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Linear increase in optimal pedal rate with increased power output in cycle ergometry

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This experiment was designed to estimate the optimum pedal rates at various power outputs on the cycle ergometer. Five trained bicycle racers performed five progressive maximal tests on the ergometer. Each rode at pedal rates of 40, 60, 80, 100, and 120 rev·min−1. Oxygen uptake and heart rate were determined from each test and plotted against pedal rate for power outputs of 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 W. Both \(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} }\)and heart rate differed significantly among pedal rates at equivalent power outputs, the variation following a parabolic curve. The low point in the curve was taken as the optimal pedal rate; i.e., the pedal rate which elicited the lowest heart rate or \(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{\text{2}} }\)for a given power output. When the optimum was plotted against power output the variation was linear. These results indicate that an optimum pedal rate exists in this group of cyclists. This optimum pedal rate increases with power output, and when our study is compared to studies in which elite racers, or non-racers were used, the optimum seems to increase with the skill of the rider.

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Coast, J.R., Welch, H.G. Linear increase in optimal pedal rate with increased power output in cycle ergometry. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 53, 339–342 (1985).

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