The use of elliptical chainrings (also called chainwheels or sprockets) has gained considerable interest in the amateur and professional cycling community. Nevertheless, we are unaware of any scientific studies that have examined the performance benefits of using elliptical chainrings during an actual performance trial. Therefore, this study examined the influence of elliptical chainring use on physiological and performance parameters during a 10 km cycling time trial. Nine male cyclists completed, in a counterbalanced order, three 10 km cycling time trials using either a standard chainring or an elliptical chainring at two distinct settings. An attempt was made to blind the cyclists to the type of chainring used until the completion of the study. During the 10 km time trial, power output and heart rate were recorded at a frequency of 1 Hz and RPE was measured at 3, 6, and 8.5 km. Total power output was not different (P = .40) between the circular (340 ± 30 W) or either elliptical chainring condition (342 ± 29 W and 341 ± 31 W). Similarly, no differences (P = .73) in 2 km mean power output were observed between conditions. Further, no differences in RPE were observed between conditions measured at 3, 6, and 8.5 km. Heart rate was significantly greater (P = .02) using the less aggressive elliptical setting (174 ± 10 bpm) compared with the circular setting (171 ± 9 bpm). Elliptical chainrings do not appear to provide a performance benefit over traditional circular chainrings during a mid-distance time trial.
Jeremiah J. Peiffer and Chris R. Abbiss
Jeremiah J. Peiffer and Chris R. Abbiss
The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of environmental temperature on variability in power output, self-selected pacing strategies, and performance during a prolonged cycling time trial. Nine trained male cyclists randomly completed four 40 km cycling time trials in an environmental chamber at 17°C, 22°C, 27°C, and 32°C (40% RH). During the time trials, heart rate, core body temperature, and power output were recorded. The variability in power output was assessed with the use of exposure variation analysis. Mean 40 km power output was significantly lower during 32°C (309 ± 35 W) compared with 17°C (329 ± 31 W), 22°C (324 ± 34 W), and 27°C (322 ± 32 W). In addition, greater variability in power production was observed at 32°C compared with 17°C, as evidenced by a lower (P = .03) standard deviation of the exposure variation matrix (2.9 ± 0.5 vs 3.5 ± 0.4 units, respectively). Core temperature was greater (P < .05) at 32°C compared with 17°C and 22°C from 30 to 40 km, and the rate of rise in core temperature throughout the 40 km time trial was greater (P < .05) at 32°C (0.06 ± 0.04°C·km–1) compared with 17°C (0.05 ± 0.05°C·km–1). This study showed that time-trial performance is reduced under hot environmental conditions, and is associated with a shift in the composition of power output. These finding provide insight into the control of pacing strategies during exercise in the heat.
Laura E. Juliff, Jeremiah J. Peiffer and Shona L. Halson
Context: Night games are a regular occurrence for team-sport athletes, yet sleep complaints following night competitions are common. The mechanisms responsible for reported sleep difficulty in athletes are not understood. Methods: An observational crossover design investigating a night netball game and a time-matched rest day in 12 netball athletes was conducted to ascertain differences in physiological (core temperature), psychometric (state and trait), and neuroendocrine (adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol) responses. Results: Following the night game, athletes experienced reduced sleep durations, lower sleep efficiency, early awakenings, and poorer subjective sleep ratings compared with the rest day. No differences were found between core temperature, state psychometric measures, and cortisol at bedtime. Adrenaline and noradrenaline concentrations were elevated compared with the time-matched rest day prior to (26.92 [15.88] vs 12.90 [5.71] and 232.6 [148.1] vs 97.83 [36.43] nmol/L, respectively) and following the night game (18.67 [13.26] vs 11.92 [4.56] and 234.1 [137.2] vs 88.58 [54.08] nmol/L, respectively); however, the concentrations did not correlate to the sleep variables (duration, efficiency, and sleep-onset latency). A correlation (r s = −.611) between sleep efficiency and hyperarousal (trait psychometric measure) was found. Conclusions: Athletes experienced poor sleep following a night game. Furthermore, results suggest that athletes who have a tendency toward a high trait arousal may be more susceptible to sleep complaints following a night game. These data expand knowledge and refute frequently hypothesized explanations for poor sleep following night competition. The results may also help support staff and coaches target strategies for individual athletes at a higher risk of sleep complaints.
Jack M. Burns, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Chris R. Abbiss, Greig Watson, Angus Burnett and Paul B. Laursen
Manufacturers of uncoupled cycling cranks claim that their use will increase economy of motion and gross efficiency. Purportedly, this occurs by altering the muscle-recruitment patterns contributing to the resistive forces occurring during the recovery phase of the pedal stroke. Uncoupled cranks use an independent-clutch design by which each leg cycles independently of the other (ie, the cranks are not fixed together). However, research examining the efficacy of training with uncoupled cranks is equivocal. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of short-term training with uncoupled cranks on the performance-related variables economy of motion, gross efficiency, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), and muscle-activation patterns.
Sixteen trained cyclists were matched-paired into either an uncoupled-crank or a normal-crank training group. Both groups performed 5 wk of training on their assigned cranks. Before and after training, participants completed a graded exercise test using normal cranks. Expired gases were collected to determine economy of motion, gross efficiency, and VO2max, while integrated electromyography (iEMG) was used to examine muscle-activation patterns of the vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and gastrocnemius.
No significant changes between groups were observed for economy of motion, gross efficiency, VO2max, or iEMG in the uncoupled- or normal-crank group.
Five weeks of training with uncoupled cycling cranks had no effect on economy of motion, gross efficiency, muscle recruitment, or VO2max compared with training on normal cranks.
Jonathan Peake, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Chris R. Abbiss, Kazunori Nosaka, Paul B. Laursen and Katsuhiko Suzuki
Heat stress might attenuate the effects of carbohydrate on immunoendocrine responses to exercise by increasing endogenous glucose production and reducing the rate of exogenous carbohydrate oxidation. The authors compared the efficacy of carbohydrate consumption on immune responses to exercise in temperate vs. hot conditions.
Ten male cyclists exercised on 2 separate occasions in temperate (18.1 ± 0.4 °C, 58% ± 8% relative humidity) and on another 2 occasions in hot conditions (32.2 ± 0.7 °C, 55% ± 2% relative humidity). On each occasion, the cyclists exercised in a fed state for 90 min at ~60% VO2max and then completed a 16.1-km time trial. Every 15 min during the first 90 min of exercise, they consumed 0.24 g/kg body mass of a carbohydrate or placebo gel.
Neutrophil counts increased during exercise in all trials (p < .05) and were significantly lower (40%, p = .006) after the carbohydrate than after the placebo trial in 32 °C. The concentrations of serum interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, and IL-10 and plasma granulocyte-colony-stimulating factor, myeloperoxidase, and calprotectin also increased during exercise in all trials but did not differ significantly between the carbohydrate and placebo trials. Plasma norepinephrine concentration increased during exercise in all trials and was significantly higher (50%, p = .01) after the carbohydrate vs. the placebo trial in 32 °C.
Carbohydrate ingestion attenuated neutrophil counts during exercise in hot conditions, whereas it had no effect on any other immune variables in either temperate or hot conditions.
Jason R. Boynton, Fabian Danner, Paolo Menaspà, Jeremiah J. Peiffer and Chris R. Abbiss
Purpose: To examine the effect of environmental temperature (T A) on performance and physiological responses (eg, body temperature, cardiopulmonary measures) during a high-intensity aerobic interval session. It was hypothesized that power output would be highest in the 13°C condition and lower in the 5°C, 22°C, and 35°C conditions. Methods: Eleven well-trained cyclists randomly completed 4 interval sessions at 5°C, 13°C, 22°C, and 35°C (55% [13%] relative humidity), each involving five 4-min intervals interspersed with 5 min of recovery. During the intervals, power output, core temperature (T C), skin temperature, VO2, and heart rate were recorded. Results: Mean session power output for 13°C (366  W) was not higher than 5°C (363  W; P = 1.00, effect size = 0.085), 22°C (364  W; P = 1.00, effect size = 0.061), or 35°C (352  W; P = .129, effect size = 0.441). The 5th interval of the 35°C condition had a lower power output compared with all other T A. T C was higher in 22°C compared with both 5°C and 13°C (P = .001). VO2 was not significantly different across T A (P = .187). Heart rate was higher in the 4th and 5th intervals of 35°C compared with 5°C and 13°C. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that while mean power outputs for intervals are similar across T A, hot T A (≥35°C) reduces interval power output later in a training session. Well-trained cyclists performing maximal high-intensity aerobic intervals can achieve near-optimal power output over a broader range of T A than previous literature would indicate.
Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Chris R. Abbiss, Eric C. Haakonssen and Paolo Menaspà
Purpose: To examine the power-output distribution and sprint characteristics of professional female road cyclists. Methods: A total of 31 race files, representing top 5 finishes, were collected from 7 professional female cyclists. Files were analyzed for sprint characteristics, including mean and peak power output, velocity, and duration. The final 20 min before the sprint was analyzed to determine the mean maximal power output (MMP) consistent with durations of 5, 15, 30, 60, 240, and 600 s. Throughout the race, the number of efforts for each duration exceeding 80% of its corresponding final 20-min MMP (MMP80) was determined. The number of 15-s efforts exceeding 80% of the mean final sprint power output (MSP80) was determined. Results: Sprint finishes lasted 21.8 (6.7) s with mean and peak power outputs of 679 (101) and 886 (91) W, respectively. Throughout the race, additional 5-, 15-, and 30-s efforts above MMP80 were completed in the 5th compared with the 1st–4th quintiles of the race. The 60-s efforts were greater during the 5th quintile compared with the 1st, 2nd, and 4th quintiles, and during the 3rd compared with the 4th quintile. More 240-s efforts were recorded during the 5th compared with the 1st and 4th quintiles. About 82% of the 15-s efforts above MSP80 were completed in the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th quintiles of the race. Conclusions: These data demonstrate the variable nature of women’s professional cycling and the physical demands necessary for success, thus providing information that could enhance in-race decision making and the development of race-specific training programs.
Alan J. Metcalfe, Paolo Menaspà, Vincent Villerius, Marc Quod, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Andrew D. Govus and Chris R Abbiss
To describe the within-season external workloads of professional male road cyclists for optimal training prescription.
Training and racing of 4 international competitive professional male cyclists (age 24 ± 2 y, body mass 77.6 ± 1.5 kg) were monitored for 12 mo before the world team-time-trial championships. Three within-season phases leading up to the team-time-trial world championships on September 20, 2015, were defined as phase 1 (Oct–Jan), phase 2 (Feb–May), and phase 3 (June–Sept). Distance and time were compared between training and racing days and over each of the various phases. Times spent in absolute (<100, 100–300, 400–500, >500 W) and relative (0–1.9, 2.0–4.9, 5.0–7.9, >8 W/kg) power zones were also compared for the whole season and between phases 1–3.
Total distance (3859 ± 959 vs 10911 ± 620 km) and time (240.5 ± 37.5 vs 337.5 ± 26 h) were lower (P < .01) in phase 1 than phase 2. Total distance decreased (P < .01) from phase 2 to phase 3 (10911 ± 620 vs 8411 ± 1399 km, respectively). Mean absolute (236 ± 12.1 vs 197 ± 3 W) and relative (3.1 ± 0 vs 2.5 ± 0 W/kg) power output were higher (P < .05) during racing than training, respectively.
Volume and intensity differed between training and racing over each of 3 distinct within-season phases.
Nathan G. Lawler, Chris R. Abbiss, Aaron Raman, Timothy J. Fairchild, Garth L. Maker, Robert D. Trengove and Jeremiah J. Peiffer
To examine the influence of manipulating aerobic contribution after whole-blood removal on pacing patterns, performance, and energy contribution during self-paced middle-distance cycling.
Seven male cyclists (33 ± 8 y) completed an incremental cycling test followed 20 min later by a 4-min self-paced cycling time trial (4MMP) on 6 separate occasions over 42 d. The initial 2 sessions acted as familiarization and baseline testing, after which 470 mL of blood was removed, with the remaining sessions performed 24 h, 7 d, 21 d, and 42 d after blood removal. During all 4MMP trials, power output, oxygen uptake, and aerobic and anaerobic contribution to power were determined.
4MMP average power output significantly decreased by 7% ± 6%, 6% ± 8%, and 4% ± 6% at 24 h, 7 d, and 21 d after blood removal, respectively. Compared with baseline, aerobic contribution during the 4MMP was significantly reduced by 5% ± 4%, 4% ± 5%, and 4% ± 10% at 24 h, 7 d, and 21 d, respectively. The rate of decline in power output on commencement of the 4MMP was significantly attenuated and was 76% ± 20%, 72% ± 24%, and 75% ± 35% lower than baseline at 24 h, 21 d, and 42 d, respectively.
Removal of 470 mL of blood reduces aerobic energy contribution, alters pacing patterns, and decreases performance during self-paced cycling. These findings indicate the importance of aerobic energy distribution during self-paced middle-distance events.
Sam S.X. Wu, Jeremiah J. Peiffer, Peter Peeling, Jeanick Brisswalter, Wing Y. Lau, Kazunori Nosaka and Chris R. Abbiss
To investigate the effect of 3 swim-pacing profiles on subsequent performance during a sprint-distance triathlon (SDT).
Nine competitive/trained male triathletes completed 5 experimental sessions including a graded running exhaustion test, a 750-m swim time trial (STT), and 3 SDTs. The swim times of the 3 SDTs were matched, but pacing was manipulated to induce positive (ie, speed gradually decreasing from 92% to 73% STT), negative (ie, speed gradually increasing from 73% to 92% STT), or even pacing (constant 82.5% STT). The remaining disciplines were completed at a self-selected maximal pace. Speed over the entire triathlon, power output during the cycle discipline, rating of perceived exertion (RPE) for each discipline, and heart rate during the cycle and run were determined.
Faster cycle and overall triathlon times were achieved with positive swim pacing (30.5 ± 1.8 and 65.9 ± 4.0 min, respectively), as compared with the even (31.4 ± 1.0 min, P = .018 and 67.7 ± 3.9 min, P = .034, effect size [ES] = 0.46, respectively) and negative (31.8 ± 1.6 min, P = .011 and 67.3 ± 3.7 min, P = .041, ES = 0.36, respectively) pacing. Positive swim pacing elicited a lower RPE (9 ± 2) than negative swim pacing (11 ± 2, P = .014). No differences were observed in the other measured variables.
A positive swim pacing may improve overall SDT performance and should be considered by both elite and age-group athletes during racing.