V.R. Gieser, J.T. Droessler, M.J. Dixon, R.L. Wong, & D.B. Thorp

Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

It has been shown that athletes subconsciously pace themselves based on previous experience, given the specific duration or distance of an event. This subconscious or preconceived pace could provide a barrier to achieving maximal performance. It has been suggested that deceiving athletes by altering preconceived time or distance of the event could lead to increased performance. PURPOSE: To determine the effect of temporal deception on peak power (PP), mean power (MP), minimum power (MinP), and fatigue index (FI) during a 30 s Wingate cycling test. It is hypothesized that the expectation of a shorter test duration will elicit increased PP and decreased MinP, thereby decreasing MP and increasing FI. METHODS: Fifteen healthy males (m±SD: age=20.6±0.7 yr, stature=190±7 cm, body mass=78±9 kg, fat free mass (FFM)=69±6 kg) performed three 30 s Wingate tests using a mechanically braked cycle ergometer with 7.5% body weight resistance on separate days. A habituation (H) trial was completed first, followed by control (C) and deception (D) trials in a counterbalanced order. Deception was achieved by informing the subjects one test would be 20 s (which was reinforced both verbally and by a slowed clock throughout the test). The H and C trials were performed with the same clock at normal speed. Power output was monitored throughout all tests. PP, MP, MinP, and FI were calculated and normalized by FFM. FI over the first 20 s (FI0-20) and FI over the last 10 s (FI20-30)were also calculated. Differences between C and D trials were examined using paired t-tests (significant at p < 0.05). RESULTS: PP and MP were not significantly different between trials (PP: C=13.4±0.9 W/kg, D=13.4±0.9 W/kg; MP: C=10.4±0.5 W/kg; D=10.3±0.5 W/kg), but MinP was 3.9% lower in D (C=7.2±0.5 W/kg; D=6.9±0.6 W/kg, p < 0.05). FI and FI20-30 were 4.3% and 16.0% higher, respectively, in the D trial (p < 0.05) despite no significant difference FI20. CONCLUSIONS: Shorter test deception did not elicit an increase in power output: possibly because the perceived time difference between tests was not great enough to elicit a higher initial intensity or because PP was indeed achieved in both conditions. Considering the similar power profile in the first 20 s of the test, it is unlikely that the differences in power for the last 10 s were due to fatigue at the muscle. The significant reduction in power output after 20 s in the deception trial is then likely due to a preprogrammed, subconscious end-point mechanism within the CNS based on expectation and previous experience. As deception did not increase peak power, and lowered power output toward the end of the test, it is not recommended as a technique to increase performance in Wingate tests.

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