Specificity of the anaerobic threshold in endurance trained cyclists and runners

  • R. T. Withers
  • W. M. Sherman
  • J. M. Miller
  • D. L. Costill


This study examined the specificity of maximum aerobic power and the anaerobic threshold (AT) in 10 endurance-trained cyclists and 10 endurance-trained runners who performed continuous progressive work tests on the bicycle ergometer and treadmill.

Dependent ‘t’ tests for \(\dot V\)O2 max l/min−1 indicated that the cyclists scored higher on the bicycle ergometer (\(\bar X\)=4.5 l/min−1) than the treadmill (\(\bar X\)=4.34 l/min−1) but the difference was not statistically significant. By contrast, the runners fared significantly better (p<0.05) on the treadmill (\(\bar X\)=68.1 ml/kg·min−1) compared with the bicycle ergometer (\(\bar X\)=61.7 ml/kg·min−1).

When the AT was expressed as a percentage of \(\dot V\)O2 max, there were no significant differences between the cyclists (66.3%) and runners (61.2%) on the bicycle ergometer or the runners (77.3%) and cyclists (74.3%) on the treadmill. However, this tendency for the better score to be registered by the group tested on the activity for which it trained was most pronounced when the AT was expressed in l/min−1 and ml/kg·min−1·Independent ‘t’ tests accordingly indicated that the cyclists (3.0 l/min−1) had significantly (p<0.05) greater AT's than the runners (2.56 l/min−1) on the bicycle ergometer whereas the runners (52.7 ml/kg·min−1) had significantly (p<0.05) higher AT's than the cyclists (46.8 ml/kg·min−1) on the treadmill.

These data suggest that the adaptive responses to exercise are in part a function of the specific movement patterns executed in training. Thus, if \(\dot V\)O2 max and the AT are to be measured in the laboratory, the tests must allow optimal innervation of the specifically trained muscle fibres.

Key words

\(\dot V\)O2 max Anaerobic threshold Bicycle ergometer Treadmill 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. T. Withers
    • 1
  • W. M. Sherman
    • 1
  • J. M. Miller
    • 1
  • D. L. Costill
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Performance LaboratoryBall State UniversityMuncieUSA

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