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Anaerobic Threshold Testing for Runners: The Conconi Test

Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist and a lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

Test your anaerobic threshold to improve your running performance.

Test your anaerobic threshold to improve your running performance.

Allowing Structured Running Event Training Based on Heart Rate

The Conconi test is a relatively simple way for runners to test and analyze their anaerobic threshold. The test takes its name from the Italian exercise physiologist Francesco Conconi and was initially developed for cyclists to test performance. However, it can be adapted to analyze lactate threshold levels in distance runners.

The Simplicity of the Conconi Test

Many runners, whether they focus on local 10 km runs or specialize in marathon running, do not have access to a sophisticated laboratory environment and a team of sports scientists to test their performance. The Conconi test negates the need for a laboratory environment.

To test your anaerobic threshold you will need

  1. A treadmill with the ability to control running speed.
  2. A heart rate monitor watch and strap.
  3. An assistant/willing partner to record test values and be prepared if you have any problems.

If you are performing this test in the gym it is recommended to notify the management/on-site fitness instructor to ensure that they are aware of what you are doing.

How to Perform the Test and Assess Your Anaerobic Threshold

Please Note: Always perform a thorough warm up of around 20 minutes prior to performing this test.

  1. Start the stopwatch and your heart rate monitor and run steadily at a speed which feels easy to you. For instance 8 km per hour (5 miles per hour) to begin with.
  2. At the end of 2 minutes of running your partner must now make a note of your heart rate and ask you to raise the speed by 0.5 km/ hour or 0.5 miles per hour depending on the treadmill display.
  3. Repeat step 2 continuously.
  4. Continue the test until your heart rate no longer reacts dramatically to changes in speed, you feel you have passed over your anaerobic threshold and you no longer feel that you can respond to the change in pace on the treadmill.

You should now have some results that look like the below:

Example Anaerobic Test Results

MinuteSpeed (mph)Heartrate (bpm)

2

5

120

4

5.5

124

6

6

129

8

6.5

133

10

7

139

12

7.5

145

14

8

149

16

8.5

153

18

9

158

20

9.5

161

22

10

163

24

10.5

165

26

11

166

28

11.5

167

 

 

 

Calculating Anaerobic Threshold Heart Rate From the Above Data

Working out your anaerobic threshold heart rate from the data is pretty straightforward.

Plot a scatter-type graph of heart rate against time

Your heart rate initially should follow a linear progression and then offshoot at the point where you reach your anaerobic threshold as per the graphical plot below. This deflection point denotes your anaerobic threshold heart rate.

Scroll to Continue
Looking for your anaerobic threshold heart rate—the deflection point on the graph.

Looking for your anaerobic threshold heart rate—the deflection point on the graph.

Be Aware This Test Only Measures Anaerobic Threshold for Running

Triathletes should consider performing the test on separate occasions—one day for running and one day for cycling after adequate rest.

Cyclists and Triathletes can consider using the Conconi Test for Cyclists

How often should you perform an Anaerobic Threshold test?

Consider performing a test like this on a monthly/ bi-monthly basis which will allow you to analyze changes in your exercise physiology as a result of your training. Ideally, perform the test within an easy training week and get plenty of rest before and after the test to ensure you are fresh for the test to obtain a reliable result and recover adequately for your next workout.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

surewaytohealth on March 17, 2017:

Lots of useful information in this post!

mikeydcarroll67 on January 11, 2012:

You're welcome! It really does add to the clarity of the topic.

Liam Hallam (author) from Nottingham UK on January 11, 2012:

Thanks Mike glad you liked. The stats seems like a simple addition to add some clarity to the information the test participant should be seeing- thanks for the feedback.

mikeydcarroll67 on January 11, 2012:

Wow great guide! I totally like how you incorporated the stats and stuff into your hub!

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