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Andrew D. Williams, Isaac Selva Raj, Kristie L. Stucas, James W. Fell, Diana Dickenson and John R. Gregory

Objectives:

Uncoupled cycling cranks are designed to remove the ability of one leg to assist the other during the cycling action. It has been suggested that training with this type of crank can increase mechanical efficiency. However, whether these improvements can confer performance enhancement in already well-trained cyclists has not been reported.

Method:

Fourteen well-trained cyclists (13 males, 1 female; 32.4 ± 8.8 y; 74.5 ± 10.3 kg; Vo2max 60.6 ± 5.5 mL·kg−1·min−1; mean ± SD) participated in this study. Participants were randomized to training on a stationary bicycle using either an uncoupled (n = 7) or traditional crank (n = 7) system. Training involved 1-h sessions, 3 days per week for 6 weeks, and at a heart rate equivalent to 70% of peak power output (PPO) substituted into the training schedule in place of other training. Vo2max, lactate threshold, gross efficiency, and cycling performance were measured before and following the training intervention. Pre- and post testing was conducted using traditional cranks.

Results:

No differences were observed between the groups for changes in Vo2max, lactate threshold, gross efficiency, or average power maintained during a 30-minute time trial.

Conclusion:

Our results indicate that 6 weeks (18 sessions) of training using an uncoupled crank system does not result in changes in any physiological or performance measures in well-trained cyclists.

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Gregory T. Levin, Paul B. Laursen and Chris R. Abbiss

Purpose:

To assess the reliability of a 5-min-stage graded exercise test (GXT) and determine the association between physiological attributes and performance over stochastic cycling trials of varying distance.

Methods:

Twenty-eight well-trained male cyclists performed 2 GXTs and either a 30-km (n = 17) or a 100-km stochastic cycling time trial (n = 9). Stochastic cycling trials included periods of high-intensity efforts for durations of 250 m, 1 km, or 4 km depending on the test being performing.

Results:

Maximal physiological attributes were found to be extremely reliable (maximal oxygen uptake [VO2max]: coefficient of variation [CV] 3.0%, intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] .911; peak power output [PPO]: CV 3.0%, ICC .913), but a greater variability was found in ventilatory thresholds and economy. All physiological variables measured during the GXT, except economy at 200 W, were correlated with 30-km cycling performance. Power output during the 250-m and 1-km efforts of the 30-km trial were correlated with VO2max, PPO, and the power output at the second ventilatory threshold (r = .58–.82). PPO was the only physiological attributed measured during the GXT to be correlated with performance during the 100-km cycling trial (r = .64).

Conclusions:

Many physiological variables from a reliable GXT were associated with performance over shorter (30-km) but not longer (100-km) stochastic cycling trials.

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Jos J. de Koning, Dionne A. Noordhof, Tom P. Uitslag, Rianna E Galiart, Christopher Dodge and Carl Foster

Purpose:

Gross efficiency (GE) is coupling power production to propulsion and is an important performance-determining factor in endurance sports. Measuring GE normally requires measuring VO2 during submaximal exercise. In this study a method is proposed to estimating GE during high-intensity exercise.

Methods:

Nineteen subjects completed a maximal incremental test and 2 GE tests (1 experimental and 1 control test). The GE test consisted of 10 min cycling at 50% peak power output (PPO), 2 min at 25 W, followed by 4 min 100% PPO, 1 min at 25 W, and another 10 min at 50% PPO. GE was determined for the 50%-PPO sections and was, for the second 50%-PPO section, back-extrapolated, using linear regression, to the end of the 100%-PPO bout.

Results:

Back-extrapolation of the GE data resulted in a calculated GE of 15.8% ± 1.7% at the end of the 100%-PPO bout, in contrast to 18.3% ± 1.3% during the final 2 min of the first 10-min 50%-PPO bout.

Conclusion:

Back-extrapolation seems valuable in providing more insight in GE during high-intensity exercise.

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Julia H. Goedecke, Virginia R. Clark, Timothy D. Noakes and Estelle V. Lambert

The aims of the study were to determine if medium-chain triacylglycerol (MCT), ingested in combination with carbohydrate (CHO), would alter substrate metabolism and improve simulated competitive ultra-endurance cycling performance. Eight endurance-trained cyclists took part in this randomized, single-blind crossover study. On two separate occasions, subjects cycled for 270 min at 50% of peak power output, interspersed with four 75 kJ sprints at 60 min intervals, followed immediately by a 200 kJ time-trial. One hour prior to the exercise trials, subjects ingested either 75 g of CHO or 32 g of MCT, and then ingested 200 mL of a 10% CHO (wt/vol) solution or a 4.3% MCT + 10% CHO (wt/vol) solution every 20 min during the CHO and MCT trials, respectively. During the constant-load phases of the 270 min exercise trial, VO2, RER, and heart rate were measured at 30 min intervals and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms were recorded. There was no difference in VO2 or RER between the MCT and CHO trials (P = 0.40). Hourly sprint (P = 0.03 for trial x time interaction) and time-trial times (14:30 ± 0.58 vs. 12:36 ± 1:6, respectively, P < 0.001) were slower in the MCT than the CHO trial. Half the subjects experienced GI symptoms with MCT ingestion. In conclusion, MCTs ingested prior to exercise and co-ingested with CHO during exercise did not alter substrate metabolism and significantly compromised sprint performance during prolonged ultra-endurance cycling exercise.

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Bent R. Rønnestad, Gunnar Slettaløkken Falch and Stian Ellefsen

Postactivation-potentiation exercise with added whole-body vibration (WBV) has been suggested as a potential way to acutely improve sprint performance. In cycling, there are many competitions and situations where sprinting abilities are important.

Purpose:

To investigate the effect of adding WBV to warm-up procedures on subsequent cycle sprint performance.

Methods:

Eleven well-trained cyclists participated in the study. All cyclists performed a familiarization session before 2 separate test sessions in randomized order. Each session included a standardized warm-up followed by 1 of the following preconditioning exercises: 30 s of half-squats without WBV or 30 s of half-squats with WBV at 40 Hz. A 15-s Wingate sprint was performed 1 min after the preconditioning exercise.

Results:

Performing preconditioning exercise with WBV at 40 Hz resulted in superior peak power output compared with preconditioning exercise without WBV (1413 ± 257 W vs 1353 ± 213 W, P = .04) and a tendency toward superior mean power output during a 15-second all-out sprint (850 ± 119 W vs 828 ± 101 W, P = .08). Effect sizes showed a moderate practical effect of WBV vs no WBV on both peak and mean power output.

Conclusions:

Preconditioning exercise performed with WBV at 40 Hz seems to have a positive effect on cycling sprint performance in young well-trained cyclists. This suggests that athletes can incorporate body-loaded squats with WBV in preparations to specific sprint training to improve the quality of the sprint training and also to improve sprint performance in relevant competitions.

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Robert P. Lamberts

In high-performance cycling, it is important to maintain a healthy balance between training load and recovery. Recently a new submaximal cycle test, known as the Lamberts and Lambert Submaximal Cycle Test (LSCT), has been shown to be able to accurately predict cycling performance in 15 well-trained cyclists. The aim of this study was to determine the predictive value of the LSCT in 102 trained to elite cyclists (82 men and 20 women). All cyclists performed an LSCT test followed by a peak-power-output (PPO) test, which included respiratory-gas analysis for the determination of maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max). They then performed the LSCT test followed by a 40-km time trial (TT) 72 h later. Average power output during the 3 stages of the LSCT increased from 31%, 60%, and 79% of PPO, while the ratings of perceived exertion increased from 8 to 13 to 16. Very good relationships were found between actual and LSCT-predicted PPO (r = .98, 95%CI: .97–.98, P < .0001), VO2max (r = .96, 95%CI: .97–.99, P < .0001) and 40-km-TT time (r = .98, 95%CI: .94–.97, P < .0001). No gender differences were found when predicting cycling performance from the LSCT (P = .95). The findings of this study show that the LSCT is able to accurately predict cycling performance in trained to elite male and female cyclists and potentially can be used to prescribe and fine-tune training prescription in cycling.

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Darren G. Burke, Shawn Silver, Laurence E. Holt, Truis Smith-Palmer, Christopher J. Culligan and Philip D. Chilibeck

Dietary supplementation (SUP) has become a significant part of athletic training. Studies indicate that creatine (Cr) can enhance short-duration, high-intensity activities. This study examined the effect of 21 days of low dose Cr SUP (~7.7 g/day) and resistance training on force output, power output, duration of mean peak power output, and total work performed until fatigue. A double-blind protocol was used, where an individual, who was not part of any other aspect of the study, randomly assigned subjects to creatine and placebo groups. Forty-one male university athletes were randomly assigned to either Cr (n= 20) or placebo (n = 21) SUP. On the first and last day of the study, subjects were required to perform concentric bench press movements until exhaustion on an isokinetic dynamometer. The dynamometer was hard-wired to a personal computer, which provided force, velocity, and duration measures. Force and power output until fatigue, were used to determine total work, force-time, and power-time relationships. ANOVA results revealed that the Cr subjects performed more total work until fatigue, experienced significantly greater improvements in peak force and peak power, and maintained elevated mean peak power for a longer period of time. These results indicate that Cr SUP can significantly improve factors associated with short-duration, high-intensity activity.

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Edwin Chong, Kym J. Guelfi and Paul A. Fournier

This study investigated whether combined ingestion and mouth rinsing with a carbohydrate solution could improve maximal sprint cycling performance. Twelve competitive male cyclists ingested 100 ml of one of the following solutions 20 min before exercise in a randomized double-blinded counterbalanced order (a) 10% glucose solution, (b) 0.05% aspartame solution, (c) 9.0% maltodextrin solution, or (d) water as a control. Fifteen min after ingestion, repeated mouth rinsing was carried out with 11 × 15 ml bolus doses of the same solution at 30-s intervals. Each participant then performed a 45-s maximal sprint effort on a cycle ergometer. Peak power output was significantly higher in response to the glucose trial (1188 ± 166 W) compared with the water (1036 ± 177 W), aspartame (1088 ± 128 W) and maltodextrin (1024 ± 202W) trials by 14.7 ± 10.6, 9.2 ± 4.6 and 16.0 ± 6.0% respectively (p < .05). Mean power output during the sprint was significantly higher in the glucose trial compared with maltodextrin (p < .05) and also tended to be higher than the water trial (p = .075). Glucose and maltodextrin resulted in a similar increase in blood glucose, and the responses of blood lactate and pH to sprinting did not differ significantly between treatments (p > .05). These findings suggest that combining the ingestion of glucose with glucose mouth rinsing improves maximal sprint performance. This ergogenic effect is unlikely to be related to changes in blood glucose, sweetness, or energy sensing mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract.

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Mark Hayes, Paul C. Castle, Emma Z. Ross and Neil S. Maxwell

Purpose:

To examine the effect of a hot humid (HH) compared with a hot dry (HD) environment, matched for heat stress, on intermittent-sprint performance. In comparison with HD, HH environments compromise evaporative heat loss and decrease exercise tolerance. It was hypothesized that HH would produce greater physiological strain and reduce intermittent-sprint exercise performance compared with HD.

Method:

Eleven male team-sport players completed the cycling intermittent-sprint protocol (CISP) in 3 conditions, temperate (TEMP; 21.2°C ± 1.3°C, 48.6% ± 8.4% relative humidity [rh]), HH (33.7°C ± 0.5°C, 78.2% ± 2.3% rh), and HD (40.2°C ± 0.2°C, 33.1% ± 4.9% rh), with both heat conditions matched for heat stress.

Results:

All participants completed the CISP in TEMP, but 3 failed to completed the full protocol of 20 sprints in HH and HD. Peak power output declined in all conditions (P < .05) but was not different between any condition (sprints 1–14 [N = 11]: HH 1073 ± 150 W, HD 1104 ± 127 W, TEMP, 1074 ± 134; sprints 15–20 [N = 8]: HH 954 ± 114 W, HD 997 ± 115 W, TEMP 993 ± 94; P > .05). Physiological strain was not significantly different in HH compared with HD, but HH was higher than TEMP (P < .05).

Conclusion:

Intermittent-sprint exercise performance of 40 min duration is impaired, but it is not different in HH and HD environments matched for heat stress despite evidence of a trend toward greater physiological strain in an HH environment.

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Paul S.R. Goods, Brian T. Dawson, Grant J. Landers, Christopher J. Gore and Peter Peeling

Purpose:

This study aimed to assess the impact of 3 heights of simulated altitude exposure on repeat-sprint performance in teamsport athletes.

Methods:

Ten trained male team-sport athletes completed 3 sets of repeated sprints (9 × 4 s) on a nonmotorized treadmill at sea level and at simulated altitudes of 2000, 3000, and 4000 m. Participants completed 4 trials in a random order over 4 wk, with mean power output (MPO), peak power output (PPO), blood lactate concentration (Bla), and oxygen saturation (SaO2) recorded after each set.

Results:

Each increase in simulated altitude corresponded with a significant decrease in SaO2. Total work across all sets was highest at sea level and correspondingly lower at each successive altitude (P < .05; sea level < 2000 m < 3000 m < 4000 m). In the first set, MPO was reduced only at 4000 m, but for subsequent sets, decreases in MPO were observed at all altitudes (P < .05; 2000 m < 3000 m < 4000 m). PPO was maintained in all sets except for set 3 at 4000 m (P < .05; vs sea level and 2000 m). BLa levels were highest at 4000 m and significantly greater (P < .05) than at sea level after all sets.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that “higher may not be better,” as a simulated altitude of 4000 m may potentially blunt absolute training quality. Therefore, it is recommended that a moderate simulated altitude (2000–3000 m) be employed when implementing intermittent hypoxic repeat-sprint training for team-sport athletes.