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Joint specific power production in cycling: The effect of cadence and intensity

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Background The effect of cadence and work rate on the joint specific power production in cycling has previously been studied, but research has primarily focused on cadences above 60 rpm, without examining the effect of low cadence on joint contribution to power. Purpose Our purpose was to investigate joint specific power production in recreational and elite cyclists during low- and moderate cycling at a range of different cadences. Methods 18 male cyclists (30.9 ± 2.7 years with a work rate in watt at lactate threshold of 282.3 ± 9.3 W) performed cycling bouts at seven different pedalling rates and three intensities. Joint specific power was calculated from kinematic measurements and pedal forces using inverse dynamics at a total of 21 different stages. Results A main effect of cadence on the relative to the total joint power for hip-, knee- and ankle joint power was found (all p < 0.05). Increasing cadence led to increasing knee joint power and decreasing hip joint power (all p < 0.05), with the exception at low cadence (<60 rpm), where there was no effect of cadence. The elite cyclists had higher relative hip joint power compared to the recreational group (p < 0.05). The hip joint power at moderate intensity with a freely chosen cadence (FCC) was lower than the hip joint power at low intensity with a low cadence (<60 rpm) (p < 0.05). Conclusion This study demonstrates that there is an effect of cadence on the hip- and knee joint contribution in cycling, however, the effect only occurs from 60 rpm and upward. It also demonstrates that there is a difference in joint contribution between elite- and recreational cyclists, and provide evidence for the possibility of achieving higher relative hip joint power at low intensity than moderate intensity by altering the cadence.
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RESEARCH ARTICLE
Joint specific power production in cycling: The
effect of cadence and intensity
Lorents Ola AasvoldID*, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng ID
Centre for Elite Sports Research, Department of Neuromedicine and Movement Science (INB), Faculty of
Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
*loraa@trondelagfylke.no
Abstract
Background
The effect of cadence and work rate on the joint specific power production in cycling has pre-
viously been studied, but research has primarily focused on cadences above 60 rpm, with-
out examining the effect of low cadence on joint contribution to power.
Purpose
Our purpose was to investigate joint specific power production in recreational and elite
cyclists during low- and moderate cycling at a range of different cadences.
Methods
18 male cyclists (30.9 ±2.7 years with a work rate in watt at lactate threshold of 282.3 ±9.3
W) performed cycling bouts at seven different pedalling rates and three intensities. Joint
specific power was calculated from kinematic measurements and pedal forces using inverse
dynamics at a total of 21 different stages.
Results
A main effect of cadence on the relative to the total joint power for hip-, knee- and ankle joint
power was found (all p <0.05). Increasing cadence led to increasing knee joint power and
decreasing hip joint power (all p <0.05), with the exception at low cadence (<60 rpm), where
there was no effect of cadence. The elite cyclists had higher relative hip joint power com-
pared to the recreational group (p <0.05). The hip joint power at moderate intensity with a
freely chosen cadence (FCC) was lower than the hip joint power at low intensity with a low
cadence (<60 rpm) (p <0.05).
Conclusion
This study demonstrates that there is an effect of cadence on the hip- and knee joint contri-
bution in cycling, however, the effect only occurs from 60 rpm and upward. It also demon-
strates that there is a difference in joint contribution between elite- and recreational cyclists,
and provide evidence for the possibility of achieving higher relative hip joint power at low
intensity than moderate intensity by altering the cadence.
PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212781 February 22, 2019 1 / 12
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OPEN ACCESS
Citation: Aasvold LO, Ettema G, Skovereng K
(2019) Joint specific power production in cycling:
The effect of cadence and intensity. PLoS ONE 14
(2): e0212781. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.
pone.0212781
Editor: Tiago M. Barbosa, Nanyang Technological
University, SINGAPORE
Received: September 7, 2018
Accepted: February 8, 2019
Published: February 22, 2019
Copyright: ©2019 Aasvold et al. This is an open
access article distributed under the terms of the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original
author and source are credited.
Data Availability Statement: All relevant data are
within the manuscript and its Supporting
Information files.
Funding: The authors received no specific funding
for this work.
Competing interests: The authors have declared
that no competing interest exist.
Introduction
The effect of cadence on cycling performance has been studied extensively with a majority of
studies focusing on cycling energetics [1]. A number of studies have also focused on the effect
of cadence on cycling technique and coordination [24]. These studies show that changing
cadence leads to numerous technical responses, such as changes in muscle activation and force
effectiveness [1,5,6].
A technical parameter that could provide insight into the coordination strategy during
cycling is the analysis of the relative joint-power distribution. Power delivered to the pedals
is mainly produced by muscles that span the ankle-, knee- and hip-joint [711]. Several
studies have investigated the effect of different factors, among others cadence and work
rate, on the joint contribution. There seems to be a consensus that increasing work rate
leads to an increase in relative hip joint contribution and a decrease in relative knee joint
contribution [810].
The consensus is not as clear regarding the effect of cadence. Skovereng et al. [12] and Mor-
nieux et al. [9] both showed that an increase in cadence led to a decrease in relative hip joint
contribution and an increase in relative knee joint contribution. In contrast, McDaniel et al.
[11] showed no effect of cadence on relative hip and knee joint powers. However, both Skover-
eng et al. [12] and Mornieux et al. [9] used submaximal intensities and cadences up to 110 rpm
while McDaniel et al. [11] used cadences up to 180 rpm at maximal intensity, thus making
direct comparisons difficult. The relative ankle joint contribution is reported to be unaffected
by cadence [9,11,12].
Because cyclists train and compete over a broad range of different cadences and work
rates it is important that the interplay between cadence and work rate is understood. Low
cadence training is a commonly used mode for elite and recreational cyclists and is gener-
ally characterized by moderate intensity and cadences below 60 rpm. Although there are no
clear advantages of low cadence training compared to freely chosen cadence when it comes
to physiological factors [1315], the effects of changing cadence invites the investigation of
low cadence training from a technical standpoint. Based on the variety of cadences used by
cyclists in training and competition, an understanding of the changes in joint specific
power over a wider range of cadences than previously studied is needed. This understanding
of the effect of cadence on joint specific powers may be useful to researchers, as well as
coaches and athletes. For example, if the relationship between hip power and cadence also
applies to very low cadences (<60 rpm), low cadence training at moderate intensity may be
regarded as specific training of the hip joint; it would allow the athlete to target specifically
the hip muscles, thus mimicking the joint power distribution at high work rate, without
needing to work at high intensity. Although low cadence training is done both by recrea-
tional and professional cyclists, the majority of studies investigating the effect of cadence on
joint specific power are done on recreational athletes [7,8,10,12]. This does not mean that
these groups of cyclists, although both trained in cycling, are affected in the same way by
extremely low cadences. Therefore, it is also of interest to investigate this effect in two
groups of different performance levels.
The aim of the current study was therefore to investigate joint-specific power production in
recreational- and elite cyclists during low- and moderate cycling at a range of different
cadences. Based on the reviewed literature, we hypothesized that reducing cadences (below 60
rpm) would lead to a further increase in hip joint power and cycling at low cadence and low
intensity would lead to a hip joint contribution comparable to moderate intensity and freely
chosen cadence (FCC).
Joint specific power production in cycling: The effect of cadence and intensity
PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212781 February 22, 2019 2 / 12
Methods
Participants
Eighteen well-trained male cyclists, ranging from recreational (n = 9) to elite (n = 9) cyclists
(Table 1) were recruited through different cycling clubs in Norway. The recreational cyclists
had previous cycling experience, but were excluded if competing at national level. To be
included as a elite cyclists, the following criteria was fulfilled: 1) competitive cyclist at UCI-reg-
istered Continental team, and 2) competed in 10+ UCI cat.2 races in the previous 12 months.
After explaining all procedures, written informed consent was obtained from each subject
individually. The study was registered, and approved by Norwegian Social Science Data Ser-
vices and conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.
Experimental protocol
The study was conducted as a cross sectional trial, and subjects came to the laboratory for two
occasions separated by a maximum of three days. The first day consisted of anthropometric
measurements followed by a lactate profile test and a performance test. The protocol started
with 20 minutes warm-up with freely chosen cadence and intensity where the athletes were
instructed to maintain a low intensity. Following the warm-up a lactate threshold test with 4–7
submaximal, incremental stages starting at 125 W with 50 W increments every 5 minutes until
blood lactate exceeded 2 mMol/l were performed. The increments were reduced to 25 W and
continued until blood lactate exceeded 4 mMol/l. Blood lactate was measured after 4:30 of
each work load, and heart rate (HR) and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) using Borg’s RPE
scale [16] at the end of each workload. The work rate corresponding to a blood lactate of
4mmol/L was set as the lactate threshold (LT).
The second day of testing started with 20 min of warm-up at 50% of LT with FCC. This was
followed by 30 seconds of cycling at 60 rpm at a workload equivalent to LT. Following 5 min-
utes of active recovery the main test started with a total of 21 stages at different cadences and
intensities each lasting 60 seconds and separated by 30 sec cycling at 50% of LT at a FCC. The
cadences used were FCC, 40, 50, 60, 80, 90 and 100 rpm and they were all used at three intensi-
ties corresponding to 55% (Int
55
), 85% (Int
85
) and 100% (Int
LT
) of a work rate corresponding
to the predetermined LT. The three intensities started with FCC while the remaining 6
Table 1. Subject characteristics.
Recreational Elite
n9 9
Age (years) 39.8 (3.4, 25–51) 22.0 (0.5, 19–24)
Weight (kg) 85.8 (3.3, 73.4–105.3) 73.4 (2.8, 62.4–90.1)
Height (cm) 184.1 (2.0, 174.5–193.0) 182.6 (1.9, 173.0–190.0)
HR
max
self-reported (bpm) 192.0 (2.0, 180–200) 201.4 (1.6, 190–205)
WR
LT
(W) 249.9 (6.6, 227.1–286.0) 314.8 (8.0, 278.0–345.2)
WR
LT
(W/kg) 2.9 (0.1, 2.5–3.5) 4.3 (0.2, 3.7–4.9)
20-min all-out mean (W) 271.9 (10.1, 235–329) 364.1 (8.7, 331–404)
20-min all-out mean (W/kg) 3.5 (0.3, 2.6–4.0) 4.9 (0.2, 4.4–5.6)
Freely chosen cadence (rpm) 86.3 (4.3, 55.3–100.6) 86.5 (3.2, 72.9–95.7)
Mean (SE, range) for subject characteristics. WR
LT
= work rate in watt at lactate threshold. Mean 20-min all-out
power was determined as a self-paced performance test blinded to power utilizing a freely chosen cadence. Freely
chosen cadence is defined as the mean cadence at the Int
LT
with FCC.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212781.t001
Joint specific power production in cycling: The effect of cadence and intensity
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cadences were randomized using a cross-over design with one group going from low to high
cadence and one group from high to low cadence in order to avoid a potential effect of the
order of the included cadences in the main test.
HR and cadence was measured continuously during all stages. Lactate and RPE was mea-
sured at the end of the last stage at every work rate. Pedal forces and kinetic variables were
measured for 30 seconds of each cadence at all work rates. The subjects were instructed to
remain seated with the hands placed on the hoods while performing the intervals. The partici-
pants were not informed about when the kinetic data were recorded.
Equipment and measurements
All measurements were performed in a laboratory with steady conditions (temperature ~22
o
C
and relative humidity ~45%). All cycling tests were performed on an electronically braked,
indoor cycle trainer (CompuTrainer, RacerMate Inc, Seattle, USA) with the participants per-
sonal road bicycles. This assures that the cycling technique used by the riders is as authentic as
possible and eliminates technical effects resulting from position on the bicycle (i.e., seat height
etc.). The cycle trainer was set up and calibrated according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Blood lactate was measured using the Biosen C-Line Sport lactate measurement system (EKF
Industrial Electronics, Magdeburg, Germany). Heart rate was measured with a heart rate mon-
itor (Polar M400, Polar Electro OY, Kempele, Finland).
Cycling kinematics was measured using an eight-camera Oqus motion capture system
(Qualisys, Sweden) using a sample rate of 100 Hz. Reflective markers were placed on the neck
(cervical spine), pelvis (iliac crest), hip (greater trochanter), knee (lateral epicondyle), ankle
(lateral malleolus) and on the front and back of custom made extensions placed symmetrically
on the pedal axis. The kinematic data was collected from both limbs and pedals, and average
values were used.
Pedal forces were measured with two custom pedals equipped with two force cells (Revere
Model 9363, capacity 250 kg per cell, the Netherland) at a sample rate of 100 Hz. A description
of the force pedal system and calibration procedures can be found in Ettema et al. [17].
Data analysis
Cycling kinematics where collected using Qualisys Track Manager software (Qualisys, Swe-
den) which allowed for the integration of the analog pedal force signals and thus, simultaneous
recording of the two. Using Matlab R2015b, joint powers for the hip, knee and ankle joints
were calculated using inverse dynamics for a linked system of rigid segments [1719]. In short,
the powers at the joints are calculated from the pedal forces, the movements of the body seg-
ments and the inertial estimates (mass and moment of inertia) of these segments, by applying
Newton’s inertial laws. Guidelines for calculating masses and moments of inertia were taken
from Van Soest et al. [20].
Statistical analysis
All descriptive data are presented as mean ±standard error. Where applicable, 95% confidence
intervals (CI) are reported. A linear mixed model was used to evaluate the effect of cadence,
intensity and athlete level on joint specific power. Because external power was not always iden-
tical at the different cadences, relative (normalized for total joint power) rather than absolute
joint power was used as a covariant in the analyses. Fishers LSD analysis was used to localise
and evaluate the content of the effect of cadence and intensity and effect size was calculated as
partial Eta squared for the main joint power analysis. When an effect of athlete level was found
a one-way ANOVA was used to evaluate the effect. Statistical significance was accepted at
Joint specific power production in cycling: The effect of cadence and intensity
PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212781 February 22, 2019 4 / 12
p<0.05. All data analysis and statistical analysis was conducted using SPSS 24.0 (SPSS, Chi-
cago, USA) for mac and Matlab R2015b and R2016b (MathWorks Inc. Natic, USA).
Results
The mean external work rate calculated from the pedal forces for all cadences were 152.6 ±8.8
W at Int
55
, 245.0 ±8.2 W at Int
85
and 290.4 ±9.6 W at Int
LT
.Fig 1 shows the external power
against cadence. The different cadence conditions led to differences in the external work rate
of 6.2 ±0.8, 2.1 ±0.1 and 3.4 ±0.6 W at Int
55
, Int
85
and Int
LT
respectively.
Effect of cadence
Absolute- and relative joint power at different cadences is presented in Figs 2and 3, respec-
tively. The joint power ranged from 34.9 to 134.9 W for the hip joint, 51.6 to 147.9 W for the
knee joint and 13.2 to 42.9 W for the ankle joint. For Int
55
, the hip joint was the main power
producing joint at low cadence (60 rpm) (p <0.05), while the knee joint was the main power
producing joint at high cadence (80 rpm) (p <0.05) but there was no difference at 60 rpm
(p <0.09). A similar joint contribution was seen at Int
85
and Int
LT
where the hip joint being
the main power producing joint at low cadence (50 rpm) (p <0.05) and the knee joint was
the main power producing joint at high cadence (90 rpm) (p <0.05).
A main effect of cadence on the relative hip- [F(5,306) = 33.86, p <0.001, partial eta-
sq = 0.89], knee- [F(5,306) = 76.00, p <0.001, partial eta-sq = 0.93] and ankle joint power [F
(5,306) = 8.12, p <0.001, partial eta-sq = 0.84] was found. In general, an increase in cadence
led to a decrease in relative hip joint power and an increase in relative knee joint power. How-
ever, from 60 rpm and below there was no significant effect of cadence. For the relative ankle
Fig 1. External power against cadence. Group mean and standard error for (A) external power at Int
55
(diamond), Int
85
(circle) and Int
LT
(square) at
all cadences (filled marker indicate FCC).
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Joint specific power production in cycling: The effect of cadence and intensity
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joint power, a trend of decreased ankle joint contribution with increased cadence was found,
with a significantly lower ankle joint contribution at high cadence (80 rpm) compared to low
cadence (50 rpm).
Effect of intensity
A main effect of intensity on the relative hip- [F(2,306) = 6.16, p <0.001, partial eta-sq = 0.71]
and knee joint contribution [F(2,306) = 16.87, p <0.001, partial eta-sq = 0.90] was found. The
relative hip joint power at low intensity (Int
55
) was lower than at moderate intensity (Int
85
and
Int
LT
), while there was no significant difference between Int
85
and Int
LT
. An increase in inten-
sity led to a decrease in relative knee joint power between low (Int
55
) and moderate (Int
85
and
Int
LT
) intensity, with no effect between Int
85
and Int
LT
. There was no effect of intensity on the
relative ankle joint power.
An interaction effect of intensity and cadence was found for both hip- [F(10,306) = 2.30,
p<0.05, partial eta-sq = 0.91] and knee joint contribution [F(10,306) = 2.91, p <0.01, partial
eta-sq = 0.95]. Contrast analysis revealed a smaller effect of changing cadence at Int
LT
com-
pared to Int
55
(Fig 3). No interaction effect was found for the ankle joint contribution.
Sub-group analysis
In order to investigate the effect of performance level, we divided the cohort into elite and rec-
reational level cyclists. The elite cyclists had higher WR
LT
and 20-min all-out power compared
to the recreational cyclists, with 315 ±7.6 and 364 ±7.8 W compared to 250 ±6.5 and
272 ±9.2 W respectively. There was no difference in the freely chosen cadence between the
groups (p >0.19).
Overall, the whole group results were also seen in both subgroups with an increase in
cadence leading to an increase in knee joint contribution and decrease in hip joint contribu-
tion (p <0.01) and an increase in work rate led to increased hip joint contribution and
decreased knee joint contribution (p <0.01). There was no difference in the effect of work rate
or cadence between the groups (both p >0.53) but there was a difference in the relative joint
distribution where the elite cyclists overall had a 9.8 percentage higher relative hip joint contri-
bution (p <0.01).
Discussion
The purpose of this study was to investigate joint-specific power production during low- and
moderate cycling at a range of different cadences and additionally to investigate differences in
the effect of cadence and work rate between elite and recreational cyclists. The main findings
of this study were that an increase in cadence leads to a decrease in relative hip joint power
and an increase in relative knee joint power. However, the effect of cadence on the relative
hip- and knee joint power only occurred from and above 60 rpm.
We performed the statistical analysis on the two identifiable subgroups (recreational versus
elite). Although the statistical power for these analyses was limited, the same conclusions could
be drawn on the main findings. Our group of participants had a relatively large variation in
performance level. If we use the classification of cyclists by Jeukendrup et al. [21] the recrea-
tional group are categorized as trained- or well-trained cyclists, while the elite group are
Fig 2. Total joint power for hip, knee and ankle joint actions. Group mean and standard error for total joint power
in hip (square), knee (diamond) and ankle (circle) joint at Int
55
, Int
85
and Int
LT
. Filled marker indicate FCC. indicate
a difference in joint power from previous cadence for the hip and knee joints. Daggers indicate a difference in the
mean total joint power from previous intensity.
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212781.g002
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Joint specific power production in cycling: The effect of cadence and intensity
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categorized as elite based on training and race status. This strengthens the notion that our
findings are highly generalizable. However, a main difference between groups was that the
elite cyclist showed a higher relative hip power and lower relative knee power compared to the
recreational cyclist across all intensities and cadences.
Effect of cadence
Increasing cadence led to a decreased relative hip joint power and increased relative knee joint
power and our findings complies with earlier research [9,12]. However, contrary to our
hypothesis, there was no effect at cadences below 60 rpm. Skovereng et al. [12] and Mornieux
et al. [9] both found increasing hip joint power and decreasing knee joint power with decreas-
ing cadence but neither of the aforementioned studies investigated cadences below 60 rpm.
The current results indicate that there is a point where a further decrease in cadence produces
no change in the joint power distribution.
We hypothesized that cycling at low cadence and low intensity would lead to a hip joint
contribution comparable to moderate intensity with a FCC. Our results showed that the hip
joint power at low cadence (60 rpm) and low intensity was higher than the hip joint power at
moderate intensity with a FCC. These results show the possibility of achieving higher hip joint
contribution at a lower intensity by altering cadence. This enables a potential for specific hip
training without needing high whole-body intensity.
Our results show that there is a shift from the hip joint being the most power producing
joint at low cadence (60 rpm) to the knee joint being the most power producing joint at high
cadence (80 rpm).
The elite group had higher relative hip joint contribution and lower relative knee joint con-
tribution compared to the recreational group. Numerous studies have provided evidence that
repeated performance of a movement task could facilitate neuromuscular adaptations, which
could result in a more skilled movement [22,23]. Chapman et al.’s [24] findings suggest that
highly trained cyclists exhibit more skilled muscle recruitment as a result of neuromuscular
adaptations compared to novice cyclists. The differences between highly trained- and novice
cyclists found by Chapman et al. [24] likely reflect continued adaptation with long-term train-
ing. The difference in joint power between the recreational- and elite cyclists in our study
could possibly be an outcome of task experience and movement skill among the athletes. Inter-
estingly, this difference does not seem to have any impact on the cadence effect on the use of
hip and knee in power production.
Effect of intensity
The results regarding the effect of intensity on relative hip-, knee- and ankle joint power com-
plies with previous research [8,9]. However, there was no significant effect of increasing inten-
sity from Int
85
to Int
LT
on the relative hip- and knee joint contribution. Similar results were
also found by Elmer et al. [10] who found no effect of increasing external work rate from sub-
maximal to maximal on the relative hip extension power in cyclists. This may indicate that
there is an upper limit for the effect of intensity on relative joint contribution, similar as the
one found for cadence [11]. To date there are no studies that include a wide enough range of
different work rates to conclude on the matter. Taken together, the current findings indicate
Fig 3. Relative joint power for hip, knee and ankle joint actions. Group mean and standard error for relative joint
power in hip (square), knee (diamond) and ankle (circle) joint at Int
55
, Int
85
and Int
LT
. Filled marker indicate FCC.
indicate a difference in joint power from previous cadence for the hip and knee joints. Daggers indicate a difference in
the mean relative joint power from previous intensity.
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that an increase from low- to moderate intensity leads to a shift in technique with a greater
contribution from the hip joint and decreasing contribution from the knee joint. However, the
effect of increasing intensity from moderate to high and maximal is unclear.
There was a variation in the measured work rate at the different cadences caused by difficul-
ties with the resistance on the stationary trainer particularly at Int
55
. The largest discrepancy
from the mean work rate occurred at 40 rpm and 100 rpm (10.8 W and 10.2 W respectively) at
Int
55
. For the higher work rates, there were minor differences in measured work rate (i.e. aver-
age deviation from mean work rate 2.5 ±0.3 W and 3.4 ±2.5 W at Int
85
and Int
LT
respectively)
between the different cadences and should therefore have a minimal impact on the results.
Conclusion
The present study demonstrates that increasing cadence leads to a decrease in relative hip joint
power and an increase in relative knee joint power, however, the effect of cadence only occurs
from and above 60 rpm. The study also provides evidence for the possibility of achieving
higher hip joint power at low intensity as at moderate intensity by altering the cadence. The
findings from the present study provide further knowledge about the effect of cadence and
intensity on the joint power contribution among cyclist. These results may have implications
for researchers, coaches and athletes in the field of cycling.
Supporting information
S1 File Data. Dataset for the present publication.
(CSV)
Acknowledgments
The authors thank all of the athletes for their participation and cooperation in this study and
David McGhie for the help with the mixed model analysis.
Author Contributions
Conceptualization: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Data curation: Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Formal analysis: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Funding acquisition: Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Investigation: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Methodology: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Project administration: Lorents Ola Aasvold.
Resources: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Software: Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Supervision: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Knut Skovereng.
Validation: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Visualization: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Writing – original draft: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Knut Skovereng.
Writing – review & editing: Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng.
Joint specific power production in cycling: The effect of cadence and intensity
PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212781 February 22, 2019 10 / 12
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Joint specific power production in cycling: The effect of cadence and intensity
PLOS ONE | https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212781 February 22, 2019 12 / 12

Supplementary resource (1)

... relative joint contribution to power) of high and low LT cyclists. Studies directly comparing relative joint contribution have done so in experienced and novice cyclists (Aasvold et al. 2019;Bini et al. 2014;Ohashi et al. 2007) and have found inconsistent results. Studies have found higher (Aasvold et al. 2019), lower (Ohashi et al. 2007), or no difference in relative hip contribution (Bini et al. 2014) between experienced and novice cyclists. ...
... Studies directly comparing relative joint contribution have done so in experienced and novice cyclists (Aasvold et al. 2019;Bini et al. 2014;Ohashi et al. 2007) and have found inconsistent results. Studies have found higher (Aasvold et al. 2019), lower (Ohashi et al. 2007), or no difference in relative hip contribution (Bini et al. 2014) between experienced and novice cyclists. Prior studies have made relative joint contribution comparisons at different absolute and relative work rates and/or relative exercise intensities. ...
... Prior studies have made relative joint contribution comparisons at different absolute and relative work rates and/or relative exercise intensities. As both the absolute and relative joint powers of the lower extremity adjusts to increases in work rate (Ericson 1986;Skovereng et al. 2016a, b), comparing at different work rates (absolute or relative) makes interpretation and generalization somewhat tenuous (Aasvold et al. 2019;Bini et al. 2014;Ohashi et al. 2007). By comparing cyclists with similar VO 2max values but with different % VO 2max at LT while cycling, a direct comparison can be made at similar absolute and relative work rates (i.e.; % VO 2max ). ...
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Purpose: The biomechanical differences between cyclists with a high compared with a low blood lactate threshold (HLT; 80% VO2max vs LLT, 70% VO2max) have yet to be completely described. We hypothesize that HLT cyclists reduce the stress placed on the knee extensor muscles by increasing the relative contribution from the hip joint during high-intensity cycling. Method: Sixteen well-trained endurance athletes, with equally high VO2max while cycling and running completed submaximal tests during incremental exercise to identify lactate threshold ([Formula: see text]) while running and cycling. Subjects were separated into two groups based on % VO2max at LT during cycling (high; HLT: 80.2 ± 2.1% VO2max; n = 8) and (LLT: 70.3 ± 2.9% VO2max; n = 8; p < 0.01). Absolute and relative joint specific powers were calculated from kinematic and pedal forces using inverse dynamics while cycling at intensities ranging from 60-90% VO2max for between group comparisons. Result: There was no difference between HLT and LLT in [Formula: see text] (p > 0.05) while running. While cycling in LLT, knee joint absolute power increased with work rate (p < 0.05); however, in HLT no changes in knee joint absolute power occurred with increased work rate (p > 0.05). The HLT generated significantly greater relative hip power compared with the LLT group at 90% VO2max (p < 0.05). Conclusion: These data suggest that HLT cyclists exhibit a greater relative hip contribution to power output during cycling at 90% VO2max. These observations support the theory that lactate production during cycling can be reduced by spreading the work rate between various muscle groups.
... All subjects were informed of the potential risks of the experiment and gave their written consent to participate before the experiment. This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Education at Hokkaido University (Approval Number: [17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24] was also performed after 9 training sessions (Inter). ...
... However, as the load during cycling exercise increases, the relative contribution of knee extension power decreases, while the relative contribution of hip extension power increases 22) . On the other hand, as the cadence during work-matched cycling exercise increases, the knee extension power increases while hip extension power decreases 23,24) . Therefore, it is speculated that the peak power of both groups equally improved due to improvement in the hip extension power of HL60 and in the knee extension power of LL120. ...
Article
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Work-matched high-intensity intermittent cycling training (HIICT) reportedly improves VO2max regardless of the combination of loads and cadences. However, the effect of work-matched HIICT with different combinations of loads and cadences on anaerobic work capacity is unknown. This study aims to investigate the effects of work-matched HIICT with different loads and cadences on Wingate anaerobic test (WAnT) performance, which is an index of anaerobic work capacity. University athletes performed HIICT either with high-load / 60 rpm (HL60, n = 8) or low-load / 120 rpm (LL120, n = 8). HIICT consisted of eight sets of pedaling for 20 s with 10 s of passive rest between each set. Initial exercise intensity was set at 135% of VO2peak and decreased by 5% after every two sets. HIICT was performed for 18 sessions during the 6-week period. Pre and post the training period, peak power, peak rpm, average power, and time to reach peak power during WAnT and VO2peak were measured. According to two-way analysis of variance (time × group), the main effect of time was observed in VO2peak, peak power, peak rpm, and average power during WAnT (p < 0.05). However, time × group interaction was not observed for any indices (p > 0.05). Conversely, time × group interaction was observed in time to reach peak power during WAnT, and significantly shortened only in HL60 (p < 0.05). These results suggest the effectiveness of work-matched HIICT with high-load / low cadence on WAnT performance.
... Our data suggests that the knee extensors are preferentially loaded during eccentric squatting, experiencing greater peak moments and muscle activity than the hip extensors. Therefore, squatting with AEL may benefit sporting activities that rely heavily on the knee extensors such as cycling [47], rowing [48], and sprinting [49]. Furthermore, AEL squatting may elicit eccentric-specific adaptation in the form of an increased fascicle length [50], and thus contraction velocity. ...
Article
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Introduction: Accentuated-eccentric loading (AEL) takes advantage of the high force producing potential of eccentric muscle contractions, potentially maximising mechanical tension within the muscle. However, evidence is lacking on how AEL squatting may load the involved musculature, limiting scientifically justified programming recommendations. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of concentric and eccentric loads on joint loading and muscle activity of the lower limbs. Methods: Resistance trained males performed traditional squatting (20-100% of concentric one-repetition maximum [1RM]) and AEL squatting with eccentric loads (110-150% of 1RM) provided by a novel motorised isotonic resistance machine (Kineo). Kinetics and kinematics of the hip, knee, and ankle joints were collected, with electromyography from the gluteus maximus, vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and gastrocnemius medialis. A secondary cohort underwent a kinematic and electromyography analysis of squatting technique to compare Kineo and back and front barbell squatting. Results: Knee joint peak eccentric moments occurred at 120% 1RM (P = 0.045), with no further increase thereafter. As eccentric load increased, the time course of moment development occurred earlier in the eccentric phase. This resulted in a 37% increase in eccentric knee extensor work from the 80% 1RM trial to the 120% 1RM trial (P<0.001). Neither hip nor ankle joints displayed further change in kinetics as eccentric load increased above 100% 1RM. Electromyographic activity during traditional squatting was ~15-30% lower in all eccentric trials than in concentric trials for all muscles. EMG plateaued between a load of 80-100% 1RM during the eccentric trials and did not increase with AEL. No significant differences in kinematics were found between Kineo and barbell squatting. Conclusions: The knee extensors appear to be preferentially loaded during AEL squatting. The greater work performed during the eccentric phase of the squat as eccentric load increased suggests greater total mechanical tension could be the cause of adaptations from AEL. Our data suggest that AEL should be programmed with a load of 120% of 1RM. Further studies are needed to confirm the longer-term training effects of AEL.
... 80 rpm compared to \ 50 rpm. 31 However, further studies are required to determine if similar responses are observed when ankle ROM is increased and decreased in a controlled trial. ...
Article
There is a lack of research assessing Motion Performance Indicators (MPIs), which have been recently made commercially available. Therefore, this study explored: (1) the influence of incremented exercise on MPIs and; (2) the relationships between MPIs and cycling performance at different intensities during a graded exercise test (GXT) in professional cyclists. Thirty-six professional cyclists performed GXT until exhaustion with their own bikes attached to a cycle ergometer. MPIs were collected using a real-time motion capture system based on inertial measurement units at 100 Hz of sample rate. Data were extracted from intensities of the GXT when lactate thresholds (LT1, LT2) and peak power (POpeak) were determined. Results showed that only Pelvic Angle ( p < 0.01, d > 1.15) and Pelvic Rotation ( p < 0.01, d > 1.37) were sensitive to increases in exercise intensity (i.e. greater inclination and increased rotation at greater power). Multivariate liner regression analyses showed that a reduced range of movement (ROM) for the upper legs at sub-maximum intensities (LT1 and LT2) was associated with greater power production ( r ² > 0.21), whilst a reduced ROM for the right foot was associated with greater POpeak ( r ² = 0.20). In conclusion, changes in movement patterns were limited to a greater inclination and rotation of the pelvis at maximum power without changes in other MPIs throughout the GXT. Cyclists who produced greater power presented less ROM for their upper legs at LT1 and LT2 whilst at POpeak and greater power production was moderately associated with less ROM for the right foot. Coaches may be able to use MPI to analyze for excess ROM, particularly at higher exercise intensities, as this seems to increase inefficiencies and limit power production.
... That observation contrasts with past observations, in which CR has been identified as the primary driver of speed at moderate to high speeds (Nilsson et al., 2004;Stöggl and Müller, 2009), but agrees with other findings that both CR and CL did increase with speed (Sandbakk et al., 2012(Sandbakk et al., , 2015b. A practical takeaway from our findings is that skiers, to simulate competition-relevant CLs could include periods in their LI training during which they intentionally aim to ski with a lower CR than normal, as done in other sports, including road cycling (Aasvold et al., 2019). Such low-frequency training may be particularly relevant in relatively flat (or gentle downhill) terrain where CL has been shown as the main driver of increased speed. ...
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The purposes of our study were to investigate the physiological and biomechanical responses to low-intensity (LI) and high-intensity (HI) roller ski skating on varying terrain and compare these responses between training intensities. Nine elite male skiers performed treadmill roller skiing consisting of two 21 min sessions (7 × 3 min laps) at LI and HI with the same set inclines and intensity-dependent speeds (LI/HI: distance: 5.8/7.5 km, average speed: 16.7/21.3 km/h). Physiological and biomechanical variables were measured continuously, and each movement cycle and sub-technique employed were detected and classified with a machine learning model. Both the LI and HI sessions induced large terrain-dependent fluctuations (relative to the maximal levels) in heart rate (HR, 17.7 vs. 12.2%-points), oxygen uptake (VO 2 , 33.0 vs. 31.7%-points), and muscle oxygen saturation in the triceps brachii (23.9 vs. 33.4%-points) and vastus lateralis (12.6 vs. 24.3%-points). A sub-technique dependency in relative power contribution from poles and skis exhibited a time-dependent shift from Lap 1 to Lap 7 toward gradually more ski power (6.6 vs. 7.8%-points, both p < 0.01). The terrain-dependent fluctuations did not differ between LI and HI forVO 2 (p = 0.50), whereas HR fluctuated less (p < 0.01) and displayed a time-dependent increase from Lap 2 to Lap 7 (7.8%-points, p > 0.01) during HI. Oxygen saturation shifted 2.4% points more for legs than arms from LI to HI (p > 0.05) and regarding sub-technique, 14.7% points more G3 on behalf of G2 was employed on the steepest uphill during HI (p < 0.05). Within all sub-techniques, cycle length increased two to three times more than cycle rate from LI to HI in the same terrains, while the corresponding poling time decreased more than ski contact time (all p > 0.05). In sum, both LI and HI crosscountry (XC) skiing on varying terrain induce large terrain-dependent physiological and biomechanical fluctuations, similar to the patterns found during XC skiing competitions. The primary differences between training intensities were the time-dependent increase in HR, reduced relative oxygen saturation in the legs compared to the arms, and greater use of G3 on steep uphill terrain during HI training, whereas sub-technique selection, cycle rate, and pole vs. ski power distribution were similar across intensities on flat and moderately uphill terrain.
Article
Vibration has the potential to compromise performance in cycling. This study aimed to investigate the effects of vibration on full-body kinematics and muscle activation time series. Nineteen male amateur cyclists (mass 74.9 ± 5.9 kg, body height 1.82 ± 0.05 m, Vo2max 57 ± 9 ml/kg/min, age 27 ± 7 years) cycled (216 ± 16 W) with (Vib) and without (NoVib) vibration. Full-body kinematics and muscle activation time series were analysed. Vibration did not affect lower extremity joint kinematics significantly. The pelvic rotated with vibration towards the posterior direction (NoVib: 22.2 ± 4.8°, Vib: 23.1 ± 4.7°, p = 0.016, d = 0.20), upper body lean (NoVib: 157.8 ± 3.0°, Vib: 158.9 ± 3.4°, p = 0.001, d = 0.35) and elbow flexion (NoVib: 27.0 ± 8.2°, Vib: 29.4 ± 9.0°, p = 0.010, d = 0.28) increased significantly with vibration. The activation of lower extremity muscles (soleus, gastrocnemius lat., tibialis ant., vastus med., rectus fem., biceps fem.) increased significantly during varying phases of the crank cycle due to vibration. Vibration increased arm and shoulder muscle (triceps brachii, deltoideus pars scapularis) activation significantly over almost the entire crank cycle. The co-contraction of knee and ankle flexors and extensors (vastus med. – gastrocnemius lat., vastus med. – biceps fem., soleus – tibialis ant.) increased significantly with vibration. In conclusion vibrations influence main tasks such as propulsion and upper body stabilization on the bicycle to a different extent. The effect of vibration on the task of propulsion is limited due to unchanged lower body kinematics and only phase-specific increases of muscular activation during the crank cycle. Additional demands on upper body stabilization are indicated by adjusted upper body kinematics and increased muscle activation of the arm and shoulder muscles during major parts of the cranking cycle.
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This study aimed to examine the relationship between the pedal force application technique under a specific competitive condition and the ability to perform steady-state pedaling at a supramaximal cadence during a special pedaling test. A total of 15 competitive male cyclists and 13 active, healthy men (novice cyclists, hereafter, novices) performed the pedaling technique test. The test imitated a road cycling competition condition (80% VO2 peak and a cadence of 90 rpm). Additionally, they performed a supramaximal cadence test that evaluated the ability to perform steady-state pedaling for an ultra-high cadence (range of 160–220 rpm) of 30 s stably with a 0.1 kgf. For the pedaling technique test, kinetic data were obtained by the pedal-shaped force platform at 1,000 Hz, and the pedaling technique was determined by the index of force effectiveness (IFE). For the supramaximal cadence test, kinematic data were obtained using a motion capture system at 200 Hz. The supramaximal pedaling cadence (C max ) was determined by measuring exercise time and targeted pedaling cadence. The IFE was 48.0 ± 9.7% in cyclists and 32.0 ± 5.9% in novices. The C max was 215.5 ± 8.8 rpm in cyclists and 192.2 ± 13.0 rpm in novices. These values were significantly higher for cyclists than for novices. C max was moderately correlated with IFE ( r = 0.64). No significant correlation was observed between C max and IFE for cyclists only; in contrast, a moderate correlation was observed between these parameters for novices only ( r = 0.67). In conclusion, the pedal force application technique under a specific competitive condition is related to the ability to perform steady-state pedaling for supramaximal cadence during the test. Therefore, C max may be able to explain pedal force application techniques without the need for expensive devices for novices.
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Purpose: This study aims to provide an understanding of how surface-induced vibrations in cycling interfere with short-term neuromuscular performance. Methods: The study was conducted as a cross-sectional single cohort trial. Thirty trained cyclists participated (mass 75.9 ± 8.9 kg, body height 1.82 ± 0.05 m, VO2max 63 ± 6.8 ml/min/kg). The experimental intervention included a systematic variation of the two independent variables, vibration (Vib: front dropout: 44 Hz, 4.1 mm; rear dropout: 38 Hz, 3.5 mm; NoVib) and cranking power (LOW: 137 ± 14 W; MED: 221 ± 18 W; HIGH: 331 ± 65 W) from individual low to submaximal intensity. Dependent variables were transmitted accelerations to the body, muscular activation (gastrocnemius medialis, gastrocnemius lateralis, soleus, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, rectus femoris, triceps brachii, flexor carpi ulnaris, lumbar erector spinae), heart rate and oxygen consumption. Results: The main findings show that the RMS of local accelerations increased with vibration at the lower extremities, the torso and the arms-shoulder system. The activation of gastrocnemius medialis, gastrocnemius lateralis, soleus, triceps brachii and flexor carpi ulnaris increased significantly with vibration. The activation of vastus lateralis increased significantly with vibration only at HIGH cranking power. Oxygen consumption (+2.7%) and heart rate (+ 5 - 7%) increased significantly in the presence of vibration. Conclusions: Vibration is a full-body phenomenon. However, the impact of vibration on propulsion is limited as the main propulsive muscles at the thigh are not majorly affected. The demands on the cardiopulmonary and respiratory system increased slightly in the presence of vibration.
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In the field of motor control, two hypotheses have been controversial: whether the brain acquires internal models that generate accurate motor commands, or whether the brain avoids this by using the viscoelasticity of musculoskeletal system. Recent observations on relatively low stiffness during trained movements support the existence of internal models. However, no study has revealed the decrease in viscoelasticity associated with learning that would imply improvement of internal models as well as synergy between the two hypothetical mechanisms. Previously observed decreases in electromyogram (EMG) might have other explanations, such as trajectory modifications that reduce joint torques. To circumvent such complications, we required strict trajectory control and examined only successful trials having identical trajectory and torque profiles. Subjects were asked to perform a hand movement in unison with a target moving along a specified and unusual trajectory, with shoulder and elbow in the horizontal plane at the shoulder level. To evaluate joint viscoelasticity during the learning of this movement, we proposed an index of muscle co-contraction around the joint (IMCJ). The IMCJ was defined as the summation of the absolute values of antagonistic muscle torques around the joint and computed from the linear relation between surface EMG and joint torque. The IMCJ during isometric contraction, as well as during movements, was confirmed to correlate well with joint stiffness estimated using the conventional method, i.e., applying mechanical perturbations. Accordingly, the IMCJ during the learning of the movement was computed for each joint of each trial using estimated EMG-torque relationship. At the same time, the performance error for each trial was specified as the root mean square of the distance between the target and hand at each time step over the entire trajectory. The time-series data of IMCJ and performance error were decomposed into long-term components that showed decreases in IMCJ in accordance with learning with little change in the trajectory and short-term interactions between the IMCJ and performance error. A cross-correlation analysis and impulse responses both suggested that higher IMCJs follow poor performances, and lower IMCJs follow good performances within a few successive trials. Our results support the hypothesis that viscoelasticity contributes more when internal models are inaccurate, while internal models contribute more after the completion of learning. It is demonstrated that the CNS regulates viscoelasticity on a short- and long-term basis depending on performance error and finally acquires smooth and accurate movements while maintaining stability during the entire learning process.
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The present article reviews effects of training at low imposed cadences in cycling. We performed a systematic literature search of MEDLINE and SPORTDiscus up to April 2016 to identify potentially relevant articles. Based on the titles and abstracts of the identified articles, a subset of articles was selected for evaluation. These articles constituted original research articles on adaptation to training at different imposed cadences in cycling. Seven articles were selected for evaluation. With regard to the terminology in the present article, "low cadences" refers to cadences below the freely chosen cadence. Eighty rpm can for example be considered a low cadence if effort is maximal. On the other hand, the cadence has to be lower than 80 rpm (e.g. 40-70 rpm) to be considered low if cycling is performed at low power output. The reason is that the choice of cadence is dependent on power output. In conclusion, there is presently no strong evidence for a benefit of training at low cadences. It can tentatively be recommended to consider including training bouts of cycling at low cadence at moderate to maximal intensity. The reason for the restrained recommendation is the following. Some of the selected studies indicate no clear performance enhancing effect of training at low cadence, or even indicate a superior effect from training at freely chosen cadence. Furthermore, the selected studies are considerably dissimilar with respect to e.g. participant characteristics and to the applied training regimens.
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Purpose: The present study investigates the effect of cadence on joint specific power and oxygenation and local muscle oxygen consumption in the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis in addition to the relationship between joint specific power and local muscle oxygen consumption (mVO2). Methods: Seventeen recreationally active cyclists performed 6 stages of constant load cycling using cadences of 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 and 110 rpm. Joint specific power was calculated using inverse dynamics and mVO2 and oxygenation were measured using near-infrared spectroscopy. Results: Increasing cadence led to increased knee joint power and decreased hip joint power while the ankle joint was unaffected. Increasing cadence also led to an increased deoxygenation in both the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis. Vastus lateralis mVO2 increased when cadence was increased. No effect of cadence was found for vastus medialis mVO2. Conclusion: This study demonstrates a different effect of cadence on the mVO2 of the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis. The combined mVO2 of the vastus lateralis and medialis showed a linear increase with increasing knee joint specific power, demonstrating that the muscles combined related to power generated over the joint.
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The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of external work rate on joint specific power and the relationship between knee extension power and vastus lateralis muscle oxygen consumption (mVO2). We measured kinematics and pedal forces and used inverse dynamics to calculate joint power for the hip, knee and ankle joints during an incremental cycling protocol performed by 21 recreational cyclists. Vastus lateralis mVO2 was estimated using near-infrared spectroscopy with an arterial occlusion. The main finding was a non-linear relationship between vastus lateralis mVO2 and external work rate that was characterised by an increase followed by a tendency for a levelling off (R2=0.99 and 0.94 for the quadratic and linear models respectively, p<0.05). When comparing 100W and 225W, there was a ∼43W increase in knee extension but still a ∼9% decrease in relative contribution of knee extension to external work rate resulting from a ∼47W increase in hip extension. When vastus lateralis mVO2 was related to knee extension power, the relationship was still non-linear (R2=0.99 and 0.97 for the quadratic and linear models respectively, p<0.05). These results demonstrate a non-linear response in mVO2 relative to a change in external work rate. Relating vastus lateralis mVO2 to knee extension power showed a better fit to a linear equation compared to external work rate, but it is not a straight line.
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As brain cortical activity depends on cadence, exercise at different pedaling frequencies could provide efficient stimuli for functional adaptations of the brain. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of cadence-specific training on brain cortical activity as well as endurance performance. Randomized, controlled experimental trial in a repeated measure design. Male (n=24) and female (n=12) cyclists were randomly assigned to either a high cadence group (HCT), a low cadence group (LCT) or a control group (CON) for a 4 week intervention period. All groups performed 4h of basic endurance training per week. Additionally, HCT and LCT completed four cadence-specific 60min sessions weekly. At baseline and after 4 weeks subjects performed an incremental test with spirometry as well as an interval session (constant load; varying cadences) with continuous recording of electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythms. In contrast to CON, HCT and LCT elicited similar improvements of maximal oxygen uptake and power at the individual anaerobic threshold. Additionally, there was a reduction of alpha-, beta- and overall-power spectral density in HCT, which was more pronounced at high cadences. Improvements of endurance performance were correlated with reductions of EEG spectral power at 90 and 120rpm. Whereas high and low cadence training elicit similar improvements in endurance performance, brain cortical activity is especially sensitive to high cadence training. Its reduction can be interpreted in the sense of the neural efficiency hypothesis and might as well influence the sensation of central fatigue positively. Copyright © 2015 Sports Medicine Australia. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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