Dec. 28, 2018


students and professors in the VO2 lab


MSU Billings professors offer VO2 testing to high school students

Shafer and Willardson offer students opportunity to complete “Bruce” protocol



University Communications and Marketing, 657-2266


MSU BILLINGS NEWS—Dr. Alex Shafer and Dr. Jeffrey Willardson, assistant professors of health and human performance at Montana State University Billings, recently tested the running performance of four Billings Senior High School cross country runners. The students were given the opportunity to participate in a VO2 max test in the Health and Human Performance lab at MSU Billings.


The VO2 max fitness characteristic, sometimes called maximal aerobic capacity, is an important health related fitness measure; it is a key variable that contributes to good performance for endurance athletes. The high school students were offered this opportunity by Shafer and Willardson after the two conducted testing on multiple MSU Billings and Rocky Mountain College cross country runners.


They reached out to Sarah Lord, cross country coach at Billings Senior High School, at the conclusion of the cross country season in the fall. Four of the top returning cross country runners (two girls and two boys) were selected to participate in the testing, on a voluntary basis.


Shafer and Willardson began the experience by instructing the runners about the “Bruce” protocol and how the equipment would be fitted around their heads with a mouthpiece to enable measurement of oxygen consumption. The students were able to engage in the experience by fitting the equipment to their teammates and then administering the protocol of the testing, similar to the way MSU Billings health and human performance students are taught in the lab, so all the runners had an educational experience. After each runner completed their test, they were given a customized print-out with their results. Shafer and Willardson then discussed the result of the testing in the context of the students’ training goals, and the test results were provided to Coach Lord.


“The Exercise Physiology Lab at MSU Billings has had some wonderful equipment additions in recent years,” explained Willardson, in relation to the opportunity to conduct testing. “The administration has been very generous in facilitating equipment purchases, and they are sincere in their desire to help professors provide a top-notch education for those in the health and human performance department. In the near future, with completion of the Yellowstone Science Building, the department will have even more to offer with new state-of-the-art exercise physiology and biomechanics laboratories.”


Shafer and Willardson would be happy to welcome other high school runners, as well as community members, to the lab for a VO2 max test. Several other tests can also be conducted in the lab for other fitness characteristics, such as: muscular strength, muscular power, anaerobic power, blood lactate, blood glucose, and urinalysis.


For more information, contact Dr. Jeffrey Willardson at 657-2927 or or Dr. Alex Shafer at 657-2377