Treadmill tests for maximal oxygen uptake (O2max) have traditionally used set speed and incline increments regardless of participants training or exercise background. The aim of this study was to determine the validity of a novel athlete-led protocol for determining maximal aerobic fitness in adults. Twenty-nine participants (21 male, 8 female, age 29.8 ± 9.5 y, BMI 24.4 ± 3.1, mean ± SD) from a variety of exercise backgrounds were asked to complete two maximal treadmill running tests (using the standard Bruce or a novel athlete-led protocol [ALP]) to volitional failure in a counter-balanced randomised cross-over trial one week apart. We found no substantial difference in maximal oxygen uptake (47.0 ± 9.1 and 46.8 ± 10.7 ml.kg-1.min-1, mean ± SD for the ALP and Bruce protocols respectively), evidenced by the Spearman correlation coefficient of 0.93 (90% confidence limits, 0.88-0.96). However, compared to the Bruce protocol, participants completing the ALP protocol attained a substantially higher maximal heart rate (ALP = 182.8 ± 10.5, Bruce = 179.7 ± 8.7 beats.min-1). Additionally, using the Bruce protocol took a longer period of time (23.2 ± 17.0 s) compared to the ALP protocol. It seems that using either treadmill protocol will give you similar maximal oxygen uptake results. We suggest the ALP protocol which is simpler, quicker and probably better at achieving maximal heart rates is a useful alternative to the traditional Bruce protocol.