JOURNAL ARTICLE

The effect of extrinsic motivation on cycle time trial performance

Michiel Hulleman, Jos J De Koning, Florentina J Hettinga, Carl Foster
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2007, 39 (4): 709-15
17414810

PURPOSE: Athletes occasionally follow pacing patterns that seem unreasonably aggressive compared with those of prerace performances, potentially because of the motivation provided by competition. This study evaluated the effect of extrinsic motivation on cyclists' time trial performance.

METHODS: Well-trained recreational cyclists (N=7) completed four 1500-m laboratory time trials including a practice trial, two self-paced trials, and a trial where a monetary reward was offered. Time, total power output, power output attributable to aerobic and anaerobic metabolic sources, VO2, and HR were measured.

RESULTS: The time required for the second, third, and last (extrinsically motivated) time trials was 133.1 +/- 2.1, 134.1 +/- 3.4, and 133.6 +/- 3.0 s, respectively, and was not different (P>0.05). There were no differences for total (396 +/- 19, 397 +/- 23, and 401 +/- 17 W), aerobic (253 +/- 12, 254 +/- 10, and 246 +/- 13 W), and anaerobic (143 +/- 14, 143 +/- 21, and 155 +/- 11 W) power output. The highest VO2 was not different over consecutive time trials (3.76 +/- 0.19, 3.73 +/- 0.16, and 3.71 +/- 0.22 L x min(-1)). When ranked by performance, without reference to the extrinsic motivation (131.9 +/- 2.4, 133.4 +/- 2.4, and 135.4 +/- 2.5 s), there was a significant difference for the first 100 m and from 100 to 300 m in power output, with a larger total power (560 +/- 102, 491 +/- 82, and 493 +/- 93; and 571 +/- 94, 513 +/- 41, and 484 +/- 88 W) and power attributable to anaerobic sources (446 +/- 100, 384 +/- 80, and 324 +/- 43; and 381 +/- 87, 383 +/- 90, and 289 +/- 91 W) for the fastest trial.

CONCLUSION: Extrinsic motivation did not change the time trial performance, suggesting that 1500-m performance is extremely stable and not readily changeable with simple external motivation. The results suggest that spontaneous improvement in performance for time trials of this duration is attributable to greater early power output, which is primarily attributable to anaerobic metabolic sources.

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