Sprint performance-duration relationships are set by the fractional duration of external force application

Peter G. Weyand, Jennifer E. Lin, Matthew W. Bundle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


We hypothesized that the maximum mechanical power outputs that can be maintained during all-out sprint cycling efforts lasting from a few seconds to several minutes can be accurately estimated from a single exponential time constant (kcycle) and two measurements on individual cyclists: the peak 3-s power output (Pmech max) and the maximum mechanical power output that can be supported aerobically (Paer). Tests were conducted on seven subjects, four males and three females, on a stationary cycle ergometer at a pedal frequency of 100 rpm. Peak mechanical power output (P mech max) was the highest mean power output attained during a 3-s burst; the maximum power output supported aerobically (Paer) was determined from rates of oxygen uptake measured during a progressive, discontinuous cycling test to failure. Individual power output-duration relationships were determined from 13 to 16 all-out constant load sprints lasting from 5 to 350 s. In accordance with the above hypothesis, the power outputs measured during all-out sprinting efforts were estimated to within an average of 34 W or 6.6% from Pmech max, Paer, and a single exponential constant (kcycle = 0.026 s-1) across a sixfold range of power outputs and a 70-fold range of sprint trial durations (R2 = 0.96 vs. identity, n = 105; range: 180 to 1,136 W). Duration-dependent decrements in sprint cycling power outputs were two times greater than those previously identified for sprint running speed (k run = 0.013 s-1). When related to the respective times of pedal and ground force application rather than total sprint time, decrements in sprint cycling and running performance followed the same time course (k = 0.054 s-1). We conclude that the duration-dependent decrements in sprinting performance are set by the fractional duration of the relevant muscular contractions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R758-R765
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Aerobic
  • Anaerobic
  • Cycling
  • Fatigue
  • Locomotion
  • Running
  • Skeletal muscle


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