Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2015) 14, 47 - 53

Research article
Prior Knowledge of Trial Number Influences the Incidence of Plateau at VO2max
Dan Gordon1, , Oliver Caddy1, Viviane Merzbach1, Marie Gernigon2, James Baker1, Adrian Scruton1, Don Keiller1, Richard Barnes3
Author Information
1 Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Group, Anglia Ruskin University, UK
2 Laboratory for Vascular Investigations, University Hospital, Angers, France
3 Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, UK

Dan Gordon
✉ Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Group, Anglia Ruskin University, East Road, Cambridge, UK, CB1 1PT
Publish Date
Received: 09-07-2014
Accepted: 29-09-2014
Published (online): 01-03-2015
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The purpose of this study was to assess the VO2max plateau response at VO2max during a series of pre-determined trials. METHODS: Ten male well-trained athletes (age, 23.0 ± 3.2; height, 183.3 ± 5.5 cm; mass 77.5 ± 11.1 Kg; VO2max 66.5 ± 5.0,min-1), but who were VO2max testing naïve and with prior-knowledge of trial number completed four incremental tests to volitional exhaustion, separated by ~72-h for the determination of VO2max and gas exchange threshold. Throughout all trials VO2max was recorded on a breath-by-breath basis using a pre-calibrated metabolic cart, using a plateau criterion of Δ VO2 ≤1.5 over the final 2 consecutive 30 s sampling periods. A significant difference was observed between trial-1 and trial-4 for plateau incidence (p = 0.0285) rising from 20% in trial-1 to a 70% response rate in trial-4. Furthermore a significant difference was observed for VO2dif (difference between criterion value and Δ VO2) in trial-1, 1.02 ± 1.69 (p = 0.038), with non-significant differences observed for all other trials, despite a non-significant difference for VO2max across all trials (p > 0.05). Finally, a significant difference was observed for effort perception (RPE) at volitional exhaustion between trial-1 (17.7 ± 1.3) and trial-4 (19.0 ± 1.4) (p = 0.0052). These data indicate that prior-knowledge of trial number can influence the manifestation of the VO2 plateau in a group of well-trained male athletes, thereby suggesting that a form of effort control is established in order to preserve the finite anaerobic capacity.

Key words: Maximal oxygen uptake, effort control, anaerobic capacity, experience

           Key Points
  • In well-trained athletes the incidence of plateau at VO2max increases in conjunction with an increase in trial number and the associated sensations of pain and fatigue.
  • By informing the participant of the number of trials to be completed a closed-loop condition is developed whereby effort in all trials is compared to a perceptually developed template.
  • Closed-loop condition leads to a sparing of the finite anaerobic capacity during incremental tests when the number of trials to be completed is known.
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