The effect of passive versus active recovery on power output over six repeated wingate sprints

Res Q Exerc Sport. 2014 Dec;85(4):519-26. doi: 10.1080/02701367.2014.961055.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to examine the effect of active versus passive recovery on 6 repeated Wingate tests (30-s all-out cycling sprints on a Velotron ergometer).

Method: Fifteen healthy participants aged 29 (SD = 8) years old (body mass index = 23 [3] kg/m(2)) participated in 3 sprint interval training sessions separated by 3 to 7 days between each session during a period of 1 month. The 1st visit was familiarization to 6 cycling sprints; the 2nd and 3rd visits involved a warm-up followed by 6 30-s cycling sprints. Each sprint was followed by 4 min of passive (resting still on the ergometer) or active recovery (pedaling at 1.1 W/kg). The same recovery was used within each visit, and recovery type was randomized between visits.

Results: Active recovery resulted in a 0.6 W/kg lower peak power output in the second sprint (95% confidence interval [CI] [ - 0.2, - 0.8 W/kg], effect size = 0.50, p < .01) and a 0.4 W/kg greater average power output in the 5th and 6th sprints (95% CI [+0.2,+0.6 W/kg], effect size = 0.50, p < .01) compared with passive recovery. There was little difference between fatigue index, total work, or accumulated work between the 2 recovery conditions.

Conclusions: Passive recovery is beneficial when only 2 sprints are completed, whereas active recovery better maintains average power output compared with passive recovery when several sprints are performed sequentially (partial eta squared between conditions for multiple sprints = .38).

Keywords: athletes; athletic performance; bicycle ergometry test; sprint.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Ergometry
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*