Exploring the performance reserve: Effect of different magnitudes of power output deception on 4,000 m cycling time-trial performance

Mark Stone, Kevin Thomas, Michael Wilkinson, Emma Stevenson, Alan St Clair Gibson, Andrew Jones, Kevin THOMPSON

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    Abstract

    Purpose: The aim of the present study was to investigate whether a magnitude of deception of 5% in power output would lead to a greater reduction in the amount of time taken for participants to complete a 4000 m cycling TT than a magnitude of deception of 2% in power output, which we have previously shown can lead to a small change in 4000 m cycling TT performance. Methods: Ten trained male cyclists completed four, 4000 m cycling TTs. The first served as a habituation and the second as a baseline for future trials. During trials three and four participants raced against a pacer which was set, in a randomized order, at a mean power output equal to 2% (+2% TT) or 5% (+5% TT) higher than their baseline performance. However participants were misled into believing that the power output of the pacer was an accurate representation of their baseline performance on both occasions. Cardiorespiratory responses were recorded throughout each TT, and used to estimate energy contribution from aerobic and anaerobic metabolism. Results: Participants were able to finish the +2% TT in a significantly shorter duration than at baseline (p = 0.01), with the difference in performance likely attributable to a greater anaerobic contribution to total power output (p = 0.06). There was no difference in performance between the +5% TT and +2% TT or baseline trials. Conclusions: Results suggest that a performance reserve is conserved, involving anaerobic energy contribution, which can be utilised given a belief that the exercise will be sustainable however there is an upper limit to how much deception can be tolerated. These findings have implications for performance enhancement in athletes and for our understanding of the nature of fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0173120
    Pages (from-to)1-13
    Number of pages13
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume12
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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