What is the Wingate Anaerobic Test?

Developed in the 1970s in Israel (Bar-Or, Dotan & Inbar, 1977), the Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT), also known as the Wingate Test and Wingate Protocol, measures (Bar-Or, 1987; Cooper et al., 2004):

  • Lower-body peak power;
  • Anaerobic capacity; and
  • The reduction of power, known as fatigue index (FD).

The WAnT, usually on a cycle ergometer, is conducted as follows:

  • It is a 30-second all-out exhaustive (at an intensity of over 90% of maximal oxygen uptake, also known as 90% of VO2 max) ergometry test where the athlete pedals against a resistance that is set at a certain percentage of their body weight.
  • The power output is measured throughout the test by the number of revolutions the athlete can achieve on the ergometer during those 30 seconds.
  • The peak power recorded is the maximal power output achieved for 5 seconds of the test, usually the first 5 seconds.
  • The anaerobic capacity, or average power, is recorded and averaged over the entire 30 seconds of the test.
  • The lowest power output is an average of the lowest 5 seconds seen during the test, usually the last 5 seconds.
  • Finally, the difference in power output from highest to lowest is recorded as the FI.

Each 30 seconds of cycling at maximum effort is separated by 4 minutes of recovery, repeated 4-6 times per session, with three sessions per week (Bar-Or, Dotan & Inbar, 1977; Boutcher, 2011). This results in only 2-3 minutes of exercise at maximum intensity and 15-25 minutes of low intensity exercise per session, making it a time efficient method of exercise. The ability to evaluate these measurements makes the WAnT a valuable test for coaches, athletes, and research scientists.

Two major energy sources are required during the WAnT (Wilmore & Costil, 2004):

  • The first is the adenosine triphosphate-phosphocreatine (ATP-PCr) system, which lasts for 3 to 15 seconds during maximum effort.
  • The second system is anaerobic glycolysis, which can be sustained for the remainder of the all-out effort.

Thus, the WAnT measures the muscles’ ability to work using both the ATP-PCr and glycolytic systems. Many sports (including football, sprinting, football, baseball, lacrosse and gymnastics) use anaerobic metabolism extensively during competition.

Less demanding protocols may be utilised for sedentary, overweight populations, which is important to remember when considering exercise as prevention and management of cardiovascular and metabolic disease.

You find out more about interval training, its derivatives, variables and history here.

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