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      The constant work rate critical power protocol overestimates ramp incremental exercise performance

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          The parameters of the power-duration relationship (i.e., the critical power, CP, and the curvature constant, W′) may theoretically predict maximal performance capability for exercise above the CP. The CP and Wʹ are associated with the parameters of oxygen uptake ( \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$${\dot{\text{V}}}$$\end{document} O 2) kinetics, which can be altered by manipulation of the work-rate forcing function. We tested the hypothesis that the CP and Wʹ derived from constant work-rate (CWR) prediction trials would overestimate ramp incremental exercise performance.


          Thirty subjects (males, n = 28; females, n = 2) performed a ramp incremental test, and 3–5 CWR prediction trials for the determination of the CP and Wʹ. Multiple ramp incremental tests and corresponding CP and Wʹ estimates were available for some subjects such that in total 51 ramp test performances were predicted.


          The ramp incremental test performance (729 ± 113 s) was overestimated by the CP and Wʹ estimates derived from the best (751 ± 114 s, P < 0.05) and worst (749 ± 111 s, P < 0.05) individual fits of CWR prediction trial data. The error in the prediction was inversely correlated with the magnitude of the Wʹ for the best ( r = −0.56, P < 0.05) and worst individual fits ( r = −0.36, P < 0.05).


          The overestimation of ramp incremental performance suggests that the CP and Wʹ derived from different work-rate forcing functions, thus resulting in different \documentclass[12pt]{minimal} \usepackage{amsmath} \usepackage{wasysym} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsbsy} \usepackage{mathrsfs} \usepackage{upgreek} \setlength{\oddsidemargin}{-69pt} \begin{document}$${\dot{\text{V}}}$$\end{document} O 2 kinetics, cannot be used interchangeably. The present findings highlight a potential source of error in performance prediction that is of importance to both researchers and applied practitioners.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Skeletal muscle fatigue: cellular mechanisms.

          Repeated, intense use of muscles leads to a decline in performance known as muscle fatigue. Many muscle properties change during fatigue including the action potential, extracellular and intracellular ions, and many intracellular metabolites. A range of mechanisms have been identified that contribute to the decline of performance. The traditional explanation, accumulation of intracellular lactate and hydrogen ions causing impaired function of the contractile proteins, is probably of limited importance in mammals. Alternative explanations that will be considered are the effects of ionic changes on the action potential, failure of SR Ca2+ release by various mechanisms, and the effects of reactive oxygen species. Many different activities lead to fatigue, and an important challenge is to identify the various mechanisms that contribute under different circumstances. Most of the mechanistic studies of fatigue are on isolated animal tissues, and another major challenge is to use the knowledge generated in these studies to identify the mechanisms of fatigue in intact animals and particularly in human diseases.
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            Metabolic and respiratory profile of the upper limit for prolonged exercise in man.

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              Critical power: implications for determination of V˙O2max and exercise tolerance.

              For high-intensity muscular exercise, the time-to-exhaustion (t) increases as a predictable and hyperbolic function of decreasing power (P) or velocity (V ). This relationship is highly conserved across diverse species and different modes of exercise and is well described by two parameters: the "critical power" (CP or CV), which is the asymptote for power or velocity, and the curvature constant (W') of the relationship such that t = W'/(P - CP). CP represents the highest rate of energy transduction (oxidative ATP production, V˙O2) that can be sustained without continuously drawing on the energy store W' (composed in part of anaerobic energy sources and expressed in kilojoules). The limit of tolerance (time t) occurs when W' is depleted. The CP concept constitutes a practical framework in which to explore mechanisms of fatigue and help resolve crucial questions regarding the plasticity of exercise performance and muscular systems physiology. This brief review presents the practical and theoretical foundations for the CP concept, explores rigorous alternative mathematical approaches, and highlights exciting new evidence regarding its mechanistic bases and its broad applicability to human athletic performance.

                Author and article information

                01392 262815 ,
                Eur J Appl Physiol
                Eur. J. Appl. Physiol
                European Journal of Applied Physiology
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                27 October 2016
                27 October 2016
                : 116
                : 11
                : 2415-2422
                [1 ]Sport and Health Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, St. Luke’s Campus, Heavitree Road, Exeter, EX1 2LU UK
                [2 ]School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Epinal Way, LE11 3TU UK
                Author notes

                Communicated by David C. Poole.

                © The Author(s) 2016

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

                Original Article
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                © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

                Anatomy & Physiology

                performance prediction, power-duration relationship, critical power, w′


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