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Stephen J. Bailey, Anni Vanhatalo, Matthew I. Black, Fred J. DiMenna and Andrew M. Jones


To assess whether combining prior “priming” exercise with an all-out pacing strategy is more effective at improving oxygen-uptake (V̇O2) kinetics and cycling performance than either intervention administered independently.


Nine men completed target-work cycling performance trials using a self-paced or all-out pacing strategy with or without prior severe-intensity (70%Δ) priming exercise. Breath-by-breath pulmonary V̇O2 and cycling power output were measured during all trials.


Compared with the self-paced unprimed control trial (22 ± 5 s), the V̇O2 mean response time (MRT) was shorter (V̇O2 kinetics were faster) with all-out pacing (17 ± 4 s) and priming (17 ± 3 s), with the lowest V̇O2 MRT observed when all-out pacing and priming were combined (15 ± 4 s) (P < .05). However, total O2 consumed and end-exercise V̇O2 were only higher than the control condition in the primed trials (P < .05). Similarly, cycling performance was improved compared with control (98 ± 11 s) in the self-paced primed (93 ± 8 s) and all-out primed (92 ± 8 s) trials (P < .05) but not the all-out unprimed trial (97 ± 5 s; P > .05).


These findings suggest that combining an all-out start with severe-intensity priming exercise additively improves V̇O2 MRT but not total O2 consumption and cycling performance since these were improved by a similar magnitude in both primed trials relative to the self-paced unprimed control condition. Therefore, these results support the use of priming exercise as a precompetition intervention to improve oxidative metabolism and performance during short-duration high-intensity cycling exercise, independent of the pacing strategy adopted.

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Matthew I. Black, Joseph C. Handsaker, Sam J. Allen, Stephanie E. Forrester and Jonathan P. Folland

The influence of running speed and sex on running economy is unclear and may have been confounded by measurements of oxygen cost that do not account for known differences in substrate metabolism, across a limited range of speeds, and differences in performance standard. Therefore, this study assessed the energy cost of running over a wide range of speeds in high-level and recreational runners to investigate the effect of speed (in absolute and relative terms) and sex (men vs women of equivalent performance standard) on running economy. To determine the energy cost (kcal · kg−1 · km−1) of submaximal running, speed at lactate turn point (sLTP), and maximal rate of oxygen uptake, 92 healthy runners (high-level men, n = 14; high-level women, n = 10; recreational men, n = 35; recreational women, n = 33) completed a discontinuous incremental treadmill test. There were no sex-specific differences in the energy cost of running for the recreational or high-level runners when compared at absolute or relative running speeds (P > .05). The absolute and relative speed–energy cost relationships for the high-level runners demonstrated a curvilinear U shape with a nadir reflecting the most economical speed at 13 km/h or 70% sLTP. The high-level runners were more economical than the recreational runners at all absolute and relative running speeds (P < .05). These findings demonstrate that there is an optimal speed for economical running, there is no sex-specific difference, and high-level endurance runners exhibit better running economy than recreational endurance runners.

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Kirsty Brock, Prokopios Antonellis, Matthew I. Black, Fred J. DiMenna, Anni Vanhatalo, Andrew M. Jones and Stephen J. Bailey

Purpose: To investigate whether oxygen-uptake (V˙O2) kinetics and simulated 4-km cycling performance are synergistically improved by prior “priming” exercise and an all-out starting strategy. Methods: Nine men completed 4 target work trials (114 ± 17 kJ) to assess V˙O2 kinetics and cycling performance in a repeated-measures, crossover experimental design. Trials were initiated with either a 12-s all-out start or a self-selected start and preceded by prior severe-intensity (70%Δ) priming exercise or no priming exercise. Results: The V˙O2 mean response time (MRT) was lower (indicative of faster V˙O2 kinetics) in the all-out primed condition (20 ± 6 s) than in the all-out unprimed (23 ± 6 s), self-paced-unprimed (42 ± 13 s), and self-paced-primed (42 ± 11 s) trials (P < .05), with the V˙O2 MRT also lower in the all-out unprimed than the self-paced unprimed and self-paced primed trials (P < .05). Trial-completion time was shorter (performance was enhanced) in the all-out primed trial (402 ± 14 s) than in the all-out unprimed (408 ± 14 s), self-paced unprimed (411 ± 16 s), and self-paced primed (411 ± 19 s) trials (P < .05), with no differences between the latter 3 trials. Conclusions: The findings from this study suggest that combining severe-intensity priming exercise with a short-duration all-out starting strategy can expedite the adjustment of V˙O2 and lower completion time during a cycling performance trial to a greater extent than either intervention administered independently. These results might have implications for optimizing performance in short-duration high-intensity competitive events such as a 4-km cycling time trial.