Optimal pedalling rate in prolonged bouts of cycle ergometry

J. Richard Coast, Ronald H. Cox, Hugh G. Welch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


COAST, J. R., R. H. COX, and H. G. WELCH. Optimal pedalling rate in prolonged bouts of cycle ergometry. Med Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 225-230, 1986. This study was designed to investigate the variables which contribute to the determination of optimal pedalling rate in cycling. Five trained bicycle racers were used as subjects for the study. The experiment consisted of five 20-to 30-min tests at about 85% of each subject's pre-determined V˙O2max. Pedal rates of 40, 60, 80, 100, and 120 rpm were used. In the experiment, efficiency, heart rate, and perceived exertion measures were obtained at 10 and 20 min of exercise. Blood lactate concentration and plasma levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine were measured at rest, during the exercise sampling periods, and at 5 min of recovery following the exercise bout. When compared across pedal rates, gross efficiency, heart rate, and perceived exertion all were minimal at 60 or 80 rpm for each sampling period. Blood lactate showed the same relationship to pedal rate as the preceding variables at 10 min of exercise but not late in the test. The catecholamine values appeared to follow a similar trend but not significantly. The experiment showed that for this group of cyclists an optimal pedal rate existed for a prolonged period of exercise and was evident in measures of both efficiency and perceived exertion. The experiment indicates that, for researchers and for cyclists who use high power outputs, the choice of pedal rate is an important one.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-230
Number of pages6
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1986


  • Bicycling
  • Cadence
  • Efficiency
  • Exertion
  • Lactate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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