Sex and maturity status affected the validity of a submaximal cycle test in adolescents

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This study assessed the validity and reliability of the Ekblom-Bak (EB) submaximal cycle test in adolescents and identified any sex- or maturity-related factors for prediction errors.


We recruited 50 healthy subjects through a public announcement in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2016. The 27 boys and 23 girls were aged 10–15 years and in Tanner stages I–IV. They performed an EB test and incremental treadmill running test for direct measurement of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max).


The estimation error of VO2max was 0.09 L/min. The correlation (r) was 0.86, and the standard error of the estimate (SEE) was 0.29 L/min. The largest overestimation was seen in prepubertal boys (0.49 L/min). The best precision of the EB test was achieved when boys in Tanner stages I and II were re-calculated using the prediction equation developed for adult women. This yielded a mean difference of −0.05 L/min, r = 0.92 and SEE 0.23 L/min, in the entire sample. The prediction error was lowered in boys, but not girls, with increasing pubertal maturity.


The EB test was reasonably valid in adolescents, seemed to be related to sex and maturity status, and our findings support its use.

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