Cycling Power Outputs Predict Functional Threshold Power And Maximum Oxygen Uptake

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Abstract

Functional threshold power (FTP) has emerged as a correlate of lactate threshold and is commonly assessed by recreational and professional cyclists for tailored exercise programing. To identify whether results from traditional aerobic and anaerobic cycling tests could predict FTP and V˙ O2max, we analysed the association between estimated FTP, maximum oxygen uptake (V˙ O2max [ml.kg-1.min-1]) and power outputs obtained from a maximal cycle ergometry cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) and a 30-s Wingate test in a heterogeneous cohort of cycle-trained and untrained individuals (N=40, mean±SD; age: 32.6±10.6 y; relative V˙ O2max: 46.8±9.1 ml.kg-1.min-1). The accuracy and sensitivity of the prediction equations was also assessed in young men (N=11) before and after a 6-wk sprint interval training intervention.

Moderate to strong positive correlations were observed between FTP, relative V˙ O2max and power outputs achieved during incremental and 30-s Wingate cycling tests (r=.39–.965, all P<.05). While maximum power achieved during incremental cycle testing (Pmax) and relative V˙ O2max were predictors of FTP (r2 =.93), age and FTP (W.kg-1) estimated relative V˙ O2max (r2=.80). Our findings confirm that FTP predominantly relies on aerobic metabolism and indicate both prediction models are sensitive enough to detect meaningful exercise-induced changes in FTP and V˙ O2max. Thus, coaches should consider limiting the time and load demands placed on athletes by conducting a maximal cycle ergometry CPET to estimate FTP. Additionally, a 20-min FTP test is a convenient method to assess V˙ O2max and is particularly relevant for exercise professionals without access to expensive CPET equipment.

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