The Wingate Anaerobic test was developed in the 1970s to measure anaerobic power and capacity. Since then, it has perhaps become the one of the most recognised fitness tests in history. Over the years, many variations of this test have been developed to identify slightly different performances qualities, and to make it more suitable for varying populations. Importantly, the Wingate Anaerobic test has been repeatedly proven to be a valid and reliable predictor of anaerobic capacity and power.
What is the Wingate Anaerobic test?
The Wingate Anaerobic test is arguably one of the most famous laboratory fitness tests. It is commonly performed on a cycle ergometer, and is primarily used to measure an individual’s anaerobic capacity and anaerobic power outputs (1). In its simplest form, this test can be conducted using only a Monark or Bodyguard cycle ergometer and a stopwatch (2). As this test only requires the participant to cycle at maximal effort for 30-seconds, its simplicity and time-effectiveness means it is an extremely popular testing protocol. Though this test is predominantly performed on a cycle ergometer, it can also be performed on an arm crank ergometer.
Originally based on the Cumming’s test, this test was developed at the Wingate Institute in Israel during the early 1970s. Since then, it has undergone modifications, and has also been used as a basis to design newer tests of a similar nature (3), and other running-based protocols such as the Sprint Interval Test (4).
The Wingate test is capable of identifying two primary measures: 1) anaerobic capacity; and 2) anaerobic power outputs. These values are vital factors in sports which demand short-duration maximal efforts. As a result, this particular test may be a useful assessment tool for athletes who compete in sports of a similar nature.
Since its inception in the early 1970s, the Wingate test has undergone several variations as researchers attempt to diversify the uses and specificity of the test. These modifications include:
- Test Duration: Some researchers have extended the duration of the test from 30-sec to 60 (5), and even 120-sec (6) in order to increase the demand on the alactic and lactic anaerobic energy systems.
- Test Repetition: Typically the Wingate test is only performed once per testing session, however, researchers have experimented with the efficacy of repeated performances for training purposes. This research has demonstrated that repeating the Wingate test four, five, or even six times can increase aerobic power and capacity, in addition to maximal aerobic capacity (7; 8).
- Test Weight/ Workload: The original test weight used for the Wingate test, as mentioned above, is 7.5% of the participant’s body mass, or 0.075 kg per kg of body weight (9). This original workload was selected based on using young subjects, and not on adult or athletic populations. Consequently, researchers have manipulated the workload to make the results more representative of their chosen population (e.g. university rugby players or Olympic cyclists). Whilst Katch et al., (6) used workloads of 0.053, 0.067, and 0.080, others have gone as high as 0.098 kg per kg of body weight (10). Although the workload can, and has been altered, the Wingate test still uses the original test weight of 7.5% of body mass.
Procedure (How to conduct the test)
It is important to note that whenever fitness testing is performed, it must be done so in a consistent environment (i.e. facility), so that it is protected from varying weather types, and with a dependable surface that is not effected by wet or slippery conditions. If the environment is not consistent, the reliability of repeated tests at later dates can be substantially hindered and result in worthless data.
Before the start of the test, it is important to ensure you have the following items:
- Laboratory or testing room
- Cycle ergometer
- Computer and testing software (preferred, but not essential)
- Weighing scales
- Performance recording sheet
Figure 1 displays the test configuration for the Wingate test, this setup must be adhered to if accurate and reliable data is desired.
1. Calculate body mass (kg)
- Participant must be weighed in lightweight clothing with shoes and accessories removed.
2. Calculate the ‘test weight’ (kg)
- The ‘test weight’ is 7.5% of the participant’s body mass.
- Test weight (kg) = body weight in kg * 0.075
- Start cycling – The participant must cycle at 60rpm for 3-4 minutes at 60W (females) or 90W (males). In other words, all participants (male or female) should cycle at 60rpm, though females should cycle against a resistance of 1kg, and males with 1.5kg. Note: the basket typically weighs 1kg.
- Adding the test weight – Halfway through the warm-up, the participant should briefly stop cycling, the test administrator should then add the test weight. Once the weight has been added, the administrator should then raise the basket away from the flywheel so that the participant can continue cycling at 60rpm with no resistance.
- Warm-up sprint – With the resistance still raised above the flywheel, a 3-second countdown should begin. The subject must still pedal at 60rpm until the countdown is over. The test administrator should count down “3 – 2 – 1 – GO!“. On the ‘Go’ signal the administrator must lower the test weight basket and the participant must accelerate maximally from 60rpm to a maximal speed for approximately 3-seconds. After ~3 seconds – once the pedalling speed is high, the administrators should clearly shout “STOP” and should remove the test weight so that the athelet can continue cycling, without the test weight, for another minute or so.
4. After the warm-up
After the 4-minute warm-up is over, the subject should rest for two minutes before performing the sprint test.
Starting the test
- The participant should begin cycling at 60rpm for approximately 10-seconds with no weight.
- The test administrator should count down “3 – 2 – 1 – GO!”.
- On the “GO” signal, the administrator must lower the test weight basket and the participant should begin to accelerate maximally and try to maintain maximal speed throughout the entire 30-second test. Note: Test administrators must provide verbal encouragement through the test.
5. Ending the test
- The test administrator should countdown the final 3-seconds of the test “3 – 2 – 1 – STOP”. Once the test is over, some subjects may react to the previous exertion. To reduce any problems, the subjects must stay on the ergometer, cycling at 60-80rpm without any resistance, for at least 2-3 minutes. If the subject feels ill or goes quiet or pale, they should get off the bike and lie down with their feet resting on a chair. Note: never leave the participant alone after the test.
The following values are all commonly used during a Wingate Anaerobic test:
- Peak Power Output (PPO)
- Relative Peak Power Output (RPP)
- Anaerobic Fatigue/ Fatigue Index (AF)
- Anaerobic Capacity (AC)
How to: Calculate Peak Power Output
This should be calculated every 5-seconds of the test (providing a total of 6 PPO’s).
- PPO = force (kg) * distance (m) ÷ time (s)
- Distance = number of revolutions during the 5-seconds * distance per revolution (m)
Force is the weight added to the flywheel in kilograms. Time is measured in seconds or minutes (5 seconds or 0.0833 minutes). Distance is the number of revolutions multiplied by the distance per revolution (measured in meters).
Table 1 shows PPO norms for active young adults (11).
How to: Calculate Relative Power Output
This unit of measure allows for a fair comparison between participants of weights and sizes.
- RPP = peak power (W) ÷ body weight (kg)
Table 2 shows relative PPO norms for active young adults (11).
How to: Calculate Anaerobic Fatigue/Fatigue Index
Anaerobic fatigue shows the percentage of power lost from the beginning to end of the test.
- AF = ((peak power – lowest power) ÷ (peak power)) * 100
How to: Calculate Anaerobic Capacity
Anaerobic capacity is the total work completed during the test duration.
- AC = Sum of each 5 second PPO
When conducting the test there are several factors that need to be taking into consideration before you begin – some being:
- Stay seated – The individual should stay in the saddle throughout the test. Failure to do so should result in a retest.
- Individual effort – Sub-maximal efforts can result in inaccurate and meaningless scores.
- Circadian rhythms – circadian rhythms can significantly alter power outputs during a Wingate test.Current knowledge suggests that an early morning Wingate test will elicit significantly lower peak power values than a late afternoon or evening Wingate test (12).
- Sampling rate – the sampling rate can significantly affect to accuracy of peak and average power outputs. A Wingate test conducted with computer data feeds with higher sampling rates is shown to be more accurate than tests performed using a standard mechanical ergometer. For the most accurate results, a sampling rate of at least 5 Hz (0.2 seconds) is recommended (13).
Validity and Reliability
To determine the validity of a test, the test must be compared to a ‘gold standard’ protocol that is known to produce accurate and reliable results. However, there is no ‘gold standard’ protocol to measure anaerobic capacity or power (14). Instead the Wingate test has been compared with laboratory findings, sport performances, and sport specialty to verify its validity as a testing protocol, and the results of this research indicate that it is an accurate and validity indicator of these measures (2). Thus, the Wingate Anaerobic test can be used as a valid and reliable predictor of anaerobic capacity and power.
All information provided in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. We do not accept any responsible for the administration or provision of any testing conducted, whether that results in any positive or negative consequences. As an example, we do not take any responsibility for any injury or illness caused during any test administration. All information is provided on an as-is basis.
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