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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993 Sep;25(9):1062-9.

Using maximal and submaximal aerobic variables to monitor elite cyclists during a season.

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Physical Activity Sciences Laboratory, Laval University, Ste-Foy (Quebec), Canada.


The purpose of this study was to identify sensitive physiological indicators for monitoring the progress in training state of elite cyclists throughout a training and competition season. Seven elite male cyclists performed maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) tests and submaximal tests on three or four different occasions during their training and competition season. The submaximal test consisted of three successive 16-min bouts at 150, 200, and 250 W interspersed with rest periods between each load. Pedalling rate varied progressively from 50-120 rpm. Results showed that maximal heart rate (HR), ventilation (Ve), gross mechanical efficiency (MEG), and VO2max did not change during the season. Moreover, ventilation threshold (VT) did not change during the season, nor did HR, Ve, and VO2 at VT. However, changes were found in physiological variables during the submaximal test. HR decreased significantly during the season, as did VO2 (P < 0.05) for a standardized workload. On the other hand, at the higher power outputs (200 W and 250 W) MEG increased during the season. These results suggest that VO2max may not be a good indicator of enhanced capacity in elite cyclists. Rather, a standardized efficiency test during which submaximal variables such as HR, VO2, and MEG are monitored might be a more sensitive indicator of the progress in the training state of elite male cyclists during a training and competition season.

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