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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:

Effect of cadence, cycling experience, and aerobic power on delta efficiency during cycling


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MARSH, A. P., P. E. MARTIN, and K. O. FOLEY. Effect of cadence, cycling experience, and aerobic power on delta efficiency during cycling. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 9, pp. 1630–1634, 2000.

Purpose: To examine the influence of cadence, cycling experience, and aerobic power on delta efficiency during cycling and to determine the significance of delta efficiency as a factor underlying the selection of preferred cadence.

Methods: Delta efficiency (DE) was determined for 11 trained experienced cyclists (C), 10 trained runners (R), and 10 less-trained noncyclists (LT) at 50, 65, 80, 95, and 110 rpm. Preferred cadence (PC) was determined at 100, 150, and 200 W for C and R and at 75, 100, and 150 W for LT. Gas exchange at each power output (PO) was measured on a separate day, and the five cadences were randomly ordered on each occasion. It was hypothesized that: a) cyclists are most efficient at the higher cadences at which they are accustomed to training and racing, i.e., there will be a trend for DE to increase with increases in cadence; b) cyclists and runners will exhibit similar DE across the range of cadences tested; and c) DE of less-trained subjects will be lower than that of cyclists and runners.

Results: PCs of C and R were similar and did not change appreciably with PO (100 W: C, 95.6 ± 10.8; R, 92.0 ± 8.5: 150 W: C, 94.4 ± 10.3; R, 92.9 ± 7.8: 200 W: C, 92.2 ± 7.2; R, 91.8 ± 7.9 rpm). The PC of LT was significantly lower and decreased with increases in power output (75 W: 80.0 ± 15.3; 100 W: 77.5 ± 15.1; 150 W: 69.1 ± 11.9 rpm). The first hypothesis was rejected because analysis of the cyclists’ data alone revealed no systematic increase in DE as cadence was increased [F (4,40) = 0.272, P = 0.894]. Repeated measures ANOVA on all three groups revealed no group × cadence interaction [F (8,112) = 0.589, P = 0.785]. Again there was no systematic effect of cadence on DE [F (4,112) = 1.058, P = 0.381]. The second and third hypotheses were also rejected since there was no group main effect, i.e., DE of cyclists, runners, and less-trained subjects were not significantly different [F (2,28) = 1.397,

P = 0.264].

Conclusion: Pedaling cadence did not have a dramatic effect on DE in any group. Muscular efficiency, as measured indirectly by delta efficiency, appears to remain relatively constant at approximately 24%, regardless of cycling experience or fitness level.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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