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Anaerobic Training & the Wingate Test

author image Jonathan Thompson
Jonathan Thompson is a personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise and has extensive experience working with clients as well as teaching. Thompson holds specializations in longevity nutrition and muscle management for runners. He began writing in 2004.
Anaerobic Training & the Wingate Test
A woman is weight training in the gym. Photo Credit: sylv1rob1/iStock/Getty Images

Exercise is typically divided into either aerobic or anaerobic categories. During aerobic respiration, the body uses oxygen as the main fuel source. This form of exercise lasts longer than two minutes and is associated with weight loss and endurance training. Anaerobic training, however, is characterized by short bursts of power and is used to increase muscles mass and strength. One of the most popular and definitive tests to determine anaerobic power is the Wingate test.

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Anaerobic training

Anaerobic training refers to any form of exercise which is at a near maximal intensity during which the body can no longer process oxygen for fuel fast enough to meet the demands of the muscles. These exercises are brief, lasting no longer than two minutes, and utilize a fuel stored in the muscles called Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, along with lactic acid. Eventually ATP stores will be exhausted and the muscles will fatigue due to the buildup of lactic acid. This point of exhaustion is the anaerobic threshold and can be improved with training. Anaerobic training can improve speed, power and overall muscle mass.

Wingate Test Procedure

The Wingate Test was developed during the 1970s at the Wingate Institute in Israel. The test requires the subject to operate either a bicycle or arm ergometer at full exertion for 30 seconds against a mechanical brake. The test begins with no resistance, and the brake applied within three seconds. The amount of resistance used is relative to the body weight of the athlete and can vary from either .045 kilograms to .075 kilograms per kilogram of body weight. A specialized counter on the ergometer records the number of rotations in five second intervals.


The findings of the Wingate Test measure the peak anaerobic power, anaerobic capacity and anaerobic fatigue of the subject. Peak anaerobic power is the highest measure of force generated during any of the five second intervals and is expressed in terms of watts. Anaerobic capacity is the sum of all of the five second intervals and represents the total amount of work accomplished during the test. Anaerobic fatigue is the percentage of decline in power. These figures can give an athlete insight into their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to adjust their training program.


In addition to adapting the amount of resistance for more athletic individuals, several variations of the Wingate test have been created to suit different needs. An arm ergometer can be used to measure upper-body strength and endurance. Because the Wingate test procedure and equipment is focused towards cyclists, the running-based Anaerobic Sprint Test has been developed to provide similar results for runners.

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