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A 3-min All-out Cycling Test Is Sensitive to a Change in Critical Power


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 9 - p 1693-1699
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318177871a
APPLIED SCIENCES: Physical Fitness and Performance

Purpose: The aim of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that a 3-min all-out cycling test would detect a change in critical power (CP) after a 4-wk interval training intervention.

Methods: Nine habitually active subjects completed a ramp test, two 3-min all-out tests to establish the end power (EP) and the work done above EP (WEP), and three predicting trials to establish CP and W′ using the work-time model (W = CPt + W′). After 12 supervised high-intensity interval training sessions over 4 wk, subjects repeated the testing procedures.

Results: The CP increased in all subjects after training (pretraining: 230 ± 53 W; posttraining: 255 ± 50 W; t 8 = 7.47, P < 0.001), with no statistically significant effect on the W′ (pretraining: 17.2 ± 4.2 kJ; posttraining: 15.5 ± 3.8 kJ; t 8 = 2.03, P = 0.08). The all-out test EP was increased after training from 225 ± 52 W to 248 ± 46 W (t 8 = 6.26, P < 0.001). The EP and CP estimates before and after training were not different and were highly correlated (pretraining: r = 0.96, P < 0.001; posttraining: r = 0.95, P < 0.001). In addition, the increase in EP was correlated with (r = 0.77, P = 0.016) and not different from (t 8 = 0.60, P = 0.57) the increase in CP. There was no change in the WEP from pretraining to posttraining (t 8 = 1.89, P = 0.10).

Conclusions: The present study shows that the 3-min all-out test closely estimates CP across a wide range of aerobic fitness and is sensitive to training-induced changes in CP.

1School of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, Devon, UNITED KINGDOM; 2Chelsea School Research Centre, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, UNITED KINGDOM; and 3Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Mark Burnley, Ph.D., Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Carwyn James Building, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3FD, United Kingdom; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2008.

Accepted for publication March 2008.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine