K. Rahn, J. K. Christianson, A. Eshoff, M. Enman, and W. M. Silvers

Whitworth University, Spokane, WA

Cycling at different cadences at a set workload has been shown to elicit different physiological responses in the body. Recreational and competitive cyclists often search for an “optimal” cadence and workload to maximize their performance and metabolic efficiency. Many researchers have examined cadence optimization; however, no researchers have tested an exclusively female population. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of cycling at three different cadences (60, 80, and 100 rpm) on oxygen consumption (VO2) and heart rate (HR) at a set workload in recreationally active females. METHODS: Eight females (n=8), ages 19-51 yrs. old, volunteered to participate in this study. All sessions were performed on a recumbent cycle ergometer. The first session was a maximal oxygen consumption protocol to determine maximal power output (Wmax). In the second session, participants cycled for one trial at each cadence (60, 80, and 100 rpm) for eight minutes, in a randomized order, at 60% Wmax. Each trial was separated by five to eight minutes of absolute rest until the participants’ heart rate was below 80 bpm. RESULTS: Cycling at 60 rpm required significantly less VO2 (p < 0.05) than at 80 and 100 rpm, and cycling at 80 rpm required significantly less VO2 (p < 0.05) than at 100 rpm. HR at 100 rpm was significantly higher (p < 0.05) than at 60 and 80 rpm, but no significant difference (p > 0.05) was found between HR at 60 and 80 rpm. CONCLUSIONS: These observations were similar to previous findings in similar cadence experiments. It is possible that these findings were observed because slower cadences elicited fewer muscular contractions (even though they had to be stronger contractions to maintain the workload), which required less oxygen consumption. As a result, HR likely decreased because less blood was needed to transport oxygen to the working muscles. Further research is needed to investigate the effects of cadence when using an upright cycle ergometer and during prolonged cycling sessions, as well as the effect of cadence on rate of perceived exertion (RPE).

This document is currently not available here.