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Bruce Treadmill Test

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


The objective of the Bruce Treadmill Test (Bruce 1972)[1] is to monitor the development of the athlete's general endurance (VO2 max).

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 speed and slope increments at timed intervals.
  • The athlete warms up for 10 minutes
  • The assistant sets the treadmill up with a speed of 2.74 km/hr. and an incline of 10% (Stage 1)
  • The assistant gives the command “GO”, starts the stopwatch, and the athlete commences the test
  • The assistant, at the appropriate times during the test, adjusts the treadmill's speed and slope as per the table (e.g. after 3 minutes the speed is adjusted to 4.02 km/hr and the slope to 12% and so on)
  • The assistant stops the stopwatch when the athlete cannot continue and records the time (T).
Stage Time (min) km/hr Incline
1 0 2.74 10%
2 3 4.02 12%
3 6 5.47 14%
4 9 6.76 16%
5 12 8.05 18%
6 15 8.85 20%
7 18 9.65 22%
8 21 10.46 24%
9 24 11.26 26%
10 27 12.07 28%

Converting from Percent Grade to Degrees

To determine the angle of elevation of a 15% incline, you find the inverse tangent (Arctan) of 15 ÷ 100 (0.15), 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 - (Foster et al. 1984)[2]

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

  • VO2 max = 14.8 - (1.379 × T) + (0.451 × T²) - (0.012 × T³)

"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 walk/run time, an estimate of the athlete's VO2 max can be calculated as follows:

  • VO2 max = (4.38 × T) - 3.9

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

For an estimate of your VO2 max, enter the run's duration and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Time minutes seconds
Active and sedentary men mls/kg/min (±3.35)
Active and sedentary women mls/kg/min (±2.7)

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 how 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
  • Assistant required to administer the test

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  1. BRUCE, R.A. (1972) Multi-stage treadmill test of maximal and sub maximal exercise. Exercise Testing and Training of apparently Health Individuals: A handbook for physicians
  2. FOSTER et al. (1984) Generalized equations for predicting functional capacity from treadmill performance. American Heart Journal, 107 (6), p. 1229-1234
  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

Page Reference

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

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2002) Bruce Treadmill Test [WWW] Available from: [Accessed