Effect of heat and heat acclimatization on cycling time trial performance and pacing

Sebastien Racinais, Julien D Périard, Anders Karlsen, Lars Nybo
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2015, 47 (3): 601-6

PURPOSE: This study aimed to determine the effects of heat acclimatization on performance and pacing during outdoor cycling time trials (TT, 43.4 km) in the heat.

METHODS: Nine cyclists performed three TT in hot ambient conditions (TTH, approximately 37°C) on the first (TTH-1), sixth (TTH-2), and 14th (TTH-3) days of training in the heat. Data were compared with the average of two TT in cool condition (approximately 8°C) performed before and after heat acclimatization (TTC).

RESULTS: TTH-1 (77 ± 6 min) was slower (P = 0.001) than TTH-2 (69 ± 5 min), and both were slower (P < 0.01) than TTC and TTH-3 (66 ± 3 and 66 ± 4 min, respectively), without differences between TTC and TTH-3 (P > 0.05). The cyclists initiated the first 20% of all TT at a similar power output, irrespective of climate and acclimatization status; however, during TTH-1, they subsequently had a marked decrease in power output, which was partly attenuated after 6 d of acclimatization and was further reduced after 14 d. HR was higher during the first 20% of TTH-1 than that in the other TT (P < 0.05), but there were no differences between conditions from 30% onward. Final rectal temperature was similar in all TTH (40.2°C ± 0.4°C, P = 1.000) and higher than that in TTC (38.5°C ± 0.6°C, P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: After 2 wk of acclimatization, trained cyclists are capable of completing a prolonged TT in a similar time in the heat compared with cool conditions, whereas in the unacclimatized state, they experienced a marked decrease in power output during the TTH.

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