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Cadence, Power, And Muscle Activation In Cycle Ergometry.

Brian R MacIntosh, Richard R. Neptune, John F. Horton
Published 2000 · Medicine
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PURPOSE Based on the resistance-rpm relationship for cycling, which is not unlike the force-velocity relationship of muscle, it is hypothesized that the cadence which requires the minimal muscle activation will be progressively higher as power output increases. METHODS To test this hypothesis, subjects were instrumented with surface electrodes placed over seven muscles that were considered to be important during cycling. Measurements were made while subjects cycled at 100, 200, 300, and 400 W at each cadence: 50, 60, 80, 100, and 120 rpm. These power outputs represented effort which was up to 32% of peak power output for these subjects. RESULTS When all seven muscles were averaged together, there was a proportional increase in EMG amplitude each cadence as power increased. A second-order polynomial equation fit the EMG:cadence results very well (r2 = 0.87- 0.996) for each power output. Optimal cadence (cadence with lowest amplitude of EMG for a given power output) increased with increases in power output: 57 +/- 3.1, 70 +/- 3.7, 86 +/- 7.6, and 99 +/- 4.0 rpm for 100, 200, 300, and 400 W, respectively. CONCLUSION The results confirm that the level of muscle activation varies with cadence at a given power output. The minimum EMG amplitude occurs at a progressively higher cadence as power output increases. These results have implications for the sense of effort and preferential use of higher cadences as power output is increased.
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