Saturday, 22 Jun 2024

Balke Treadmill Test

The Balke Treadmill Test is a clinical test initially developed to determine peak VO2 in cardiac patients. However, it can also be used to estimate cardiovascular fitness in athletes. This test involves walking on a treadmill to exhaustion while the gradient/slope is increased every one or two minutes. It is important to note that there is another field test developed by Balke, known as the 15-minute run test, as well as the Balke Step Test.


The purpose of the Balke Treadmill Test is to determine peak VO2, particularly in cardiac patients.

Equipment Required

To perform this test, you will need a treadmill, a stopwatch, and an electrocardiograph (optional).


Before conducting the test, it is essential to explain the procedures to the subject and perform a screening of health risks. Obtain informed consent and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender, and test conditions. Prepare the necessary forms and measure out the course, placing marker cones. Lastly, ensure that the subject performs an appropriate warm-up.


During the test, the athlete walks on a treadmill at a constant speed while the gradient/slope is increased every one or two minutes. The assistant starts the stopwatch at the beginning of the test and stops it when the subject is unable to continue. There are variations of the Balke test that involve different treadmill speeds, time at each level, and/or increases in gradient.

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The test score is the time taken to complete the test, measured in minutes. Ideally, the test should take between 9-15 minutes. The test time can also be used to calculate an estimated VO2max score using specific formulas for men and women.

For men: VO2max = 1.444(T) + 14.99 [Pollock et al., 1976]
For women: VO2max = 1.38(T) + 5.22 [Pollock et al., 1982]

Target Population

The Balke test is recommended for cardiac patients due to its moderate elevation in workload, making it considered safe even for patients with severe left ventricular dysfunction.


One advantage of the Balke Treadmill Test is that it provides a measurement of maximum heart rate, which can be useful in setting workload intensity for training programs.


There are a few drawbacks to this test. It takes a relatively long time to set up and conduct compared to other aerobic tests. Additionally, there are high costs involved in terms of equipment and time.


It is important to note that the Balke Treadmill Test is a maximal test. If it is being used with recreational athletes, people with health problems, injuries, or low fitness levels, medical assistance should be available.


  • Hanson, P. (1984) Clinical Exercise Training. In: Sport Medicine. Ed: Strauss, R. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company. 13-40.

Similar Fitness Tests

  • Astrand
  • Naughton
  • Bruce protocols
  • VO2max test
  • Balke 15-minute run test for aerobic fitness
  • Balke Step Test

Related Pages

  • Stress Tests: A general description of exercise stress tests.
  • Other tests of aerobic capacity.
  • Fitness tests involving walking.
  • Heart rate measurement methods if heart rate measurement is also required.
  • Other fitness tests conducted on treadmills.
  • Ratings of Perceived Exertion Scale if you want to quantify effort.
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  • What is the purpose of the Balke Treadmill Test?
  • What equipment is required to perform the test?
  • How long does the test typically take?
  • Who is the target population for this test?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Balke Treadmill Test?


The Balke Treadmill Test is a valuable tool for determining peak VO2 in cardiac patients and estimating cardiovascular fitness in athletes. By walking on a treadmill to exhaustion while the gradient/slope increases, individuals can measure their fitness levels. The test score, measured in minutes, provides insight into an individual’s aerobic endurance. It is important to note the advantages and disadvantages of the test and exercise caution when conducting it with certain populations. Overall, the Balke Treadmill Test offers valuable information for both clinical and athletic settings, aiding in the assessment of cardiovascular fitness. For more information and to take advantage of this valuable test, visit the website.