We tested the hypothesis that the power output attained at the end of a 3-min all-out cycling test would be equivalent to critical power.
Ten habitually active subjects performed a ramp test, two 3-min all-out tests against a fixed resistance to establish the end-test power (EP) and the work done above the EP (WEP), and five constant-work rate tests to establish the critical power (CP) and the curvature constant parameter (W') using the work-time and 1/time models.
The power output in the 3-min trial declined to a steady level within 135 s. The EP was 287 +/- 55 W, which was not significantly different from, and highly correlated with, CP (287 +/- 56 W; P = 0.37, r = 0.99). The standard error for the estimation of CP using EP was approximately 6 W, and in 8 of 10 cases, EP agreed with CP to within 5 W. Similarly, the WEP derived from the 3-min test (15.0 +/- 4.7 kJ) was not significantly different from, and correlated with, W' (16.0 +/- 3.8 kJ; P = 0.35; r = 0.84).
During a 3-min all-out cycling test, power output declined to a stable value in approximately the last 45 s, and this power output was not significantly different from the independently measured critical power.