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  • Author: Jesús G. Pallarés x
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José R. Lillo-Bevia and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: To validate the new drive indoor trainer Hammer designed by Cycleops®. Methods: A total of 11 cyclists performed 44 randomized and counterbalanced graded exercise tests (100–500 W) at 70-, 85-, and 100-rpm cadences in seated and standing positions on 3 different Hammer units, while a scientific SRM system continuously recorded cadence and power output data. Results: No significant differences were detected between the 3 Hammer devices and the SRM for any workload, cadence, or pedaling condition (P value between 1.00 and .350), except for some minor differences (P = .03 and .04) found in the Hammer 1 at low workloads and for Hammer 2 and 3 at high workloads, all in seated position. Strong intraclass correlation coefficients were found between the power output values recorded by the Hammers and the SRM (≥.996; P = .001), independently from the cadence condition and seated position. Bland–Altman analysis revealed low bias (−5.5 to 3.8) and low SD of bias (2.5–5.3) for all testing conditions, except marginal values found for the Hammer 1 at high cadences and seated position (9.6 [6.6]). High absolute reliability values were detected for the 3 Hammers (150–500 W; coefficient of variation <1.2%; SEM <2.1). Conclusions: This new Cycleops trainer is a valid and reliable device to drive and measure power output in cyclists, providing an alternative to larger and more expensive laboratory ergometers and allowing cyclists to use their own bicycles.

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Alejandro Martínez-Cava, Alejandro Hernández-Belmonte, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: To compare the strength and athletic adaptations induced by 4 programming models. Methods: Fifty-two men were allocated into 1 of the following models: linear programming (intensity increased while intraset volume decreased), undulating programming (intensity and intraset volume were varied in each session or set of sessions), reverse programming (intensity decreased while intraset volume increased), or constant programming (intensity and intraset volume kept constant throughout the training plan). All groups completed a 10-week resistance-training program made up of the free-weight bench press, squat, deadlift, prone bench pull, and shoulder press exercises. The 4 models used the same frequency (2 sessions per week), number of sets (3 per exercise), interset recoveries (4 min), and average intensity throughout the intervention (77.5%). The velocity-based method was used to accurately adjust the planned intensity for each model. Results: The 4 programming models exhibited significant pre–post changes in most strength variables analyzed. When considering the effect sizes for the 5 exercises trained, we observed that the undulating programming (mean effect size = 0.88–2.92) and constant programming (mean effect size = 0.61–1.65) models induced the highest and lowest strength enhancements, respectively. Moreover, the 4 programming models were found to be effective to improve performance during shorter (jump and sprint tests) and longer (upper- and lower-limb Wingate test) anaerobic tasks, with no significant differences between them. Conclusion: The linear, undulating, reverse, and constant programming models are similarly effective to improve strength and athletic performance when they are implemented in a real-context routine.

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Xabier Muriel, Javier Courel-Ibáñez, Victor Cerezuela-Espejo, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: The COVID-19 outbreak has challenged professional athletes’ training and competition routines in a way not seen before. This report aims to inform about the changes in training volume and intensity distribution and their effects on functional performance due to a 7-week home-confinement period in professional road cyclists from a Union Cycliste Internationale Pro Team. Methods: A total of 18 male professional cyclists (mean [SD] age = 24.9 [2.8] y, body mass = 66.5 [5.6] kg, maximal aerobic power = 449 [39] W; 6.8 [0.6] W/kg) were monitored during the 10 weeks before the lockdown (outdoor cycling) and the 7-week lockdown (indoor cycling turbo trainer). Data from the mean maximal power output (in watts per kilogram) produced during the best 5-minute and best 20-minute records and the training intensity distributions (weekly volumes at power-based training zones) were collected from WKO5 software. Results: Total training volume decreased 33.9% during the lockdown (P < .01). Weekly volumes by standardized zones (Z1 to Z6) declined between 25.8% and 52.2% (effect size from 0.83 to 1.57), except for Z2 (P = .38). There were large reductions in best 5-minute and best 20-minute performance (effect size > 1.36; P < .001) with losses between 1% and 19% in all the cyclists. Conclusions: Total indoor volumes of 12 hours per week, with 6 hours per week at low intensity (Z1 and Z2) and 2 hours per week at high intensity over the threshold (Z5 and Z6), were insufficient to maintain performance in elite road cyclists during the COVID-19 lockdown. Such performance declines should be considered to enable a safe and effective return to competition.

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Xabier Muriel, Pedro L. Valenzuela, Manuel Mateo-March, Jesús G. Pallarés, Alejandro Lucia, and David Barranco-Gil

Purpose: To compare the physical demands and performance indicators of male professional cyclists of 2 different categories (Union Cycliste Internationale WorldTour [WT] and ProTeam [PT]) during a cycling grand tour. Methods: A WT team (n = 8, 31.4 [5.4] y) and a PT team (n = 7, 26.9 [3.3] y) that completed “La Vuelta 2020” volunteered to participate. Participants’ power output (PO) was registered, and measures of physical demand and physiological performance (kilojoules spent, training stress score, time spent at different PO bands/zones, and mean maximal PO [MMP] for different exertion durations) were computed. Results: WT achieved a higher final individual position than PT (31 [interquartile range = 33] vs 71 [59], P = .004). WT cyclists showed higher mean PO and kilojoule values than their PT peers and spent more time at high-intensity PO values (>5.25 W·kg−1) and zones (91%–120% of individualized functional threshold power) (Ps < .05). Although no differences were found for MMP values in the overall analysis (P > .05), subanalyses revealed that the between-groups gap increased through the race, with WT cyclists reaching higher MMP values for ≥5-minute efforts in the second and third weeks (Ps < .05). Conclusions: Despite the multifactorial nature of cycling performance, WT cyclists spend more time at high intensities and show higher kilojoules and mean PO than their PT referents during a grand tour. Although the highest MMP values attained during the whole race might not differentiate between WT and PT cyclists, the former achieve higher MMP values as the race progresses.

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Alejandro Martínez-Cava, Alejandro Hernández-Belmonte, Javier Courel-Ibáñez, Elena Conesa-Ros, Ricardo Morán-Navarro, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: A variation of the traditional squat (SQ) rebound technique (REBOUND) including a momentary pause ∼2 seconds (PAUSE) between eccentric and concentric phases has been proposed. Although there is a consensus about the lower acute effects on performance of this PAUSE variant compared with traditional REBOUND technique, no information exists about the differences in longitudinal adaptations of these SQ executions. Methods: A total of 26 men were randomly assigned into the PAUSE (n = 13) or REBOUND (n = 13) groups and completed a 10-week velocity-based training using the SQ exercise, only differing in the technique. Neuromuscular adaptations were assessed by the changes in the 1-repetition maximum strength and mean propulsive velocity achieved against the absolute loads (in kilograms) common to pretest and posttest. Functional performance was evaluated by the following tests: countermovement jump, Wingate, and sprint time at 0 to 10, 10 to 20, and 0 to 20 m. Results: Whereas both groups showed significant increases in most of the neuromuscular tests (P < .05), the PAUSE (effect size [ES] = 0.76–1.12) presented greater enhancements than REBOUND (ES = 0.45–0.92). Although not significant, improvements in Wingate and sprint time at 0 to 10 and 0 to 20 m were higher for PAUSE (ES = 0.31–0.46) compared with REBOUND (ES = 0.10–0.29). Conversely, changes on countermovement jump and sprint time at 10 to 20 m were superior for REBOUND (ES = 0.17–0.88) than for PAUSE (ES = 0.09–0.75). Conclusion: Imposing a pause between eccentric and concentric phases in the SQ exercise could be an interesting strategy to increase neuromuscular and functional adaptations in sport actions that mainly depend on concentric contractions. Moreover, sport abilities highly dependent on the stretch-shortening cycle could benefit from the REBOUND or a combination of the 2 techniques.

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Pedro L. Valenzuela, Manuel Mateo-March, Mikel Zabala, Xabier Muriel, Alejandro Lucia, David Barranco-Gil, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: Ambient temperature affects endurance exercise performance. However, most research has been conducted in a laboratory-based setting, and whether there are sex-specific trends remains unclear. The present study aimed to analyze the influence of ambient temperature on cycling performance in male and female professional cyclists using field-based data collected during both training and racing. Methods: A total of 74 cyclists (48 male and 26 female; age 29 [5] y, 8 [5] y of experience in the professional category) were included in the analyses. We registered the participants’ record power profile using data from both training and competitions over 8 years (2013–2020; 8 [5] seasons per cyclist). We analyzed their mean maximal power (MMP) values attained for efforts lasting 5 seconds, 30 seconds, 5 minutes, and 20 minutes at ambient temperatures ranging from <5°C to >35°C. Results: A significant influence of ambient temperature on MMP values was found in male and female cyclists (P < .001 for both), with no significant differences between sexes (P = .512). Cyclists attained the highest MMP values at temperate conditions (10–30°C in males and 5–25°C in females), whereas an impairment in performance was found at colder and hotter temperatures, particularly for the more extreme conditions (performance impairment at <5°C and >35°C of −18% to −9% and −16% to −9%, respectively). Conclusions: Ambient temperature influences field-based cycling performance, following a reverse U-shaped relationship, with the highest MMP values attained in the range of ∼10°C to 25°C and with no major differences between sexes.

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Víctor Rodríguez-Rielves, Alejandro Martínez-Cava, Ángel Buendía-Romero, José Ramón Lillo-Beviá, Javier Courel-Ibáñez, Alejandro Hernández-Belmonte, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: To examine the reproducibility (intradevice and interdevice agreement) of the Rotor 2INpower device under a wide range of cycling conditions. Methods: Twelve highly trained male cyclists and triathletes completed 5 cycling tests, including graded exercise tests at different cadences (70–100 rpm), workloads (100–650 W), pedaling positions (seated and standing), and vibration conditions (20–40 Hz) and an 8-second maximal sprint (>1000 W). An intradevice analysis included a comparison between the power output registered by 3 units of Rotor 2INpower, whereas the power output provided by each one of these units and the gold-standard SRM crankset were compared for the interdevice analysis. Among others, statistical calculations included the standard error of measurement, expressed in absolute (in watts) and relative terms as the coefficient of variation (CV). Results: Except for the graded exercise test seated at 100 rpm/100 W (CV = 10.2%), the intradevice analysis showed an acceptable magnitude of error (CV ≤ 6.9%, standard error of measurement ≤ 12.3 W) between the 3 Rotor 2INpower. Similarly, these 3 units showed an acceptable agreement with the gold standard in all graded exercise test situations (CV ≤ 4.0%, standard error of measurement ≤ 13.1 W). On the other hand, both the intradevice and interdevice agreements proved to be slightly reduced under high cadences (intradevice: CV ≤ 10.2%; interdevice: CV ≤ 4.0%) and vibration (intradevice: CV ≤ 4.0%; interdevice: CV ≤ 3.6%), as well as during standing pedaling (intradevice: CV ≤ 4.1%; interdevice: CV ≤ 2.5%). Although within the limits of an acceptable agreement, measurement errors increased during the sprint tests (CV ≤ 7.4%). Conclusions: Based on these results, the Rotor 2INpower could be considered a reproducible tool to monitor power output in most cycling situations.

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Manuel Mateo-March, Pedro L. Valenzuela, Xabier Muriel, Alexis Gandia-Soriano, Mikel Zabala, Alejandro Lucia, Jesús G. Pallares, and David Barranco-Gil

Purpose: The present study aimed to determine the influence of fatigue on the record power profile of professional male cyclists. We also assessed whether fatigue could differently affect cyclists of 2 competition categories. Methods: We analyzed the record power profile in 112 professional cyclists (n = 46 and n = 66 in the ProTeam [PT] and WorldTour [WT] category, respectively; age 29 [6] y, 8 [5] y experience in the professional category) during 2013–2021 (8 [5] seasons/cyclist). We analyzed their mean maximal power (MMP) values for efforts lasting 10 seconds to 120 minutes with no fatigue (after 0 kJ·kg−1) and with increasing levels of fatigue (after 15, 25, 35, and 45 kJ·kg−1). Results: A significant (P < .001) and progressive deterioration of all MMP values was observed from the lowest levels of fatigue assessed (ie, −1.6% to −3.0% decline after 15 kJ·kg−1, and −6.0% to −9.7% after 45 kJ·kg−1). Compared with WT, PT cyclists showed a greater decay of MMP values under fatigue conditions (P < .001), and these differences increased with accumulating levels of fatigue (decay of −1.8 to −2.9% [WT] with reference to 0 kJ·kg−1 vs −1.1% to −4.4% [PT] after 15 kJ·kg−1 and of −4.7% to −8.8% [WT] vs −7.6% to −11.6% [PT] after 45 kJ·kg−1). No consistent differences were found between WT and PT cyclists in MMP values assessed in nonfatigue conditions (after 0 kJ·kg−1), but WT cyclists attained significantly higher MMP values with accumulating levels of fatigue, particularly for long-duration efforts (≥5 min). Conclusions: Our findings highlight the importance of considering fatigue when assessing the record power profile of endurance athletes and support the ability to attenuate fatigue-induced decline in MMP values as a determinant of endurance performance.

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Pedro L. Valenzuela, Xabier Muriel, Teun van Erp, Manuel Mateo-March, Alexis Gandia-Soriano, Mikel Zabala, Robert P. Lamberts, Alejandro Lucia, David Barranco-Gil, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: To present normative data for the record power profile of male professional cyclists attending to team categories and riding typologies. Methods: Power output data registered from 4 professional teams during 8 years (N = 144 cyclists, 129,262 files, and 1062 total seasons [7 (5) per cyclist] corresponding to both training and competition sessions) were analyzed. Cyclists were categorized as ProTeam (n = 46) or WorldTour (n = 98) and as all-rounders (n = 65), time trialists (n = 11), climbers (n = 50), sprinters (n = 11), or general classification contenders (n = 7). The record power profile was computed as the highest maximum mean power (MMP) value attained for different durations (1 s to 240 min) in both relative (W·kg−1) and absolute units (W). Results: Significant differences between ProTeam and WorldTour were found for both relative (P = .002) and absolute MMP values (P = .006), with WT showing lower relative, but not absolute, MMP values at shorter durations (30–60 s). However, higher relative and absolute MMP values were recorded for very short- (1 s) and long-duration efforts (60 and 240 min for relative MMP values and ≥5 min for absolute ones). Differences were also found regarding cyclists’ typologies for both relative and absolute MMP values (P < .001 for both), with sprinters presenting the highest relative and absolute MMP values for short-duration efforts (5–30 s) and general classification contenders presenting the highest relative MMP values for longer efforts (1–240 min). Conclusions: The present results––obtained from the largest cohort of professional cyclists assessed to date—could be used to assess cyclists’ capabilities and indicate that the record power profile can differ between cyclists’ categories and typologies.

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Manuel Mateo-March, Teun van Erp, Xabier Muriel, Pedro L. Valenzuela, Mikel Zabala, Robert P. Lamberts, Alejandro Lucia, David Barranco-Gil, and Jesús G. Pallarés

Purpose: To describe the record power profile of professional female cyclists and to assess potential differences based on the type of rider. Methods: Power output data (32,028 files containing both training and competition sessions recorded) in 44 female professional cyclists during 1–6 years were analyzed. Cyclists were categorized as all-rounders, time trialists, climbers, or sprinters. The record power profile was calculated using the mean maximal power output (MMP) values attained by each cyclist for different-effort durations (5 s to 60 min) expressed in relative (W·kg−1), as well as absolute, power output (W). Results: Participants’ MMP averaged 15.3 (1.8) W·kg−1 for 5 seconds, 8.4 (0.8) W·kg−1 for 1 minute, 5.2 (0.5) W·kg−1 for 10 minutes, and 4.2 (0.4) W·kg−1 for 60 minutes. For short-duration efforts (5–30 s), sprinters attained the highest MMP results, with significantly higher relative (Hedges g = 1.40–2.31) or absolute (g = 4.48–8.06) values than the remainder of categories or climbers only, respectively. Time trialists attained the highest MMP for longer efforts, with higher relative values than both all-rounders and climbers when comparing efforts lasting 10 to 60 minutes (P < .05, g = 1.21–1.54). Conclusions: In professional female cyclists, the record power profile substantially differs based on the specific category of the rider. These findings provide unique insights into the physical capacities of female professional cyclists, as well as a benchmark for coaches and scientists aiming to identify talent in female cycling.