DURHAM, N.H. For competitive bicyclists with goals whether competing in the Tour de France or aiming for the podium at a local race faster cycling comes from training regimens based on various zones of exercise intensity. New research from exercise scientists at the University of New Hampshire has found that effective training regimens, which generally are created after expensive, time-consuming laboratory tests, can be developed from a relatively simple, do-it-yourself test.
Using two tools most competitive cyclists already own -- a power meter, an increasingly common training device that mounts on a bicycle's rear wheel, and a stationary bicycle trainer UNH graduate student Jay Francis '09 modified a three-minute all-out cycling test and found that it is as effective as more lab-intensive measurements for determining exercise intensity. The study, which was Francis's master's thesis, is published in the September 2010 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, the premier journal in the field.
"Power is a very unbiased way of measuring your exercise ability, compared to speed, heart rate, or perceived exertion," says Francis. "A power meter measures how much power you are getting from your body to the road," independent of external conditions like hills, wind, or even what you had for lunch, he adds.
Francis and his advisor, assistant professor Dain LaRoche, wondered if this increasingly common piece of equipment could be used to establish individualized exercise intensity domains training zones that range from moderate to severe that were as accurate as those established with complex laboratory testing.
Francis used a three-minute all-out cycling test "you just push and push and push and never let up" which had previously shown to yield, in the last 30 seconds of the test, a power level that a cyclist can sustain for 20 to 30 minutes. He replaced the expensive and problematic laboratory equipment use
|Contact: Beth Potier|
University of New Hampshire