Effect of push frequency on the economy of wheelchair racers

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Jan;32(1):174-81. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200001000-00026.


Purpose: The aim of the study was to examine the effect of varying push frequency on pushing economy (oxygen uptake at a given speed).

Methods: Eight male wheelchair racers completed a series of exercise bouts on a wheelchair ergometer (Bromking Turbo Trainer, Bromakin, UK) at 6.58 m x s(-1). Initially, subjects self-selected their freely chosen push frequency (FCF); this was followed by 4 random trials pushing at 60, 80, 120, and 140% of this FCF. Steady state VO2 was determined using Douglas bags, and heart rate was recorded by telemetry. After each condition, a small capillary blood sample was obtained and analyzed for blood lactate concentration (BLa) and a rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was recorded.

Results: At 6.58 m x s(-1) oxygen uptake, RPE, and gross mechanical efficiency were nonlinearly related to push frequency. Analysis of variance showed a significant effect (P < 0.05) of cycle frequency on VO2. VO2 was 11% higher at the 140% FCF compared with the 100% FCF condition. Changes in push frequency had little effect on HR although BLa increased linearly and was higher at the 140% FCF condition compared with 60% FCF (P < 0.05). A two-dimensional sagittal plane video analysis showed large interindividual differences in propulsion style. Both cycle time and the propulsion phase (%) decreased as the push frequency increased. The start angle and end angle of hand contact were similar for conditions, whereas the range of trunk motion decreased with push frequency (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: The results of this study showed that the push frequency had an effect on pushing economy, and that the athletes' FCF was the most economical.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Ergometry
  • Exercise Test
  • Hand / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Perception
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Telemetry
  • Thorax / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Videotape Recording
  • Wheelchairs*


  • Lactic Acid