There are numerous guidelines, position stands and papers regarding administration and safety for aerobic fitness testing. However, there is very little in the way of preparation and administration of anaerobic tests. It is important to note that anaerobic tests are of a maximal nature, and the risk of injury or complications is greatly increased. Therefore, it is recommended that only well trained clients perform this type of testing. In addition to the safety guidelines presented in this article, please refer to my article "Preparation for Aerobic Fitness Testing."
Prior to Testing
As with any type of test preparation, it is important to fully inform clients as to what is expected and how to best prepare for anaerobic testing. A complete list and orientation to the test should be done three to four days in advance. However, this will not be done to a maximal level. This orientation helps to address questions, nervousness and any learning effect.
The following instructions should be sent to the client at least two or more days in advance:
- Get six to eight hours of sleep the night before the test.
- Drink plenty of fluids during the 24-hour period before the test.
- Refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol 24-hour prior to the test.
- Do not engage in strenuous physical activity the day before or the day of the test.
- Refrain from eating and drinking caffeine for three hours prior to the test.
- Wear athletic clothing, socks and athletic shoes.
- The client should exercise for about five minutes before the test.
- The intensity should be sufficient to raise the heart rate to about 150 beats per minute.
- Perform several bouts (four to five) of sprinting exercise of moderate intensity lasting about eight to 10 seconds each.
- A five-minute rest interval should then be given before the test – stretching exercises of the muscles to be utilized should be performed.
Because these tests are of maximal effort, it is very important to look for the following signs. If any of these signs occur, you should immediately terminate the test and begin an active recovery.
- Client asks to stop.
- Physical or verbal manifestations of severe fatigue.
- Onset of angina like symptoms.
- Signs of poor perfusion (light-headed, confusion, skin discoloration, nausea, cold/clammy skin).
- Heart Rate. Typically, most anaerobic tests are too short (less than 30 seconds) to adequately respond to the exercise intensity. In addition, the subject is often moving away from the tester, and heart rates cannot be monitored. Therefore, monitoring the heart rate is limited to tests that are 90 seconds or longer in a stationary position. For the long duration tests, look for failure of HR to rise with exercise.
- Other. Equipment failure.
When clients have finished the exercise test, you should use active recovery for at least five minutes. The recovery should be light but continuous. Upon completion of the active portion, have clients sit while you monitor them every one to two minutes for at least six minutes. Signs to look for include:
- Signs of discomfort
- Skin discoloration
- Cold/clammy skin
- Heart Rate. Heart rate not reducing and becoming stable
- Blood Pressure. Blood pressure not stabilizing
Before clients can leave the testing area, their heart rate must be less than 100 beats per minute, systolic blood pressure less than 145 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure less than 95 mmHg.
In conclusion, it is essential that the personal trainer is diligent in monitoring their clients whenever performing this type of testing.
- Bouchard, C., Taylor, A.W., Simoneau, J. and Dulac. (1991). Testing anaerobic power and capacity. In: Physiological testing of the high-performance athlete. MacDougall, J.D., Wenger, H.A. and Green, H.J. editors. Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL.
- Dreger, R.W. "Preparation for Aerobic Fitness Testing." Personal Training on the Net. April 2006.