The relationship between neuromuscular function and the W’ in elite cyclists

Mehdi Kordi, Len Parker-Simpson, Kevin Thomas, Stuart Goodall, Tom Madden-Wilkinson, Campbell Menzies, Glyn Howatson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose: The aim of the study was to assess the association between the (W prime) W and measures of neuromuscular function relating to the capacity of skeletal muscle to produce force in a group of elite cyclists. Methods: Twenty-two athletes specialising in a range of disciplines and competing internationally volunteered to participate. Athletes completed assessments of maximum voluntary torque (MVT), voluntary activation (VA), and isometric maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) to measure rate of torque development (RTD). This was followed by assessment of peak power output (PPO), and 3-, 5- and 12-minute time trials to determine critical power (CP). Pearson’s correlation was used to examine associations with CP and W’. Goodness-of-fit was calculated, and significant relationships were included in a linear step-wise regression model. Results: Significant positive relationships were evident between W′ and MVT (r = 0.82), and PPO (r = 0.70), and RTD200 (r = 0.59), but not with RTD 50 and VA. Correlations were also observed between CP and RTD200 and MVT (r = 0.54, and r = 0.51, respectively), but not with PPO, VA or RTD50. The regression analysis found 87% of the variability in W′ (F1, 18 = 68.75; p < 0.001) was explained by two variables: MVT (81%) and PPO (6%). Conclusions: It is likely that muscle size and strength, as opposed to neural factors, contribute meaningfully to W’. These data can be used to establish training methods to enhance W’ in order to improve cycling performance in well trained athletes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Jan 2021

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