A Novel Cycling Protocol to Estimate Critical Power and the Finite Work Capacity

James Wright, Simon Jobson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    Critical power (CP) and the finite work capacity (Wʹ) are traditionally calculated from multiple time-to-exhaustion tests performed on separate days. The 3 min all-out cycling test was developed in 2007 and provided a practical alternative to the original and time-consuming testing protocol (Vanhatalo, Doust and Burnley, 2007, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39, 548–555). However, some authors have found that the 3 min all-out cycling test significantly overestimates CP (McClave, LeBlanc, and Hawkins 2011, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25, 3093–3098). Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the validity and reliability of a novel all-out cycling test used to estimate CP and Wʹ. This study also investigated the physiological responses to cycling at CP. Following institutional ethics approval, ten participants completed ten tests: 1) an incremental test to exhaustion to calculate gas exchange threshold, maximum aerobic power and peak oxygen uptake, 2–4) three time-to-exhaustion tests performed at 80, 100 and 105% MAP to calculate CP and Wʹ from the power-1/time model (P = Wʹ(1/t)+CP), 5) a 3 min all-out cycling test to calculate end power (EP3min) and work done above EP (WEP3min), 6–7) two novel all-out cycling tests to calculate EP (EPNovel) and WEP (WEPNovel) and 7–10) three time-to-exhaustion tests at CP calculated from each respective protocol. No significant differences were seen between CP and EPNovel (271 ± 32 W vs. 279 ± 38 W, P = 0.293, ES = 0.23) or between CP and EP3min (271 ± 32 W vs. 281 ± 41 W, P = 0.354, ES = 0.27). However, significant differences were seen between Wʹ and WEPNovel (18.0 ± 5.0 kJ vs. 14.0 ± 2.5 kJ, P = 0.021, ES = 0.92) and between Wʹ and WEP3min (18.0 ± 5.0 kJ vs. 11.6 ± 2.8 kJ, P = 0.015, ES = 1.47). Cycling at CP resulted in a power output which was sustainable for less that 20 min with a mean duration of 19 min 48 s observed from the original CP protocol, 15 min 25 s from the 3-minute all-out protocol and 16 min 22 s from the novel all-out protocol. The study concludes that CP can be estimated from a novel all-out cycling test; however, caution should be taken when estimating Wʹ. Furthermore, cycling at CP, irrespective of the method of calculation, results in exhaustion occurring within 20 min.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationJournal of Sports Sciences
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2018
    EventBritish Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) 2018 Annual Conference - Harrogate, United Kingdom
    Duration: 28 Nov 201829 Nov 2018


    ConferenceBritish Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES) 2018 Annual Conference
    Abbreviated titleBASES 2018
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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