Date Published: February 22, 2019
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Lorents Ola Aasvold, Gertjan Ettema, Knut Skovereng, Tiago M. Barbosa.
The effect of cadence and work rate on the joint specific power production in cycling has previously been studied, but research has primarily focused on cadences above 60 rpm, without examining the effect of low cadence on joint contribution to power.
Our purpose was to investigate joint specific power production in recreational and elite cyclists during low- and moderate cycling at a range of different cadences.
18 male cyclists (30.9 ± 2.7 years with a work rate in watt at lactate threshold of 282.3 ± 9.3 W) performed cycling bouts at seven different pedalling rates and three intensities. Joint specific power was calculated from kinematic measurements and pedal forces using inverse dynamics at a total of 21 different stages.
A main effect of cadence on the relative to the total joint power for hip-, knee- and ankle joint power was found (all p < 0.05). Increasing cadence led to increasing knee joint power and decreasing hip joint power (all p < 0.05), with the exception at low cadence (<60 rpm), where there was no effect of cadence. The elite cyclists had higher relative hip joint power compared to the recreational group (p < 0.05). The hip joint power at moderate intensity with a freely chosen cadence (FCC) was lower than the hip joint power at low intensity with a low cadence (<60 rpm) (p < 0.05). This study demonstrates that there is an effect of cadence on the hip- and knee joint contribution in cycling, however, the effect only occurs from 60 rpm and upward. It also demonstrates that there is a difference in joint contribution between elite- and recreational cyclists, and provide evidence for the possibility of achieving higher relative hip joint power at low intensity than moderate intensity by altering the cadence.
The effect of cadence on cycling performance has been studied extensively with a majority of studies focusing on cycling energetics . A number of studies have also focused on the effect of cadence on cycling technique and coordination [2–4]. These studies show that changing cadence leads to numerous technical responses, such as changes in muscle activation and force effectiveness [1, 5, 6].
The mean external work rate calculated from the pedal forces for all cadences were 152.6 ± 8.8 W at Int55, 245.0 ± 8.2 W at Int85 and 290.4 ± 9.6 W at IntLT. Fig 1 shows the external power against cadence. The different cadence conditions led to differences in the external work rate of 6.2 ± 0.8, 2.1 ± 0.1 and 3.4 ± 0.6 W at Int55, Int85 and IntLT respectively.
The purpose of this study was to investigate joint-specific power production during low- and moderate cycling at a range of different cadences and additionally to investigate differences in the effect of cadence and work rate between elite and recreational cyclists. The main findings of this study were that an increase in cadence leads to a decrease in relative hip joint power and an increase in relative knee joint power. However, the effect of cadence on the relative hip- and knee joint power only occurred from and above 60 rpm.
The present study demonstrates that increasing cadence leads to a decrease in relative hip joint power and an increase in relative knee joint power, however, the effect of cadence only occurs from and above 60 rpm. The study also provides evidence for the possibility of achieving higher hip joint power at low intensity as at moderate intensity by altering the cadence. The findings from the present study provide further knowledge about the effect of cadence and intensity on the joint power contribution among cyclist. These results may have implications for researchers, coaches and athletes in the field of cycling.