Effect of cycling cadence on contractile and neural properties of knee extensors

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2001 Nov;33(11):1882-8. doi: 10.1097/00005768-200111000-00013.


Purpose: This study investigated the effect of prior prolonged cycling exercise performed at different cadences on subsequent neuromuscular characteristics.

Methods: Eight well-trained triathletes sustained 80% of their maximal aerobic power during 30 min at three cadences: the freely chosen cadence (FCC), FCC-20%, and FCC+20%. Maximal isometric and concentric (120 degrees x s(-1) and 240 degrees x s(-1)) torques were recorded before and after the exercise. Central activation, neural (M-wave), and contractile (isometric muscular twitch) parameters of quadriceps muscle were also analyzed by electrical stimulation of the femoral nerve.

Results: Reductions in maximal isometric (P < 0.01) and concentric torques at 120 degrees x s(-1) (P < 0.05) were found after exercise. Central activation levels fell significantly (P < 0.05) by 13-16% depending on the pedaling rate. Although the M-wave did not significantly change after exercise, the ratio EMG RMS/M-wave amplitude decreased significantly (P < 0.01) on both vastus lateralis and vastus medialis muscles for FCC-20% and FCC but not for FCC+20%. Significant decreases in maximal twitch tension (P < 0.01), maximal rate of twitch development (P < 0.01), and time to half relaxation (P < 0.01) were observed postexercise with no effect of cadence.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that force reduction after prolonged cycling is attributable to both central and peripheral factors but is not influenced by the pedaling rate in a range of FCC +/- 20%.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Knee / innervation
  • Knee / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Torque