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In Professional Road Cyclists, Low Pedaling Cadences Are Less Efficient

LUCIA, ALEJANDRO1; SAN JUAN, ALEJANDRO F.1; MONTILLA, MANUEL1; CAÑETE, SILVIA1; SANTALLA, ALFREDO2; EARNEST, CONRAD3; PÉREZ, MARGARITA1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2004 - Volume 36 - Issue 6 - pp 1048-1054
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

LUCIA, A., A. F. SAN JUAN, M. MONTILLA, S. CAÑETE, A. SANTALLA, C. EARNEST, and M. PÉREZ. In Professional Road Cyclists, Low Pedaling Cadences Are Less Efficient. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 36, No. 6, pp. 1048–1054, 2004.

Purpose: To determine the effects of changes in pedaling frequency on the gross efficiency (GE) and other physiological variables (oxygen uptake (V̇O2), HR, lactate, pH, ventilation, motor unit recruitment estimated by EMG) of professional cyclists while generating high power outputs (PO).

Methods: Following a counterbalanced, cross-over design, eight professional cyclists (age (mean ± SD): 26 ± 2 yr, V̇O2max: 74.0 ± 5.7 mL·kg−1·min−1) performed three 6-min bouts at a fixed PO (mean of 366 ± 37 W) and at a cadence of 60, 80, and 100 rpm.

Results: Values of GE averaged 22.4 ± 1.7, 23.6 ± 1.8 and 24.2 ± 2.0% at 60, 80, and 100 rpm, respectively. Mean GE at 100 rpm was significantly higher than at 60 rpm (P < 0.05). Similarly, mean values of V̇O2, HR, rates of perceived exertion (RPE), lactate and normalized root-mean square EMG (rms-EMG) in both vastus lateralis and gluteus maximum muscles decreased at increasing cadences.

Conclusions: In professional road cyclists riding at high PO, GE/economy improves at increasing pedaling cadences.

1Exercise Physiology Laboratory, European University of Madrid, Madrid, SPAIN; 2University Alphonse X, Madrid, SPAIN; and 3Cooper Institute Center for Human Performance and Nutrition Research, Dallas, TX

Address for correspondence: Alejandro Lucia, M.D., Ph.D., Exercise Physiology Laboratory, European University of Madrid, E-28670 Madrid, Spain; E-mail: alejandro.lucia@mrfs.cisa.uem.es.

Submitted for publication August 2003.

Accepted for publication January 2004.

©2004The American College of Sports Medicine