The effect of pedal rate and time of day on the time to exhaustion from high-intensity exercise

Chronobiol Int. 2006;23(5):1009-24. doi: 10.1080/07420520600920726.


The aim of this study was to examine the supposed influence of pedal rate on the diurnal fluctuation of the time to exhaustion from high-intensity exercise. Eleven male cyclists performed three tests at 06:00 h and three at 18:00 h at a free pedal rate (FPR) and two imposed pedal rates (80% and 120% of the FPR). They performed the tests until exhaustion using a power output corresponding to 95% maximal power (Pmax). Time to exhaustion, rectal temperature, oxygen consumption (.VO2), M. quadriceps, vastus medialis, M. biceps femoris electromyographic Root Mean Square activity rise (RMS slope), and blood lactate concentration were measured. The mean time to exhaustion recorded at 18:00 h (270.6+/-104.8 sec) was greater than at 06:00 h (233.9+/-84.9 sec). The time to exhaustion was significantly greater when the pedal rate was imposed at 80% versus 120% FPR. The blood lactate concentration and absolute core temperature at the point of exhaustion were significantly higher during tests done at 18:00 h. There was no diurnal variation in core temperature increase, .VO2, and RMS slope. The time-of-day effect for every variable did not depend on pedal rate. Diurnal variations in maximal aerobic endurance cannot be explained by a change in aerobic metabolism or in muscular fatigue. The origin of the diurnal variation in the time to exhaustion is likely to lie in greater participation in anaerobic metabolism. Also, the influence of temperature on neuromuscular functioning as an explanation for the diurnal variation in performance cannot be excluded in this study. The hypothesis on the basis of which pedal rate would influence diurnal variations in time to exhaustion in cycling was not validated by this research.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Lactic Acid
  • Oxygen