standard deviation; r = Pearson correlation coefficient; r2 = square of Pearson correlation coefficient

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First of all, the QCT protocol consists of a female non-athletes. Correlation was calculated by
three minute test, where the subject steps up and entering VO2max scores from YMCA test and the
down (“UP-UP-DOWN-DOWN”) on plyometric QCT into Minitab statistical software and
box of approximately 16.25 inches. Once the three calculating the Pearson correlation coefficient, r;
minute was completed, heart rate was immediately along with a P-value value for each comparison (r2
recorded and then plugged into a VO2max equation. was calculated in Excel). See Table #2 for further
The stepping cadence for men was 24 steps per information.

minute (96 beats per minute), while the stepping Results:

cadence for women were 22 steps per minute (88
The results of the correlation calculations
beats per minute). The cadence was maintained
show significantly small correlations for the
through the use of an electronic metronome. Since
majority (six out of the eight correlation groups).
the plyometric box available in the exercise science
However, slight and moderate correlations were
laboratory was 18 inches in height, a 2 inch exercise
found for female only correlation groups. This
mat was used to more closely approximate 16.25
implies the YMCA test and QCT are more linearly
(Note: due to the imprint of a foot to the exercise
correlated for women than for men (r= .5287 versus
mat, the exercise mat was really 1 inch thick).
r= .1968 respectively). See Figure 3 below.
In order to calculate the estimation for VO2max
For all subjects, small correlations were
during the QCT, depending on gender, one of two
found (r = 0.2010, p-value = 0.472), which show no
different VO2max equations was calculated. For men,
significant correlation between YMCA test and
QCT. Small correlations were found for athletes
the equation was VO2max = 111.33 - (0.42 X HR),
(r= -0.2123, p-value = 0.686), which show no
For women, the equation was VO2max = 65.81 -
(0.1847 X HR). In both instances, the recorded Figure 3: Graph of QCT predicted VO2max versus
heart rate immediately following a three minute test YMCA predicted VO2max. For men, r = 0.1968. For
was plugged in to HR and the estimated VO2max women, r = 0.5287.
was calculated.(American College of Sports
Medicine, 2008)

Correlation Testing –
significant correlation for athletes between YMCA
The compared data used to calculate
test and QCT. Significantly small correlations were
correlation included the estimated VO2max scores
found for non-athletes (r = -0.0643, p-value =
from the YMCA test versus the QCT included all
0.869) and non-athlete men (r = -0.0932, p-value =
subjects, male subjects, female subjects, athletes,
0.881), which indicates a high indication of no
male athletes, non-athletes, male non-athletes, and
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Table #3: Percentile values for VO2max Overall, my results from QCT and the
YMCA QCT YMCA test did not correlate well to each
Subject Gender VO2max Percentile VO2max Percentile other (r=0.2010, p-value = 0.472). The data
(ml kg min
* -1 -

) value
1 (ml kg min value
* -1 -
collected from the study implies that is no
1 F 26.84 5 30.72 15 significant correlation between the YMCA
2 F 37.93 65 37.37 50 test and the QCT test and thus do not support
3 F 33.97 40 33.12 30
4 F 32.58 30 30.72 15 the office for all subjects, men, athletes, male
5 F 41.44 80 32.3 25 athletes, non-athletes, and male non-athletes.
6 M* 32.18 10 36.15 20 Men and non-athletes correlated the worst
7 M 37.68 20 42.87 40
(r=0.1968 and r=-.0643). For women,
8 M 31.8 5 37.41 20
9 M 32.84 5 52.11 80 however, the data correlated much better for
10 M 37.93 20 50.43 75 women (r=0.5287, p-value = 0.360) and
11 M 32.4 5 45.39 55 showed moderate correlation with non-
12 M 38.34 25 44.13 50
college athletes (r= 0.5956, p-value =
13 M 41.17 40 44.13 50
14 M 26.5 5 47.49 60 0.404) between the YMCA test and the QCT
15 M 40.74 35 50.43 75 test, and thus show some evidence
Mean: 34.96 40.98 supporting the hypothesis. Thus by
SD: 4.81 7.49
examining the data in this study, it is implied
significant correlation for men and non-athletes. that there is not a significant linear relationship
Small correlations were found for men (r = 0.1968, between the YMCA test and the QCT test for men.
p-value = 0.585) and for male athletes (r = -0.2659, Therefore, the data may suggest one of the
p-value = 0.665), which indicate no significant protocols may not be the most accurate estimation
correlation between the YMCA test and QCT for of VO2max.
men and male athletes. For women, slight to
However, regardless what the data implies,
moderate correlations were found (r = 0.5287, p-
there is reasoning to suggest the data in this study
value = 0.360), which indicate some significance
are men is inaccurate. The reasoning behind this is
between both tests for women. For female non-
research showing the reliability of both the YMCA
athletes, Moderate correlations found for female
Submaximal Cycle Ergometer Test and Queens
non-college athletes (r = 0.5956, p-value = 0.404),
College Step Test, the lack of subjects (n<30) and
which indicate mild significance between the
suspected inaccurate percentile ranking in the
YMCA test and QCT for female athletes.
YMCA. The suspected inaccurate percentile
ranking for men is clear when examining the
percentile for men. The fact that there is not one
percentile value in the 40th percentile for active
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college aged men is on realistic, especially since Therefore, the results of my study have more
five of the men are athletes. As for the lack of validity in reference to correlation of VO2max
subjects, since number of subjects is less than 30, it results between the YMCA Submaximal Cycle
lowers the significant of the research. Ergometer Test and Queens College Step Test.
Thus, in order to achieve the results, their many
Finally, because of the research showing the
areas for further study. First of all, increasing the
reliability of the YMCA test and QCT, it therefore
number of subjects (n>30 for both men and women)
lessons the reliability of the data in this study for
will increase the significant of the research.
men and may increase the reliability for women. In
Secondly, by running a grated exercise test to find
Zwiren et al, 1991 from the Research Quarterly for
VO2max, it will allow the possibility to compare its
Exercise and Sport, a study was conducted with 40
results to the submaximal tests. Thirdly, I could run
healthy women and QCT. It found the Queen’s
more submaximal VO2 tests and have the ability to
college step test had the lowest correlation with a
run more correlation data. Finally, by incorporating
graded exercise test (r = 0.55), when compared to 2
a familiarization trial, I may be able to improve my
run and walk tests. It also cited other studies that
found low correlation between step tests estimations
and measured VO2max. In summary, their results Appendix:
show some validity to the QCT, as well as give
Figure #4
reason why to my correlation for women was R =
0.528 between the YMCA and QCT. In Chatterjee
et al, 2004 from the British Journal of Sports
Medicine, a study was conducted with 30 sedentary
men dealing with the QCT. It found a significant
correlation between the prediction of VO2max by
the QCT and the direct measurement of VO2max
(r = 0.95). Thus, it showed that the QCT was a
good estimation of VO2max. Finally, Beekley et al,
2004 in the Research Quarterly of Exercise and
Sport conducted the study with 55 men and 47
women dealing with the YMCA test. For men, the
study showed a moderate correlation between the
YMCA test and VO2max (r=0.63). For women, the
study showed a high correlation between the Figure #5

YMCA test and VO2max (r=0.90).

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Figure #6 Acknowledgments:

I would like to thank the volunteer subjects

for their time, as well as Candice Conway and
Girish Rajkarnikar for their help as lab assistants.
Also, thank you to Professors Brent Jeffers and
Judy Pitzl for your time and considerations.

American College of Sports Medicine. (2008). ACSM's health-related physical fitness assessment manual.
Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

American College of Sports Medicine. (2006). ACSM's resource manual for guidelines for exercise testing and
prescription. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Beekley, M. D., Brechue, W. F., deHoyos, D. V., Garzaella, L., Werber-Zion, G., & Pollock, M. L. (2004).
Cross-Validation of the YMCA Submaximal Cycle Ergometer Test for Dick VO2max. Research Quarterly for
Exercise and Sport , 337-342.

Chatterjee, S., Chatterjee, P., Mukherjee, P., & Bandyopadhyay. (2004). Validity of Queen's College step test
for use with young Indian men. British Journal of Sports Medicine , 38, 289-291.

Monark Ergomedic 828E - Google product search. (2009). Retrieved April 27, 2009, from Google:

Plyometric boxes- Google product search. (2009). Retrieved April 27, 2009, from Google:
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Powers, S. K., & Howly, E. T. (2007). Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and
Performance. New York: Mc Graw Hill.

Zwiren, L. D., Freedson, P. S., Ward, A., Wilke, S., & Rippe, J. M. (1991). Estimation of VO2max: an
comparison analysis of five exercise tests. Research Quarterly of Exercise and Sport , 62, 73-78.