A 3-min all-out cycling test is sensitive to a change in critical power

Anni Vanhatalo, Jonathan H Doust, Mark Burnley
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2008, 40 (9): 1693-9

PURPOSE: The aim of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that a 3-min all-out cycling test would detect a change in critical power (CP) after a 4-wk interval training intervention.

METHODS: Nine habitually active subjects completed a ramp test, two 3-min all-out tests to establish the end power (EP) and the work done above EP (WEP), and three predicting trials to establish CP and W' using the work-time model (W = CPt + W'). After 12 supervised high-intensity interval training sessions over 4 wk, subjects repeated the testing procedures.

RESULTS: The CP increased in all subjects after training (pretraining: 230 +/- 53 W; posttraining: 255 +/- 50 W; t8 = 7.47, P < 0.001), with no statistically significant effect on the W' (pretraining: 17.2 +/- 4.2 kJ; posttraining: 15.5 +/- 3.8 kJ; t8 = 2.03, P = 0.08). The all-out test EP was increased after training from 225 +/- 52 W to 248 +/- 46 W (t8 = 6.26, P < 0.001). The EP and CP estimates before and after training were not different and were highly correlated (pretraining: r = 0.96, P < 0.001; posttraining: r = 0.95, P < 0.001). In addition, the increase in EP was correlated with (r = 0.77, P = 0.016) and not different from (t8 = 0.60, P = 0.57) the increase in CP. There was no change in the WEP from pretraining to posttraining (t8 = 1.89, P = 0.10).

CONCLUSIONS: The present study shows that the 3-min all-out test closely estimates CP across a wide range of aerobic fitness and is sensitive to training-induced changes in CP.

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