Level ground and uphill cycling efficiency in seated and standing positions

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MILLET, G. P., C. TRONCHE, N. FUSTER, and R. CANDAU. Level ground and uphill cycling efficiency in seated and standing positions. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 34, No. 10, pp. 1645–1652, 2002.PurposeThis study was designed to examine the effects of cycling position (seated or standing) during level-ground and uphill cycling on gross external efficiency (GE) and economy (EC).MethodsEight well-trained cyclists performed in a randomized order five trials of 6-min duration at 75% of peak power output either on a velodrome or during the ascent of a hill in seated or standing position. GE and EC were calculated by using the mechanical power output that was measured by crankset (SRM) and energy consumption by a portable gas analyzer (Cosmed K4b2). In addition, each subject performed three 30-s maximal sprints on a laboratory-based cycle ergometer or in the field either in seated or standing position.ResultsGE and EC were, respectively, 22.4 ± 1.5% (CV = 5.6%) and 4.69 ± 0.33 kJ·L−1 (CV = 5.7%) and were not different between level seated, uphill seated, or uphill standing conditions. Heart rate was significantly (P < 0.05) higher in standing position. In the uphill cycling trials, minute ventilation was higher (P < 0.05) in standing than in seated position. The average 30-s power output was higher (P < 0.01) in standing (803 ± 103 W) than in seated position (635 ± 123 W) or on the stationary ergometer (603 ± 81 W).ConclusionGradient or body position appears to have a negligible effect on external efficiency in field-based high-intensity cycling exercise. Greater short-term power can be produced in standing position, presumably due to a greater force developed per revolution. However, the technical features of the standing position may be one of the most determining factors affecting the metabolic responses.

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