Treadmill Basics

Bruce Protocol Treadmill Test

Bruce Treadmill Protocol is a test used to monitor athletic performance in terms of building endurance and resistance levels. Dr. A. Bruce developed the original Bruce Protocol in 1963. The procedure was developed for a multi-level treadmill test to detect chest pain and discomfort in cardiac patients and to identify probable cases of heart attacks and/or ischaemic heart disease.   

This Bruce treadmill protocol test is used in cardiac stress testing and to test maximal endurance testing. In medical terminology such a test is called Exercise Tolerance Test or Exercise Stress Test.

In cases where a patient is afflicted with suspected heart problems, this test can be used as a non-invasive tool to ascertain if there are any abnormalities in the electrical “firing patterns” of the heart muscle.

This is a maximal test, which means that the subject must continue until he/she is completely exhausted. When the test is used for medical purposes, parameters like ECG, blood pressure etc. are used to predict the outcome.

The Bruce treadmill protocol is an indirect test. Direct tests use gas analyzers to measure gases breathed in and out. This test estimates the VO2 max using a set formula. VO2 max refers to the amount of oxygen a person can consume and utilize. It is measured by the volume of oxygen per minute per kilogram body weight per time (ml/kg/min).

This test is commonly used in US to determine and contrast athletic performance. It can be also used to test maximal endurance time in children.

To undertake this test, one requires a treadmill with provisions to adjust speed and incline, a stopwatch and an assistant. Often, a heart rate monitor and/or sphygmomanometer are also used.

The test begins at 10.7 per cent incline and at 1.7 mph speed. The workload is increased after every three minutes till the point where the test needs to be aborted or the subject reaches a set goal. A target heart rate or stage goals are the general test targets.

Some Necessary Precautions

The subject should not have eaten or smoked or consumed alcohol 2-3 hours before the test. He/she must maintain the desired level of hydration and wear comfortable clothing. The testing facility should be maintained at a temperature between 20 to 23 degree centigrade and humidity at 50 per cent.

The Bruce Protocol Test has become a standard procedure to evaluate and assess cardio vascular fitness of athletes. The reliability of its outcome depends on how stringently the test is conducted and the subject’s level of commitment to undertake the test.