Comparison of the Influence of Age on Cycling Efficiency and the Energy Cost of Running in Well-Trained Triathletes

Document Type



Springer Verlag


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Originally published as : Peiffer, Jeremiah (01.2016). "Comparison of the influence of age on cycling efficiency and the energy cost of running in well-trained triathletes". European journal of applied physiology (1439-6319), 116 (1), p. 195-201. Available here


Introduction: Locomotive efficiency is cited as an important component to endurance performance; however, inconsistent observations of age-related changes in efficiency question its influence in the performance of masters athletes. Purpose: This study examined locomotive efficiency in young and masters triathletes during both a run and cycle test. Methods: Twenty young (28.5 ± 2.6 years) and 20 masters (59.8 ± 1.3 years) triathletes completed an incremental cycling and running test to determine maximal aerobic consumption (VO2max) and the first ventilatory threshold (VT1). Participants then completed 10-min submaximal running and cycling tests at VT1 during which locomotive efficiency was calculated from expired ventilation. Additionally, body fat percentage was determined using skin-fold assessment. Results: During the cycle and run, VO2max was lower in the masters (48.3 ± 5.4 and 49.6 ± 4.8 ml kg−1 min−1, respectively) compared with young (61.6 ± 5.7 and 62.4 ± 5.2 ml kg−1 min−1, respectively) cohort. Maximal running speed and the cycling power output corresponding to VO2max were also lower in the masters (15.1 ± 0.8 km h−1 and 318.6 ± 26.0 W) compared with the young (19.5 ± 1.3 km h−1 and 383.6 ± 35.0 W) cohort. Cycling efficiency was lower (−11.2 %) in the masters compared with young cohort. Similar results were observed for the energy cost of running (+10.8 %); however, when scaled to lean body mass, changes were more pronounced during the run (+22.1 %). Conclusions: Within trained triathletes, ageing can influence efficiency in both the run and cycle discipline. While disregarded in the past, efficiency should be considered in research examining performance in ageing athletes. © 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.