Comparison of the influence of age on cycling efficiency and the energy cost of running in well-trained triathletes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

European Journal of Applied Physiology




School of Medical and Health Sciences




Peiffer, J., Abbiss, C. R., Sultana, F., Bernard, T., Brisswalter, J. (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, 116(1), 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.



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