Prior Upper Body Exercise Reduces Cycling Work Capacity but Not Critical Power

Johnson, Michael A.1; Mills, Dean E.1; Brown, Peter I.2; Sharpe, Graham R.1

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000159
Applied Sciences

Purpose: This study examined whether metabolite accumulation, induced by prior upper body exercise, affected the power–duration relationship for leg cycle ergometry.

Methods: Seven males performed, to the limit of tolerance and both without (L) and with (AL) prior severe-intensity arm-cranking exercise, an incremental cycling test and four constant power cycling tests to determine the parameters of the power–duration relationship: critical power (CP) and W′.

Results: At the onset of cycling exercise plasma lactate (L vs AL: 1.2 ± 0.1 vs 11.6 ± 2.9 mEq·L−1) and hydrogen ion (40.4 ± 1.3 vs 53.1 ± 4.3 nEq·L−1), concentrations were higher during AL compared with L, whereas the strong ion difference (37.8 ± 1.8 vs 32.4 ± 2.0 mEq·L−1) and bicarbonate concentration (25.7 ± 0.7 vs 18.3 ± 1.9 mEq·L−1) were lower during AL compared with L (P < 0.01). During incremental exercise, maximum cycling power (358 ± 15 vs 332 ± 21 W) and peak oxygen uptake (V˙O2peak) (4.31 ± 0.36 vs 3.71 ± 0.44 L·min−1) were lower during AL compared with L (P < 0.05). The rate of increase in plasma potassium concentration during constant power cycling was greater during AL compared with L (0.09 ± 0.08 vs 0.14 ± 0.13 mEq·L−1·min−1) (P < 0.05), and exercise duration was 35 ± 15% shorter (P < 0.01). CP was not different between L and AL (267 ± 19 vs 264 ± 20 W), whereas W′ was lower in AL (17.3 ± 5.7 vs 11.8 ± 4.2 kJ) (P < 0.01).

Conclusion: The reduced W′ after prior upper body exercise indicates that the magnitude of W′ is partly dependent on metabolite accumulation.

Author Information

1Sport, Health and Performance Enhancement (SHAPE) Research Group, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UNITED KINGDOM; and 2Department of Sport and Exercise, Derby University, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Michael A. Johnson, Ph.D., School of Science and Technology Nottingham Trent University Nottingham, NG11 8NS, United Kingdom; E-mail:

Submitted for publication April 2013.

Accepted for publication September 2013.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine