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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2013 April;53(2):154-61

language: English

Effect of cycling competition type on effort based on heart rate and session rating of perceived exertion

Rodriguez-Marroyo J. A. 1, Villa J. G. 1, Fernandez G. 1, Foster C. 2

1 Department of Physical Education and Sports, Institute of Biomedicine (IBIOMED), University of León, León, Spain;
2 Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, USA


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Aim: The aim of this study was to compare the exercise intensity and competition load during Time Trial (TT), Flat (FL), Medium Mountain (MM) and High Mountain (HM) stages based heart rate (HR) and session rating of perceived exertion (RPE).
Methods: We monitored both HR and RPE of 12 professional cyclists during two consecutive 21-day cycling races (Vuelta a España) in order to analyze the exercise intensity and competition load (TRIMPHR and TRIMPRPE).
Results: The highest (P<0.05) mean HR was found in TT (169±2 bpm) versus those observed in FL (135±1 bpm), MM (139±3 bpm), HM (143±1 bpm). However, higher (P<0.05) session RPE were found in HM (7.3±0.2) and MM (7.0±0.3) vs. TT (5.5±0.4) and FL (4.6±0.2). TRIMPHR and TRIMPRPE increased significantly (P<0.05) in the following order: TT, FL, MM and HM. The greatest (P<0.05) TRIMPHR·km-1 and TRIMPRPE·km-1 were obtained in TT (~4 units) and HM (~12 units), respectively. We found significant (p<0.001) correlations between TRIMPHR and TRIMPRPE in TT (r=0.62), FL (r=0.74), MM (r=0.89) and HM (r=0.78).
Conclusion: In conclusion, professional cycling is a highly demanding sport which exercise intensity and competition load varied according to the type of stages. The session RPE method is a valid estimate of internal load during different cycling stage categories.

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j.marroyo@unileon.es