New applications of the critical-power concept, such as the modeling of intermittent-work capabilities, are exciting prospects for elite cycling. However, accurate calculation of the required parameters is traditionally time invasive and somewhat impractical. An alternative single-test protocol (3-min all-out) has recently been proposed, but validation in an elite population is lacking. The traditional approach for parameter establishment, but with fewer tests, could also prove an acceptable compromise.
Six senior Australian endurance track-cycling representatives completed 6 efforts to exhaustion on 2 separate days over a 3-wk period. These included 1-, 4-, 6-, 8-, and 10-min self-paced efforts, plus the 3-min all-out protocol. Traditional work-vs-time calculations of CP and anaerobic energy contribution (W′) using the 5 self-paced efforts were compared with calculations from the 3-min all-out protocol. The impact of using just 2 or 3 self-paced efforts for traditional CP and W′ estimation was also explored using thresholds of agreement (8 W, 2.0 kJ, respectively).
CP estimated from the 3-min all-out approach was significantly higher than from the traditional approach (402 ± 33, 351 ± 27 W, P < .001), while W′ was lower (15.5 ± 3.0, 24.3 ± 4.0 kJ, P = .02). Five different combinations of 2 or 3 self-paced efforts led to CP estimates within the threshold of agreement, with only 1 combination deemed accurate for W′.
In elite cyclists the 3-min all-out approach is not suitable to estimate CP when compared with the traditional method. However, reducing the number of tests used in the traditional method lessens testing burden while maintaining appropriate parameter accuracy.