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The influence of body position on maximal performance in cycling

Summary

Six healthy male subjects performed a 3-min supramaximal test in four different cycling positions: two with different trunk angles and two with different saddle-tube angles. Maximal power output and maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) were measured. Maximal power output was significantly higher in a standard sitting (SS, 381 W, SD 49) upright position compared to all other positions: standard racing (SR, 364 W, SD 49), recumbent backwards (RB, 355 W, SD 44) and recumbent forwards (RF, 341 W, SD 54). Although VO2max was also highest in SS (4.31 l · min−1, SD 0.5) upright position, the differences in VO2max were not significant (SR, 4.21 · min−1, SD 0.53; RB, 4.17 l · min−1, SD 0.58; RF, 4.11 l · min−1, SD 0.66). It is concluded that (supra)maximal tests on a cycle ergometer should be performed in a sitting upright position and not in a racing position. In some cases when cycling on the road, higher speeds can be attained when sitting upright. This is especially true when cycling uphill when high power must be generated to overcome gravity but the road speed, and hence the power required to overcome air resistance, is relatively low.

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Welbergen, E., Clijsen, L.P.V.M. The influence of body position on maximal performance in cycling. Eur J Appl Physiol 61, 138–142 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00236708

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00236708

Key words

  • Body-position
  • Maximal power output
  • Maximal oxygen uptake
  • Cycling