Peak oxygen uptake measured during a perceptually-regulated exercise test is reliable in community-based manual wheelchair users

This study aimed to compare test-retest reliability and peak exercise responses from ramp-incremented (RAMP) and maximal perceptually-regulated (PRETmax) exercise tests during arm crank exercise in individuals reliant on manual wheelchair propulsion (MWP). Ten untrained participants (9 male) completed four trials over a 2-week period, performing two RAMP (0-40 W + 5-10 W·min-1) trials one week followed by two PRETmax trials the next, or vice versa. PRETmax consisted of five, 2-min stages performed at Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) 11, 13, 15, 17 and 20. Participants freely changed the power output to match the required RPE. Gas exchange variables, heart rate, power output, RPE and affect were determined throughout trials. The V̇ O2peak from RAMP (14.8 ± 5.5 ml·kg-1 ·min-1 ) and PRETmax (13.9 ± 5.2 ml·kg-1 ·min-1) trials were not different (P = 0.08). Measurement error was 1.7 and 2.2 ml·kg-1 ·min-1 and coefficient of variation 5.9% and 8.1% for measuring V̇ O2peak from RAMP and PRETmax, respectively. Affect was more positive at RPE 13 (P = 0.02), 15 (P = 0.01) and 17 (P = 0.01) during PRETmax. This study shows the PRETmax can be used to measure V̇ O2peak in participants reliant on MWP and leads to a more positive affective response compared to RAMP.