Racing an Opponent Alters Pacing, Performance and Muscle Force Decline, But Not RPE

Marco J Konings, Jordan Parkinson, Inge Zijdewind, Florentina Hettinga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

PURPOSE: Performing against a virtual opponent has been shown to invite a change in pacing and improve time trial (TT) performance. This study explored how this performance improvement is established by assessing changes in pacing, neuromuscular function and perceived exertion.

METHODS: After a peak power output test and a familiarization TT, twelve trained cyclists completed two 4-km TTs in randomized order on a Velotron cycle ergometer. Time trial conditions were riding alone (NO), and riding against a virtual opponent (OP). Knee-extensor performance was quantified before and directly after the TT using maximal voluntary contraction force (MVC), voluntary activation (VA) and potentiated doublet-twitch force (PT). Differences between the experimental conditions were examined using Repeated-measures ANOVAs. Linear regression analyses were conducted to associate changes in pacing to changes in MVC, VA and PT.

RESULTS: OP was completed faster than NO (mean power output OP: 289.6±56.1W vs. NO: 272.2±61.6W; p=0.020), mainly due to a faster initial pace. This was accompanied by a greater decline in MVC (MVCpre-vs-post: -17.5±12.4% vs. -11.4±10.9%, P=0.032) and PT (PTpre-vs-post: -23.1±14.0% vs. -16.2±11.4%, P=0.041) after OP compared to NO. No difference between conditions was found for VA (VApre-vs-post: -4.9±6.7% vs. -3.4±5.0%, P=0.274). RPE did not differ between OP and NO.

CONCLUSION: The improved performance when racing against a virtual opponent was associated with a greater decline in voluntary and evoked muscle force compared to riding alone, without a change in perceived exertion, highlighting the importance of human-environment interactions in addition to one's internal state for pacing regulation and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-289
Number of pages7
JournalInternational journal of sports physiology and performance
Volume13
Issue number3
Early online date28-Jun-2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2018

Keywords

  • Journal Article
  • RESPONSES
  • BEHAVIOR
  • TIME TRIAL PERFORMANCE
  • CYCLING EXERCISE
  • NEUROMUSCULAR FATIGUE
  • PERIPHERAL FATIGUE
  • PHYSICAL-ACTIVITY
  • INTENSITY
  • DETERMINANTS
  • DECEPTION

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