Factors associated with the selection of the freely chosen cadence in non-cyclists

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Journal Article
European Journal Of Applied Physiology, 2009, 106 (5), pp. 705 - 712
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The purpose of this study was to examine both the freely chosen cadence (FCC) and the physical variables associated with cadence selection in non-cyclists. Eighteen participants pedalled at 40, 50, and 60% of their maximal power output (determined by a maximal oxygen uptake test, W (max)), whilst cadence (50, 65, 80, 95, 110 rpm, and FCC) was manipulated. Gross efficiency, was used to analyse the most economical cadence whilst central and peripheral ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were used to measure the most comfortable cadence and the cadence whereby muscle strain was minimised. Peak (T (peak)), mean crank torque (T (mean)) and the crank torque profile were analysed at 150 and 200 W at cadences of 50, 65, 80, 95, and 110 rpm in order to determine the mechanical load. FCC was found to be approximately 80 rpm at all workloads and was significantly higher than the most economical cadence (50 rpm). At 60% W (max), RPE peripheral was minimised at 80 rpm which coincided with the FCC. Both T (peak) and T (mean) decreased as cadence increased and, conversely, increased as power output increased. An analysis of the crank torque profile showed that the crank angle at both the top (DPtop) and the bottom (DPbot) dead point of the crank cycle at 80 rpm occurred later in the cycling revolution when compared to 50 rpm. The findings suggested that the FCC in non-cyclists was more closely related to variables that minimise muscle strain and mechanical load than those associated with minimising metabolic economy.
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