Resistive force selection during brief cycle ergometer exercise: power profiles of rugby union players

J.S. Baker, B. Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


High intensity exercise tests are designed to measure maximal power output. We propose that the peak power output (PPO) is influenced by the experimental protocol used to measure it, and that the external optimal load is closely matched to the capacity of the active muscle.

We measured power values generated during brief high intensity cycle ergometry in which the loading protocols depended on total body mass (TBM) or fat free mass (FFM).


International rugby union players (forwards and backs; n=16) volunteered as subjects. Body density was calculated from the sum of skinfold thicknesses, with fat mass ascertained from body density values. Subjects were required to pedal maximally on a cycle ergometer (Monark 864) against random loads ranging from 70–95 (TBM or FFM protocol) for a 6 second period.

PPO for backs and forwards using the TBM protocol were 1108 ± 84 W vs 1393 ± 144 W respectively. Using the FFM protocol the peak power output values increased (P <0.01) for both groups (1163 ± 100 W for backs vs 1481 ± 137 W forwards). Differences in performance (P <0.01) were observed between forwards and backs for power output, cradle resistive forces and pedal revolutions (6.7 ± 0.6 kg TBM vs 6.2 ± 0.5 kg FFM for backs; 8.9 ± 0.9 kg TBM vs 8.2 ± 0.9 kg FFM for forwards; 143 ± 8.6 rpm-1 TBM vs 147 ± 5.2 rpm-1 FFM for backs; 137 ± 8.2 rpm-1 TBM vs 147 ± 5.2 rpm-1 FFM for forwards).

The findings of this study suggest that rugby union forwards are more powerful than rugby union backs. Increased peak power output values observed during optimisation procedures for FFM, indicate that this protocol represents a method by which greater peak power can be obtained consistently during high intensity cycle ergometry. Loading procedures that relate to the active muscle tissue utilised during this type of exercise may need to be explored in preference to protocols that include both lean and fat masses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S337-S337
Number of pages1
JournalMedicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Issue numberSupplement 5
Publication statusPublished - May 2003
Externally publishedYes


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