Effect of Recovery Interventions on Cycling Performance and Pacing Strategy in the Heat

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

To determine the effect of active recovery (AR), passive rest (PR), and cold-water immersion (CWI) after 90 min of intensive cycling on a subsequent 12-min time trial (TT2) and the applied pacing strategy in TT2.

Methods:

After a maximal test and familiarization trial, 9 trained male subjects (age 22 ± 3 y, VO2max 62.1 ± 5.3 mL · min−1 · kg−1) performed 3 experimental trials in the heat (30°C). Each trial consisted of 2 exercise tasks separated by 1 h. The first was a 60-min constant-load trial at 55% of the maximal power output followed by a 30-min time trial (TT1). The second comprised a 12-min simulated time trial (TT2). After TT1, AR, PR, or CWI was applied for 15 min.

Results:

No significant TT2 performance differences were observed, but a 1-sample t test (within each condition) revealed different pacing strategies during TT2. CWI resulted in an even pacing strategy, while AR and PR resulted in a gradual decline of power output after the onset of TT2 (P ≤ .046). During recovery, AR and CWI showed a trend toward faster blood lactate ([BLa]) removal, but during TT2 significantly higher [BLa] was only observed after CWI compared with PR (P = .011).

Conclusion:

The pacing strategy during subsequent cycling performance in the heat is influenced by the application of different postexercise recovery interventions. Although power was not significantly altered between groups, CWI enabled a differently shaped power profile, likely due to decreased thermal strain.

The authors are with the Dept of Human Physiology and Sports Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.