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Shorter CWR cycling tests as proxies for longer tests in highly trained cyclists

Citation

du Plessis, Chantelle et al. (2022), Shorter CWR cycling tests as proxies for longer tests in highly trained cyclists, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.76hdr7sxv

Abstract

Severe-intensity constant work rate (CWR) cycling tests simulate the high-intensity competition environment and are useful for monitoring training progression and adaptation, yet impose significant physiological and psychological strain, require substantial recovery, and may disrupt athlete training or competition preparation. A brief, minimally fatiguing test providing comparable information is desirable.

Purpose: To determine whether physiological variables measured during, and functional decline in maximal power output immediately after, a 2-min CWR test can act as a proxy for 4-min test outcomes.

Methods: Physiological stress (V̇O2 kinetics, heart rate, blood lactate concentrations ([La-]b)) was monitored and performance fatigability was estimated (as pre-to-post-CWR changes in 10-s sprint power) during 2- and 4-min CWR tests in 16 high-level cyclists (V̇O2peak=64.4±6.0 ml∙kg-1∙min-1). The relationship between the 2- and 4-min CWR tests and the physiological variables that best relate to the performance fatigability were investigated.

Results: The 2-min CWR test evoked a smaller decline in sprint mechanical power (32% vs. 47%, p<0.001). Both the physiological variables (r=0.66-0.96) and sprint mechanical power (r=0.67-0.92) were independently and strongly correlated between 2- and 4-min tests. Differences in V̇O2peak and [La-]b in both CWR tests were strongly associated with the decline in sprint mechanical power.

Conclusion: Strong correlations between 2- and 4-min severe-intensity CWR test outcomes indicated that the shorter test can be used as a proxy for the longer test. A shorter test may be more practical within the elite performance environment due to lower physiological stress and performance fatigability and should have less impact on subsequent training and competition preparation.