Effect of Environmental and Feedback Interventions on Pacing Profiles in Cycling: A Meta-Analysis

Michael Davies, Bradley Clark, Marijke Welvaert, Sabrina Skorski, Laura Garvican-Lewis, Philo Saunders, Kevin Thompson

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    27 Citations (Scopus)
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    In search of their optimal performance athletes will alter their pacing strategy according to intrinsic and extrinsic physiological, psychological and environmental factors. However, the effect of some of these variables on pacing and exercise performance remains somewhat unclear. Therefore, the aim of this meta-analysis was to provide an overview as to how manipulation of different extrinsic factors affects pacing strategy and exercise performance. Only self-paced exercise studies that provided control and intervention group(s), reported trial variance for power output, disclosed the type of feedback received or withheld, and where time-trial power output data could be segmented into start, middle and end sections; were included in the meta-analysis. Studies with similar themes were grouped together to determine the mean difference (MD) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) between control and intervention trials for: hypoxia, hyperoxia, heat-stress, pre-cooling, and various forms of feedback. A total of 26 studies with cycling as the exercise modality were included in the meta-analysis. Of these, four studies manipulated oxygen availability, eleven manipulated heat-stress, four implemented pre-cooling interventions and seven studies manipulated various forms of feedback. Mean power output (MPO) was significantly reduced in the middle and end sections (p < 0.05), but not the start section of hypoxia and heat-stress trials compared to the control trials. In contrast, there was no significant change in trial or section MPO for hyperoxic or pre-cooling conditions compared to the control condition (p > 0.05). Negative feedback improved overall trial MPO and MPO in the middle section of trials (p < 0.05), while informed feedback improved overall trial MPO (p < 0.05). However, positive, neutral and no feedback had no significant effect on overall trial or section MPO (p > 0.05). The available data suggests exercise regulation in hypoxia and heat-stress is delayed in the start section of trials, before significant reductions in MPO occur in the middle and end of the trial. Additionally, negative feedback involving performance deception may afford an upward shift in MPO in the middle section of the trial improving overall performance. Finally, performance improvements can be retained when participants are informed of the deception.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number591
    Pages (from-to)1-24
    Number of pages24
    JournalFrontiers in Physiology
    Issue numberDEC
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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