Effects of different pedalling techniques on muscle fatigue and mechanical efficiency during prolonged cycling

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The present study aimed to test the influence of the pedalling technique on the occurrence of muscular fatigue and on the energetic demand during prolonged constant-load cycling exercise. Subjects performed two prolonged (45 min) cycling sessions at constant intensity (75% of maximal aerobic power). In a random order, participants cycled either with their preferred technique (PT) during one session or were helped by a visual force-feedback to modify their pedalling pattern during the other one (FB). Index of pedalling effectiveness was significantly (P<0.05) improved during FB (41.4±5.5%); compared with PT (36.6±4.1%). Prolonged cycling induced a significant reduction of maximal power output, which was greater after PT (−15±9%) than after FB (−7±12%). During steady-state FB, vastus lateralis muscle activity was significantly (P<0.05) reduced, whereas biceps femoris muscles activities increased compared with PT. Gross efficiency (GE) did not significantly differ between the two sessions, except during the first 15 min of exercise (FB: 19.0±1.9% vs PT: 20.2±1.9%). Although changes in muscular coordination pattern with feedback did not seem to influence GE, it could be mainly responsible for the reduction of muscle fatigue after prolonged cycling.

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