External exercise information provides no immediate additional performance benefit to untrained individuals in time trial cycling

Br J Sports Med. 2012 Jan;46(1):49-53. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2011-090257. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


Objective: To determine the importance of the provision of external exercise information to the setting of the pacing strategy, in subjects unfamiliar with a cycling task.

Design: Twenty-two healthy, untrained cyclists (VO(2max), 50 ± 9 mL-(1)·kg-(1)·min-(1)) were randomly assigned to a control (CON) group or an experimental (EXP) group and two successive 4 km time trials (TT) were performed, separated by a 17 min recovery. The CON group received distance knowledge and distance feedback; the EXP group received neither, but knew that each TT was to be of the same distance.

Results: No significant difference in completion time (p>0.05) was observed between the groups for either time to complete TT one (TT1) (CON=443 ± 33 s versus EXP=471 ± 63 s) or time to complete TT two (time trial 2) (CON=461 ± 37 s versus EXP=501 ± 94 s). No significant difference in the final RPE was observed between groups. However, a significant interaction for RPE (rating of perceived exertion)×TT in the CON was observed (F7,70=5.32, p<0.05), with significantly higher RPE values in the final kilometre of TT2 (p<0.05).

Conclusion: The lack of any performance improvement in either group, despite the differences in exercise information received, indicates both a reliance on the afferent feedback for setting a pacing strategy and slow learning effect from practice in subjects unfamiliar with the task. The modification in RPE profile observed in the CON, despite no performance improvement, suggests exercise perception based changes may pre-empt work rate based changes and thus not immediately translate to improved performance.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Feedback
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult