Pedaling cadence does not affect aerobic performance during an incremental maximal test among male and female adult cyclists
Keywords:cycling, aerobic capacity, cycling cadence, optimal cadence, performance
The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effect of pedaling at the energetically optimal cadence (EOC) on aerobic capacity and cycling efficiency in experienced male and female adult cyclists. Twenty-four experienced cyclists underwent a progressive, maximal metabolic exercise test on a cycling ergometer pedaling at their freely chosen cadence (FCC). EOC was determined by maintaining an output of 65% of peak power during seven consecutive 3-minute stages of cadences between 50 rpm to 110 rpm in 10 rpm increments in a randomized order. Cyclists were then randomized to either an FCC or EOC group and performed a second maximal exercise test. Oxygen consumption (VO2max), time to exhaustion (Tmax), ventilatory threshold (VO2VT) and time to ventilatory threshold (TVT) were compared between the FCC and EOC groups. Submaximal average oxygen consumption was significantly higher during FCC (85±11 rpm) than EOC (60±8 rpm; 38.2±6.64 ml/kg/min v. 35±7.7 ml/kg/min, p<0.001). There were no significant interactions between group and order of maximal exercise tests with respect to VO2max (b=1.59, p=0.38), Tmax (b=0.31, p=0.55), VO2VT (b=0.05, p=0.98) or TVT (b=0.18, p=0.82). FCC was significantly lower among female cyclists compared to male cyclists. We conclude that cycling at EOC at submaximal workloads demands less oxygen consumption than FCC, but does not significantly improve VO2max, and that there may be sex-specific differences with regards to FCC among experienced adult cyclists.
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