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To assess whether combining prior “priming” exercise with an all-out pacing strategy is more effective at improving oxygen-uptake (V̇O2) kinetics and cycling performance than either intervention administered independently.


Nine men completed target-work cycling performance trials using a self-paced or all-out pacing strategy with or without prior severe-intensity (70%Δ) priming exercise. Breath-by-breath pulmonary V̇O2 and cycling power output were measured during all trials.


Compared with the self-paced unprimed control trial (22 ± 5 s), the V̇O2 mean response time (MRT) was shorter (V̇O2 kinetics were faster) with all-out pacing (17 ± 4 s) and priming (17 ± 3 s), with the lowest V̇O2 MRT observed when all-out pacing and priming were combined (15 ± 4 s) (P < .05). However, total O2 consumed and end-exercise V̇O2 were only higher than the control condition in the primed trials (P < .05). Similarly, cycling performance was improved compared with control (98 ± 11 s) in the self-paced primed (93 ± 8 s) and all-out primed (92 ± 8 s) trials (P < .05) but not the all-out unprimed trial (97 ± 5 s; P > .05).


These findings suggest that combining an all-out start with severe-intensity priming exercise additively improves V̇O2 MRT but not total O2 consumption and cycling performance since these were improved by a similar magnitude in both primed trials relative to the self-paced unprimed control condition. Therefore, these results support the use of priming exercise as a precompetition intervention to improve oxidative metabolism and performance during short-duration high-intensity cycling exercise, independent of the pacing strategy adopted.

Bailey, Vanhatalo, Black, and Jones are with the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Devon, UK. DiMenna is with the Dept of Biobehavioral Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY.

Address author correspondence to Stephen Bailey at