Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Exercise and Health Sciences


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Professor Ken Nosaka

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Tony Blazevich


Eccentric cycling, in which the knee extensor muscles perform eccentric contractions while trying to brake the backward rotational movements of the cranks of a cycle ergometer, has been shown to effectively increase muscle function and volume with a low metabolic cost. However, acute responses to repeated eccentric cycling bouts have not been well documented. Thus, the primary purposes of this PhD project were to investigate muscle damage and metabolic profiles of eccentric cycling in comparison to concentric cycling (Studies 1-3), and muscle-tendon behaviour (Study 4) during eccentric cycling in relation to muscle damage.

Study 1 compared muscle damage and metabolic profiles between a bout of concentric cycling (CONC) and two bouts of eccentric cycling (ECC1, ECC2) performed by 10 healthy men (28 ± 8 y), with a 2-wk interval between bouts. All cycling bouts were performed for 30 min at 60% of CONC maximal power output (POmax). Heart rate (HR), oxygen consumption, blood lactate (BLa) and rate of perceived exertion were 19-65% lower during ECC1 than CONC, and HR and BLa were 12-35% lower during ECC2 than ECC1. Exercise-induced decreases in knee extensor maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque and vertical jump height as well as increases in muscle soreness were significantly greater after ECC1 than CONC and ECC2, and no significant changes in these variables were found one day after CONC and ECC2. It was concluded that eccentric cycling was less metabolically demanding than CONC, and muscle damage was minimal after the second eccentric cycling bout.

Study 2 examined fat and carbohydrate utilisation during and immediately after cycling, and resting energy expenditure before and both 2 and 4 days post-cycling using indirect calorimetry. An oral glucose tolerance test was performed before, and 1 and 3 days post-cycling. Fat utilisation was greater during ECC1 (72%) and ECC2 (85%) than CONC, and was 48% greater during ECC2 than ECC1. Post-exercise energy expenditure and fat utilisation were less after ECC1 than CONC (30% and 52%, respectively), but similar between CONC and ECC2. Glucose uptake increased 3 days post-ECC1. These results suggest greater fat utilisation during and after eccentric than concentric cycling without glucose uptake impairment.

Study 3 tested the hypothesis that rate of force development (RFD) would be a more sensitive marker of muscle damage than MVC torque by comparing the changes in MVC torque and RFD after CONC, ECC1 and ECC2. Decreases in MVC torque were significantly greater immediately and 1-2 days after ECC1 than CONC and ECC2. RFD decreased immediately after all cycling bouts, but RFD measured in the interval 100-200 ms (RFD100-200) decreased at all time points after ECC1 (24-32%) as well as immediately after ECC2 (23%), but did not change after CONC. The magnitude of decrease in RFD100-200 after ECC1 was 7-19% greater than MVC torque. These suggest that RFD100-200 is a more specific and sensitive marker of eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage than MVC torque.

To investigate the mechanisms underpinning the repeated bout effect in eccentric cycling, Study 4 examined the hypothesis that vastus lateralis muscle-tendon behaviour would be different between two (i.e. repeated) eccentric cycling bouts. Eleven healthy men (27.1 ± 7.0 y) performed 10 min of eccentric cycling at 65% of CONC POmax twice (ECC1, ECC2) separated by 2 weeks. Greater muscle soreness was developed 1-2 days after ECC1 than ECC2. Electromyogram and crank torque were similar between bouts, but the magnitude of fascicle elongation during ECC2 was 16% smaller than ECC1. These results suggest that smaller elongation of fascicles was associated with less muscle soreness after ECC2, and possibly the repeated bout effect.

These studies revealed the muscle damage profile of eccentric cycling, one of the potential mechanisms of the repeated bout effect, and metabolic characteristics of repeated eccentric cycling bouts. Since muscle damage is minimal and can be abolished by proper prescription, eccentric cycling may be an ideal exercise for elderly and frail individuals with impaired muscle oxidative function (e.g. diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Further studies are warranted in these populations.