Factors contributing to lower metabolic demand of eccentric compared with concentric cycling

Document Type

Journal Article


American Physiological Society


School of Medical and Health Sciences


Originally published as : Peñailillo, L., Blazevich, A. J., & Nosaka, K. (2017). Factors contributing to lower metabolic demand of eccentric compared with concentric cycling. Journal of Applied Physiology, 123(4), 884-893. Article can be found here


This study compared muscle-tendon behavior, muscle oxygenation, and muscle activity between eccentric and concentric cycling exercise at the same work output to investigate why metabolic demand is lower during eccentric cycling than with concentric cycling. Eleven untrained men (27.1 ± 7.0 y) performed concentric cycling (CONC) and eccentric cycling (ECC) for 10 min (60 rpm) at 65% of the maximal concentric cycling power output (191 ± 45 W) 4 wk apart. During cycling, oxygen consumption (V̇o2), heart rate (HR), vastus lateralis (VL) tissue total hemoglobin (tHb), and oxygenation index (TOI) were recorded, and muscle-tendon behavior was assessed using ultrasonography. The surface electromyogram (EMG) was recorded from VL, vastus medialis (VM), rectus femoris (RF), and biceps femoris (BF) muscles, and cycling torque and knee joint angle during each revolution were also recorded. Average V̇o2 (−65 ± 7%) and HR (−35 ± 9%) were lower and average TOI was greater (16 ± 1%) during ECC than CONC, but tHb was similar between bouts. Positive and negative cycling peak crank torques were greater (32 ± 21 and 48 ± 24%, respectively) during ECC than CONC, but muscle-tendon unit and fascicle and tendinous tissue length changes during pedal revolutions were similar between CONC and ECC. VL, VM, RF, and BF peak EMG amplitudes were smaller (24 ± 15, 22 ± 18, 16 ± 17, and 18 ± 9%, respectively) during ECC than CONC. These results suggest that the lower metabolic cost of eccentric compared with concentric cycling was due mainly to a lower level of muscle activation per torque output.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study shows that lower oxygen consumption of eccentric compared with concentric cycling at the same workload is explained by lower muscle activity of agonist and antagonist muscles during eccentric compared with during concentric cycling.