The Physiological, Neuromuscular, and Perceptual Response to Even- and Variable-Paced 10-km Cycling Time Trials

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Background: During self-paced (SP) time trials (TTs), cyclists show unconscious nonrandom variations in power output of up to 10% above and below average. It is unknown what the effects of variations in power output of this magnitude are on physiological, neuromuscular, and perceptual variables. Purpose: To describe physiological, neuromuscular, and perceptual responses of 10-km TTs with an imposed even-paced (EP) and variable-paced (VP) workload. Methods: Healthy male, trained, task-habituated cyclists (N = 9) completed three 10-km TTs. First, an SP TT was completed, the mean workload from which was used as the mean workload of the EP and VP TTs. The EP was performed with an imposed even workload, while VP was performed with imposed variations in workload of ±10% of the mean. In EP and VP, cardiorespiratory, neuromuscular, and perceptual variables were measured. Results: Mean rating of perceived exertion was significantly lower in VP (6.13 [1.16]) compared with EP (6.75 [1.24]), P = .014. No mean differences were found for cardiorespiratory and almost all neuromuscular variables. However, differences were found at individual kilometers corresponding to power-output differences between pacing strategies. Conclusion: Variations in power output during TTs of ±10%, simulating natural variations in power output that are present during SP TTs, evoke minor changes in cardiorespiratory and neuromuscular responses and mostly affect the perceptual response. Rating of perceived exertion is lower when simulating natural variations in power output, compared with EP cycling. The imposed variations in workload seem to provide a psychological rather than a physiological or neuromuscular advantage.

Veneman, Schallig, Foster, and de Koning are with the Dept of Human Movement Sciences, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Schallig is also with the Dept of Rehabilitation Medicine at the university. Veneman is also with Dept of Rehabilitation Medicine, Amsterdam UMC, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Eken is with the Div of Orthopedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Inst of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, South Africa. Foster and de Koning are also with the Dept of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA.

Veneman (t.veneman@amsterdamumc.nl) is corresponding author.
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