Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of pacing strategy on pulmonary VO2 kinetics and performance during high-intensity exercise.
Methods: Seven males completed 3- and 6-min bouts of cycle exercise on three occasions with the bouts initiated using an even-start (ES; constant work rate), fast-start (FS), or slow-start (SS) pacing strategy. In all conditions, subjects completed an all-out sprint over the final 60 s of the test as a measure of performance.
Results: For the 3-min exercise bouts, the mean response time (MRT) for the VO2 kinetics over the pacing phase was shortest in FS (35 ± 6 s), longest in SS (55 ± 14 s), and intermediate in ES (41 ± 10 s) (P < 0.05 for all comparisons). For the 6-min bouts, the VO2 MRT was longer in SS (56 ± 15 s) than that in FS and ES (38 ± 7 and 42 ± 6 s, respectively, P < 0.05). The VO2 at the end of exercise was not different from the VO2max during the 6-min exercise bouts or 3-FS but was lower than VO2max for 3-ES and 3-SS (P < 0.05). The end-sprint performance was significantly enhanced in 3-FS compared with 3-ES and 3-SS (mean power = 374 ± 68 vs 348 ± 61 and 345 ± 71 W, respectively; P < 0.05). However, end-sprint performance was unaffected by pacing strategy in the 6-min bouts.
Conclusions: These data indicate that an FS pacing strategy significantly improves performance during 3-min bouts of high-intensity exercise by speeding VO2 kinetics and enabling the attainment of VO2max.