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Effects of active recovery on power output during repeated maximal sprint cycling

Abstract

The effects of active recovery on metabolic and cardiorespiratory responses and power output were examined during repeated sprints. Male subjects (n = 13) performed two maximal 30-s cycle ergometer sprints, 4 min apart, on two separate occasions with either an active [cycling at 40 (1)% of maximal oxygen uptake; mean (SEM)] or passive recovery. Active recovery resulted in a significantly higher mean power output (\(\bar W\)) during sprint 2, compared with passive recovery [\(\bar W\)] 603 (17) W and 589 (15) W, P < 0.05]. This improvement was totally attributed to a 3.1 (1.0)% higher power generation during the initial 10 s of sprint 2 following the active recovery (P < 0.05), since power output during the last 20 s sprint 2 was the same after both recoveries. Despite the higher power output during sprint 2 after active recovery, no differences were observed between conditions in venous blood lactate and pH, but peak plasma ammonia was significantly higher in the active recovery condition [205 (23) vs 170 (20) μmol · 1−1;P < 0.05]. No differences were found between active and passive recovery in terms of changes in plasma volume or arterial blood pressure throughout the test. However, heart rate between the two 30-s sprints and oxygen uptake during the second sprint were higher for the active compared with passive recovery [148 (3) vs 130 (4) beats · min−1;P < 0.01) and 3.3 (0.1) vs 2.8 (0.1) 1 · min−1;P < 0.01]. These data suggest that recovery of power output during repeated sprint exercise is enhanced when low-intensity exercise is performed between sprints. The beneficial effects of an active recovery are possibly mediated by an increased blood flow to the previously exercised muscle.

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Correspondence to Mary E. Nevill.

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Bogdanis, G.C., Nevill, M.E., Lakomy, H.K.A. et al. Effects of active recovery on power output during repeated maximal sprint cycling. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 74, 461–469 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02337727

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Key words

  • Sprint cycling
  • Fatigue
  • Recovery
  • Blood lactate
  • Blood pH
  • Arterial blood pressure