Body composition athletes seem to be divided into two camps when it comes to cardio. There is the slow cardio on an empty stomach first thing in the AM, and then the high intensity interval cardio. Both methods have proven successful for many people, and the difference between them often sparks interesting debate. At times, it seems like these are the two, “the only two” options at your disposal for cardio, maybe with the exception of jogging. However, if making a Dorian Yates analogy between cardio and weightlifting, surely there has to be a brutal no holds barred one all out set version of cardio. Enter the Wingate Test.

Most exercise science majors are probably familiar with it. It’s bad. It’s one, all-out 30-second bout on a cycle ergometer (a bike) against a pre-calculated resistance load. I myself did this at a time when I was accustomed to HIIT. It turned my skin blue, set my quads on fire along with tremendous pain leaving my body temporarily paralyzed, left me nauseated and put me on my back for a half hour. These results are not uncommon in an exercise physiology lab. As roughly stated in the video below, a highly trained athlete might be able to shake it off in a couple of minutes and try again. All in all, the test is designed to leave you totally exhausted and essentially take you to the cardio version of failure within a 30-second bout.

According to the source below, this test originated at The Wingate Institute in Israel sometime during the 1970’s. The major three things it tests are peak anaerobic power, anaerobic fatigue and total anaerobic capacity (see below). Due to the training variables and level of exhaustion occurring within one 30 second bout, our anaerobic energy producing pathways are being targeted, especially the ATP and phosphocreatine systems. These are the systems that get jacked up when we supplement with creatine monohydrate, accompanied with the enhancement many of us can see and feel. The author writes:

Peak anaerobic power represents the highest mechanical power generated during any 3-5 second interval of the test…”


Finally, conducting the test is simple, yet impossible without at least a second person to operate the bike and resistance. It will be difficult to find equipment that can allow you to train these energy systems in a conventional gym. A cycle ergometer, such as The Fleisch Ergometer, is utilized. The tester cues the athlete to begin pedaling all out against zero resistance, and within a few seconds, the tester applies a pre-calculated load to the flywheel which is held constant for the duration of the test as the athlete pedals all out for 30 seconds. For the resistance, 1.0-1.3 kg per kg of body weight is often implemented.  (see video below)

The Wingate Test is interesting to ponder. One all-out 30-second bout of cardio leaving one totally annihilated is rarely observed in conventional gyms, or discussed as strategies among bodybuilders or powerlifters. It could be useful to know how regularly implementing this test (or regularly training this attribute) could affect lean mass and body composition over a long duration of time. A major challenge is the limitation of gym equipment in most conventional gyms, and of course, the blood and guts that the athlete must bring to the table when performing the training. Overall, this topic is noteworthy, due to the fact that it is so fundamental and basic, yet very rarely discussed. To help get a picture of this exercise or test, check out the video of the Wisconsin hockey team below.

If you are interested in further reading on the topic, there is a second link below. It is a study which set out to determine the relationship between body fat percentage, VO2 peak and power output during repeated bouts of The Wingate Test. What might be useful in the future, is to analyze the effect of regularly implementing this test to observe changes in performance and body composition over time, rather than comparing groups with different body compositions in just one snapshot of time. Comparing body composition with power output might be of most interest. For instance, taken from the abstract of the study:

“Body Fat Percentage was correlated with measures of power performance (strongest relationships existing in the earlier bouts), but is not strongly correlated with either the heart rate response to power performance or the change in performance over successive bouts.”




Dan Manson is a dual degree student at The Ohio State University and an ACE certified personal trainer.  He has completed his biochemistry degree and is finishing his second degree in human nutrition/dietetics.  Prior to his experience at OSU, Dan successfully completed three quarters of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Ohio University.  He made the change in career paths based on his very strong interest in the sciences, and the impact he strives to make on others in the area of nutrition.  Special hobbies and interests include:  diabetes, cancer, metabolism, nutrition, coffee, tea, wine, exercise training physiology.