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Balke Treadmill Test

Testing and measurement are the means of collecting information upon which subsequent performance evaluations and decisions are made . Still in the analysis, we need to bear in mind the factors that may influence the results.


To monitor the development of the athlete's general endurance (VO2 max). It was initially developed by Hanson (1984)[1] to determine VO2 max in cardiac patients. The test has been used in a study of the physical fitness of Air Force personnel. (Balke & Ware 1959)[4]

Required Resources

To conduct this test, you will require:

  • Treadmill
  • Stopwatch
  • Assistant

How to conduct the test

This test requires the athlete to run for as long as possible on a treadmill whose slope increments at timed intervals.

  • The athlete warms up for 10 minutes
  • The slope of the treadmill is set to 0%, for active and sedentary men the speed is set to 3.3 mph (5.3 km/hr) and for active and sedentary women 3.0 mph (4.5 km/hr)
  • The assistant gives the command “GO”, starts the stopwatch, and the athlete commences the test
  • The assistant adjusts the treadmill slope at the appropriate times as follows:
    • For active and sedentary men, the slope is set to 2% (1.2°) after 1 minute, and then every minute after that the slope is increased by 1% (0.6°)
    • For active and sedentary women, the slope is increased by 2.5% (1.4°) every 3 minutes
  • The assistant stops the stopwatch when the athlete is unable to continue and records the time - this ideally should be between 9 and 15 minutes

Converting from Percent Grade to Degrees

To determine the elevation angle of a 15% grade, you find the inverse tangent (Arctan) of 15 ÷ 100 (0.15), which is 8.5°.

If the slope is 10°, you determine the tangent of that angle, which is 0.176, x 100 to give a 17.6% grade.

Enter a value, select the parameter (degrees or per cent) and then select the "Calculate" button.



Active and sedentary men - (Pollock et al. 1976)[2]

From the total time, an estimate of the athlete's VO2 max can be calculated as follows:

  • VO2 max = 1.444 × T +14.99

"T" is the total time of the test expressed in minutes and fractions of a minute, e.g. 13 minutes 15 seconds = 13.25 minutes

Active and sedentary women - (Pollock et al. 1982)[3]

From the total time, an estimate of the athlete's VO2 max can be calculated as follows:

  • VO2 max = 1.38 × T + 5.22

"T" is the total time of the test expressed in minutes and fractions of a minute.

For an estimate of your VO2 max, using the above equations, enter the test's duration and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Time minutes  
Active and sedentary men mls/kg/min ±2.5 mls/kg/min
Active and sedentary women mls/kg/min ±2.2 mls/kg/min

For an analysis of your VO2 max score see the VO2 max page.


Analysis of the test result is by comparing it with the athlete's previous results for this test. It is expected that, with appropriate training between each test, the analysis would indicate an improvement in the athlete's VO2 max.

Target Group

This test is suitable for active and sedentary individuals but not for those where the test would be contraindicated.


Test reliability refers to the degree to which a test is consistent and stable in measuring what it is intended to measure. Reliability will depend upon how strict the test is conducted and the individual's level of motivation to perform the test. The following link provides various factors that may influence the results and therefore, the test reliability.


Test validity refers to the degree to which the test measures what it claims to measure and the extent to which inferences, conclusions, and decisions made based on test scores are appropriate and meaningful. This test provides a means to monitor the effect of training on the athlete's physical development. There are published VO2 max tables, and the correlation to actual VO2 max is high. For an assessment of your VO2 max see the VO2 max normative data tables.


  • Minimal equipment required
  • Simple to set up and conduct


  • Specialist equipment required - treadmill
  • Assistant required to administer the test

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  1. HANSON, P. (1984) Clinical Exercise Training. Sport Medicine, p. 13-40
  2. POLLECK et al. (1976) Physiological response of med 49-65 years of age to endurance training. Journal of the American Geriatric Society 24, p. 97-104
  3. POLLOCK et al. (1982) Comparative analysis of physiologic responses to three different maximal graded exercise test protocols in healthy women. American Heart Journal, 103 (3), p. 363-373
  4. BALKE, B. WARE, R.W. (1959) An experimental study of physical fitness of Air Force personnel. U.S. Armed Forces Med J, 10:675

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2003) Balke Treadmill Test [WWW] Available from: [Accessed