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Sjors Groot, Lars H.J. van de Westelaken, Dionne A. Noordhof, Koen Levels and Jos J. de Koning

Background: Research has shown that gross efficiency (GE) declines during high-intensity exercise, but the time course of recovery of GE after high-intensity exercise has not yet been investigated. Purpose: To determine the time course of the recovery of GE after time trials (TTs) of different lengths. Methods: Nineteen trained male cyclists participated in this study. Before and after TTs of 2000 and 20,000 m, subjects performed submaximal exercise at 55% of the power output attained at maximal oxygen uptake (PVO2max). The postmeasurement continued until 30 min after the end of the TT, during which GE was determined over 3-min intervals. The magnitude-based-inferences approach was used for statistical analysis. Results: GE decreased substantially during the 2000-m and 20,000-m TTs (−11.8% [3.6%] and −6.2% [4.0%], respectively). A most likely and very likely recovery of GE was found during the first half of the submaximal exercise bout performed after the 2000-m, with only a possible increase in GE during the first part of the submaximal exercise bout performed after the 20,000-m. After both distances, GE did not fully recover to the initial pre-TT values, as the difference between the pre-TT value and average GE value of minutes 26–29 was still most likely negative for both the 2000- and 20,000-m (−6.1% [2.8%] and −7.0% [4.5%], respectively). Conclusions: It is impossible to fully recover GE after TTs of 2000- or 20,000-m during 30 min of submaximal cycling exercise performed at an intensity of 55% PVO2max.

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Koen Levels, Lennart P.J. Teunissen, Arnold de Haan, Jos J. de Koning, Bernadet van Os and Hein A.M. Daanen

Purpose:

The best way to apply precooling for endurance exercise in the heat is still unclear. The authors analyzed the effect of different preparation regimens on pacing during a 15-km cycling time trial in the heat.

Methods:

Ten male subjects completed four 15-km time trials (30°C), preceded by different preparation regimes: 10 min cycling (WARM-UP), 30 min scalp cooling of which 10 min was cycling (SC+WARM-UP), ice-slurry ingestion (ICE), and ice slurry ingestion + 30 min scalp cooling (SC+ICE).

Results:

No differences were observed in finish time and mean power output, although power output was lower for WARM-UP than for SC+ICE during km 13–14 (17 ± 16 and 19 ± 14 W, respectively) and for ICE during km 13 (16 ± 16 W). Rectal temperature at the start of the time trial was lower for both ICE conditions (~36.7°C) than both WARMUP conditions (~37.1°C) and remained lower during the first part of the trial. Skin temperature and thermal sensation were lower at the start for SC+ICE.

Conclusions:

The preparation regimen providing the lowest body-heat content and sensation of coolness at the start (SC+ICE) was most beneficial for pacing during the latter stages of the time trial, although overall performance did not differ.

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Dennis van Erck, Eric J. Wenker, Koen Levels, Carl Foster, Jos J. de Koning and Dionne A. Noordhof

Background: Although cyclists often compete at altitude, the effect of altitude on gross efficiency (GE) remains inconclusive. Purpose: To investigate the effect of altitude on GE at the same relative exercise intensity and at the same absolute power output (PO) and to determine the effect of altitude on the change in GE during high-intensity exercise. Methods: Twenty-one trained men performed 3 maximal incremental tests and 5 GE tests at sea level, 1500 m, and 2500 m of acute simulated altitude. The GE tests at altitude were performed once at the same relative exercise intensity and once at the same absolute PO as at sea level. Results: Altitude resulted in an unclear effect at 1500 m (−3.8%; ±3.3% [90% confidence limit]) and most likely negative effect at 2500 m (−6.3%; ±1.7%) on pre-GE, when determined at the same relative exercise intensity. When pre-GE was determined at the same absolute PO, unclear differences in GE were found (−1.5%; ±2.6% at 1500 m; −1.7%; ±2.4% at 2500 m). The effect of altitude on the decrease in GE during high-intensity exercise was unclear when determined at the same relative exercise intensity (−0.4%; ±2.8% at 1500 m; −0.7%; ±1.9% at 2500 m). When GE was determined at the same absolute PO, altitude resulted in a substantially smaller decrease in GE (2.8%; ±2.4% at 1500 m; 5.5%; ±2.9% at 2500 m). Conclusion: The lower GE found at altitude when exercise is performed at the same relative exercise intensity is mainly caused by the lower PO at which cyclists exercise.

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Emiel Schulze, Hein A.M. Daanen, Koen Levels, Julia R. Casadio, Daniel J. Plews, Andrew E. Kilding, Rodney Siegel and Paul B. Laursen

Purpose:

To determine the effect of thermal state and thermal comfort on cycling performance in the heat.

Methods:

Seven well-trained male triathletes completed 3 performance trials consisting of 60 min cycling at a fixed rating of perceived exertion (14) followed immediately by a 20-km time trial in hot (30°C) and humid (80% relative humidity) conditions. In a randomized order, cyclists either drank ambient-temperature (30°C) fluid ad libitum during exercise (CON), drank ice slurry (−1°C) ad libitum during exercise (ICE), or precooled with iced towels and ice slurry ingestion (15g/kg) before drinking ice slurry ad libitum during exercise (PC+ICE). Power output, rectal temperature, and ratings of thermal comfort were measured.

Results:

Overall mean power output was possibly higher in ICE (+1.4% ± 1.8% [90% confidence limit]; 0.4 > smallest worthwhile change [SWC]) and likely higher PC+ICE (+2.5% ± 1.9%; 1.5 > SWC) than in CON; however, no substantial differences were shown between PC+ICE and ICE (unclear). Time-trial performance was likely enhanced in ICE compared with CON (+2.4% ± 2.7%; 1.4 > SWC) and PC+ICE (+2.9% ± 3.2%; 1.9 > SWC). Differences in mean rectal temperature during exercise were unclear between trials. Ratings of thermal comfort were likely and very likely lower during exercise in ICE and PC+ICE, respectively, than in CON.

Conclusions:

While PC+ICE had a stronger effect on mean power output compared with CON than ICE did, the ICE strategy enhanced late-stage time-trial performance the most. Findings suggest that thermal comfort may be as important as thermal state for maximizing performance in the heat.