Handcycling: training effects of a specific dose of upper body endurance training in females

Florentina J. Hettinga*, Mark Hoogwerf, Lucas H.V. van der Woude

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to evaluate a handcycling training protocol based on ACSM guidelines in a well-controlled laboratory setting. Training responses of a specific dose of handcycling training were quantified in a homogeneous female subject population to obtain a more in depth understanding of physiological mechanisms underlying adaptations in upper body training. Methods: 22 female able-bodied participants were randomly divided in a training (T) and control group (C). T received 7-weeks of handcycling training, 3 × 30 min/week at 65 % heart rate reserve (HRR). An incremental handcycling test was used to determine local, exercise-specific adaptations. An incremental cycling test was performed to determine non-exercise-specific central/cardiovascular adaptations. Peak oxygen uptake (peakVO2), heart rate (peakHR) and power output (peakPO) were compared between T and C before and after training. Results: T completed the training sessions at 65 ± 3 % HRR, at increasing power output (59.4 ± 8.2 to 69.5 ± 8.9 W) over the training program. T improved on handcycling peakVO2 (+18.1 %), peakPO (+31.9 %), and peakHR (+4.0 %). No improvements were found in cycling parameters. Conclusion: Handcycling training led to local, exercise-specific improvements in upper body parameters. Results could provide input for the design of effective evidence-based training programs specifically aimed at upper body endurance exercise in females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1387-1394
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number7
Early online date24 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


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