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Intermittent vs. Continuous Tests for Evaluating Aerobic Fitness

Evaluating aerobic fitness through intermittent or continuous testing lets you know how much, if any, progress you are making in getting fit or maintaining fitness. Aerobic fitness, also called cardiovascular fitness, is having the ability to exercise for long periods without getting tired. Your aerobic fitness level determines by how much oxygen is flowing to the muscles, as well as how efficient the muscles are using that oxygen. One way of having your fitness level measured is to go to the gym and speak with a trained aerobics instructor; this is somewhat pricey though. A test called the 3-minute step test will measure how fast your heart rate lowers after the exercise.

You probably have the tools you need at home to perform these test. These tools include a 12-inch step or bench, and a stopwatch or clock with a second hand. Cardiovascular fitness tests divide into two groups, consisting of either maximal or submaximal test groups. The maximal tests are for those who are young adults to middle-aged adults, and those not considered obese. The submaximal tests the obese, unfit or older people; these tests are less demanding for these groups of people. The maximal, as well as the submaximal test, divide into two groups of test that include continuous and intermittent test.

Maximal Aerobic Test

These groups test a person by stressing the body with exercise to the point of exhaustion. You will need a trained professional, and about an hour of time. Performed on either a treadmill or a bicycle, your heart rate is monitored with the use of electrodes and your oxygen intake is measured with the use of a clip on the nose. Your maximum heart rate records at the point where the body starts to rely upon its anaerobic energy system. These tests use both the continuous and intermittent testing methods.

Continuous to Exhaustion Test

This group of test includes exercises like 20 meter Shuttle Run Test (beep, bleep), Maximal Oxygen Consumption Test (V02max), YO-YO endurance test and Balke Treadmill Test to name a few.

Intermittent Test

This group of tests includes exercises like Yo-Yo, J.A.M., the 30 – 15 (Interval Shuttle Run Test), half mile walk, one mile Rockport Walk Test and the 12 minute Cooper test.

Sub-Maximal Aerobic Test

These groups test the fitness of people with health problems, recreational athletes or those with a low fitness level. Sub maximal only allows the body to work below maximum capacity, only to a certain point and is usually performed on a treadmill or bicycle Ergometer. Some sub-maximal exercises include Yo-Yo, Astrand-Rhyming Cycle Ergometer, 30 – 15 IFT and the 12-minute Cooper test.

These groups of tests allow you to evaluate what kind of shape your heart is in, as well as how well your lungs are performing. Depending on the test subjects’ condition, these tests are done either continuous or intermittent. Sub-Maximal test usually only take about 10-minutes and the cost are considerably lower.

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