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Effect of Low Recumbent Angle on Cycling Performance, Fatigue, and V˙O2 Kinetics


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2013 - Volume 45 - Issue 4 - p 663–672
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318279a9f2
Basic Sciences

Purpose This study aimed to examine the effect of the degree of inclination from upright to supine postures on cycling performance, fatigue, and oxygen uptake (V˙O2) kinetics.

Methods In experiment 1, 10 subjects performed graded and fatigue (exhaustive constant-load heavy exercise with 10 s all-out efforts interspersed every minute) tests at four cycling postures: upright, 30° recumbent (R), 15° R, and supine. In experiment 2, nine different subjects performed two bouts of constant-load heavy exercise in the same four cycling postures. Bout 1 was brought to failure, and bout 2 was limited to 6 min, so that the breath-by-breath V˙O2 data from the first 6 min of each bout were averaged and curve fit.

Results The time sustained during the graded test was significantly shorter in the supine compared with the other three postures and also shorter in the 15° R compared with the upright. The rate of fatigue was higher in the supine compared with the other three postures, and the normalized EMG activities of three leg muscles at end exercise were larger in the supine (and in some cases 15° R) compared with upright posture. The time sustained (min) during high-intensity constant-load cycling was significantly longer during upright (12.8 ± 5.3) and 30° R (14.2 ± 6.1) compared with 15° R (8.5 ± 1.7) and supine (6.8 ± 2.0) postures, but the amplitudes of the slow component of the V˙O2 response (L·min−1) were larger during 15° R (0.57 ± 0.10) and supine (0.61 ± 0.15) compared with 30° R (0.39 ± 0.12) and also larger in the supine than upright (0.43 ± 0.13) postures. Inert gas rebreathing analysis revealed similar cardiac output responses at 60 s into the exercise among postures.

Conclusion Lowering the recumbent angle to 15° resulted in shorter performance, larger fatigue, and altered V˙O2 kinetics.

Department of Physiology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, IRELAND

Address for correspondence: Mikel Egaña, Ph.D., Department of Physiology, Level 2, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, 152-160 Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Ireland; E-mail:

Submitted for publication February 2012.

Accepted for publication October 2012.

©2013The American College of Sports Medicine