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The Measurement Of Maximal (Anaerobic) Power Output On A Cycle Ergometer: A Critical Review

Tarak Driss, Henry Vandewalle

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The interests and limits of the different methods and protocols of maximal (anaerobic) power () assessment are reviewed: single all-out testsversusforce-velocity tests, isokinetic ergometersversusfriction-loaded ergometers, measure of during the acceleration phase or at peak velocity. The effects of training, athletic practice, diet and pharmacological substances upon the production of maximal mechanical power are not discussed in this review mainly focused on the technical (ergometer, crank length, toe clips), methodological (protocols) and biological factors (muscle volume, muscle fiber type, age, gender, growth, temperature, chronobiology and fatigue) limiting in cycling. Although the validity of the Wingate test is questionable, a large part of the review is dedicated to this test which is currently the all-out cycling test the most often used. The biomechanical characteristics specific of maximal and high speed cycling, the bioenergetics of the all-out cycling exercises and the influence of biochemical factors (acidosis and alkalosis, phosphate ions…) are recalled at the beginning of the paper. The basic knowledge concerning the consequences of the force-velocity relationship upon power output, the biomechanics of sub-maximal cycling exercises and the study on the force-velocity relationship in cycling by Dickinson in 1928 are presented in Appendices.