Optimum pedalling rates in cycling

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The data for this research publication was collected in Amsterdam by Jerzy Zoladz and Arno Rademaker working under the supervision of Professor Anthony J Sargeant. The concept of optimum movement frequencies in human locomotion had been a long standing interest of Tony Sargeant’s and the results from this study build on earlier studies. It is concluded that choosing a high pedalling rate (around 100 revs/min) when performing high intensity cycling exercise may be beneficial since it provides greater reserve in power generating capability and this may be advantageous to the muscle in terms of resisting fatigue.

Human muscle power generating capability during cycling at different pedalling rates

Jerzy A Zoladz, Arno C H J Rademaker, and Anthony J Sargeant

Experimental Physiology

Exp Physiol. 2000 Jan;85(1):117-24

Abstract
The effect of different pedalling rates (40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 rev min-1) on power generating capability, oxygen uptake (O2) and blood lactate concentration [La]b during incremental tests was studied in seven subjects. No significant differences in O2,max were found (mean +/- S.D., 5.31 +/- 0.13 l min-1). The final external power output delivered to the ergometer during incremental tests (PI,max) was not significantly different when cycling at 60, 80 or 100 rev min-1 (366 +/- 5 W). A significant decrease in PI,max of 60 W was observed at 40 and 120 rev min-1 compared with 60 and 100 rev min-1, respectively (P < 0.01). At 120 rev min-1 there was also a pronounced upward shift of the O2-power output (O2-P) relationship. At 50 W O2 between 80 and 100 rev min-1 amounted to +0.43 l min-1 but to +0.87 l min-1 between 100 and 120 rev min-1. The power output corresponding to 2 and 4 mmol l-1 blood lactate concentration (P[La]2 and P[La]4 ) was also significantly lower (> 50 W) at 120 rev min-1 (P < 0.01) while pedalling at 40, 60, 80 and 100 rev min-1 showed no significant difference. The maximal peak power output (PM, max) during 10 s sprints increased with pedalling rate up to 100 rev min-1. Our study indicates that with increasing pedalling rate the reserves in power generating capability increase, as illustrated by the PI,max/PM,max ratio (54.8, 44.8, 38.1, 34.6, 29.2%), the P[La]4/PM,max ratio (50.4, 38.9, 31.0, 27.7, 22.9%) and the P[La]2/PM,max ratio (42.8, 33.5, 25.6, 23.1, 15.6%) increases.
Taking into consideration the O2,max, the PI,max and the reserve in power generating capability we concluded that choosing a high pedalling rate when performing high intensity cycling exercise may be beneficial since it provides greater reserve in power generating capability and this may be advantageous to the muscle in terms of resisting fatigue. However, beyond 100 rev min-1 there is a decrease in external power that can be delivered for an given O2 with an associated earlier onset of metabolic acidosis and clearly this will be disadvantageous for sustained high intensity exercise.
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Effect of Muscle Temperature on Human Muscle Function

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This research was initiated by Professor Anthony Sargeant and Professor David Jones and carried out in Amsterdam.

Temperature effect on the rates of isometric force development and relaxation in the fresh and fatigued human adductor pollicis muscle

de Ruiter CJ, David A Jones, Anthony J Sargeant, Arnold de Haan.

Experimental Physiology

Exp Physiol. 1999 Nov;84(6):1137-50

Abstract
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effect of temperature on the rates of isometric force development and relaxation in electrically activated fresh and fatigued human adductor pollicis muscle. Following immersion of the lower arm for 20 min in water baths of four different temperatures, muscle temperatures were approximately 37, 31, 25 and 22 C. Maximal isometric force was reduced by 16.8 +/- 1.5 % at 22 C. The stimulation frequency-force and -rate of force development relationships were shifted to the left at lower temperatures. Q10 values for the maximal rates of force development and relaxation, and the times for 100 to 50 % and 50 to 25 % force relaxation, were about 2.0 between 37 and 25 C and about 3.8 between 25 and 22 C. However, the time for 50 to 25 % force relaxation had a relatively high Q10 value between 25 and 22 C (6.9) and this parameter also appeared to be more sensitive to fatigue compared to the other indices of relaxation. Nevertheless, the effect of fatigue on all parameters decreased with cooling over the entire (37-22 C) temperature range

Changes in mechanical leverage of muscles occur as a result of contraction making modelling uncertain

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Part of an important series of research publications by the talented Costis Maganaris (now a deservedly full professor in his own right) as part of his PhD which was supervised by Professors Anthony Sargeant and Vasilios Baltzopoulos

Changes in the tibialis anterior tendon moment arm from rest to maximum isometric dorsiflexion: in vivo observations in man

Costis N Maganaris, Vassilios Baltzopoulos, Anthony J Sargeant.

Clinical Biomechanics
Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 1999 Nov;14(9):661-6
Abstract
OBJECTIVE: In the present study, we examined the hypothesis that the tibialis anterior tendon moment arm increases during maximum isometric dorsiflexion as compared with rest.
BACKGROUND: In musculoskeletal modelling applications, moment arms from passive muscles at rest are assumed representative of those measured during isometric muscle contraction. The validity of this assumption is questionable in musculotendon actuators enclosed by retinacular systems as in tibialis anterior.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Sagittal-plane magnetic resonance images of the right ankle were taken in six subjects at rest and during maximum isometric dorsiflexion at six ankle angles between dorsiflexion and plantarflexion having the body placed in the supine position and the knee flexed at 90 degrees. Instant centres of rotation in the tibio-talar joint, tibialis anterior tendon action lines and moment arms were identified in the sagittal plane at ankle angles of -15 degrees, 0 degrees,+15 degrees and +30 degrees at rest and during maximum isometric dorsiflexion.
RESULTS: At any given ankle angle, the tibialis anterior tendon moment arm during maximum isometric dorsiflexion increased by 0.9-1.5 cm (P<0.01) compared with rest. This was attributed to a displacement of both tibialis anterior tendon action line by 0.8-1.2 cm (P<0.01) and all instant centres of rotation by 0.3-0.4 cm (P<0. 01) distally in relation to their corresponding resting positions.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: The assumption that the tibialis anterior tendon moment arm does not change from rest to maximum isometric dorsiflexion is invalid. Erroneous tendon forces, muscle stresses and joint moments by as much as 30% would be calculated using resting tibialis anterior tendon moment arms in the moment equilibrium equation around the ankle joint during maximum isometric dorsiflexion. RELEVANCE: A substantial increase in the tibialis anterior tendon moment arm occurs from rest to maximum isometric dorsiflexion. This needs to be taken into consideration when using planimetric musculoskeletal modelling for analysing maximal static ankle dorsiflexion loads.

Force-velocity relationship of human muscle

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The research idea for this study came from Professor Anthony J Sargeant of Amsterdam and Professor David Jones (Birmingham University). It was the culmination of many years of Tony Sargeant encouraging members of his research group in Amsterdam to adapt a technique for studying rat muscle force velocity to small human hand muscles. The data was finally collected by Jo de Ruiter a post-doc in the Amsterdam research group.

The measurement of force/velocity relationships of fresh and fatigued human adductor pollicis muscle.

CJ De Ruiter, David A Jones, Anthony J Sargeant, Arnold de Haan.

European Journal of Applied Physiology
Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999 Sep;80(4):386-93
The purpose of the study was to obtain force/velocity relationships for electrically stimulated (80 Hz) human adductor pollicis muscle (n = 6) and to quantify the effects of fatigue. There are two major problems of studying human muscle in situ; the first is the contribution of the series elastic component, and the second is a loss of force consequent upon the extent of loaded shortening. These problems were tackled in two ways. Records obtained from isokinetic releases from maximal isometric tetani showed a late linear phase of force decline, and this was extrapolated back to the time of release to obtain measures of instantaneous force. This method gave usable data up to velocities of shortening equivalent to approximately one-third of maximal velocity. An alternative procedure (short activation, SA) allowed the muscle to begin shortening when isometric force reached a value that could be sustained during shortening (essentially an isotonic protocol). At low velocities both protocols gave very similar data (r2 = 0.96), but for high velocities only the SA procedure could be used. Results obtained using the SA protocol in fresh muscle were compared to those for muscle that had been fatigued by 25 s of ischaemic isometric contractions, induced by electrical stimulation at the ulnar nerve. Fatigue resulted in a decrease of isometric force [to 69 (3)%], an increase in half-relaxation time [to 431 (10)%], and decreases in maximal shortening velocity [to 77 (8)%] and power [to 42 (5)%].
These are the first data for human skeletal muscle to show convincingly that during acute fatigue, power is reduced as a consequence of both the loss of force and slowing of the contractile speed

RNA content in mammalian muscle fibres

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This important research was part of the PhD work carried out by Petra Habets in the research group headed by Professor Anthony J Sargeant. It was a collaboration and jointly supervised by Anton Moorman of the Academic Medical Centre, of the University of Amsterdam. Sadly one of the inspirations for this research and close friend Jose Sant’Ana Pereira died, much too young, a few years after this work was published while working in the University of Madison, Wisconsin.

RNA content differs in slow and fast muscle fibers: implications for interpretation of changes in muscle gene expression

Petra E.M.H. Habets, Diego Franco, Jan M. Ruijter, Anthony J. Sargeant, José A.A. Sant’Ana Pereira, Anton F.M. Moorman.

Journal of Histochemistry and Cytochemistry
J Histochem Cytochem. 1999 Aug;47(8):995-100
Quantification of a specific muscle mRNA per total RNA (e.g., by Northern blot analysis) plays a crucial role in assessment of developmental, experimental, or pathological changes in gene expression. However, total RNA content per gram of a particular fiber type may differ as well.
We have tested this possibility in the distinct fiber types of adult rat skeletal muscle.
Sections of single fibers were hybridized against 28S rRNA as a marker for RNA content.
Quantification of the hybridization showed that the 28S rRNA content decreases in the order I>IIA>IIX>IIB, where Type I fibers show a five- to sixfold higher expression level compared to Type IIB fibers. Results were verified with an independent biochemical determination of total RNA content performed on pools of histochemically defined freeze-dried single fibers. In addition, the proportion of myosin heavy chain (MHC) mRNA per microgram of total RNA was similar in slow and fast fibers, as demonstrated by Northern blot analysis.
Consequently, Type I fibers contain five- to sixfold more MHC mRNA per microgram of tissue than IIB fibers. These differences are not reflected in the total fiber protein content.
This study implies that proper assessment of mRNA levels in skeletal muscle requires evaluation of total RNA levels according to fiber type composition

Measurement of high-energy phosphates in tiny fragments of human muscle fibres

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This research method was  developed in the group headed by Professor Anthony J Sargeant in Amsterdam. Arnold de Haan had developed the basis of the technique in the 1980s as part of his own PhD work. This was subsequently refined to enable very small fragments of human muscle fibre obtained by needle biopsy to be analysed. The present research paper describes that refined techniques and its sensitivity. The work formed part of the PhD thesis the outstanding Greek PhD student, Christina Karatzaferi, who was supervised by Tony Sargeant and Arnold de Haan.

Improved high-performance liquid chromatographic assay for the determination of “high-energy” phosphates in mammalian skeletal muscle. Application to a single-fibre study in man

Christina Karatzaferi, Arnold de Haan, Carla Offringa, Anthony J Sargeant.

Journal of Chromotography

J Chromatogr B Biomed Sci Appl. 1999 Jul 9;730(2):183-91
Abstract
A sensitive and reproducible method for the determination of adenine nucleotides (ATP, IMP) and creatine compounds [creatine (Cr), phosphocreatine (PCr)] in freeze-dried single human muscle fibre fragments is presented. The method uses isocratic reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography of methanol extracts. Average retention times (min) of ATP, IMP and PCr, Cr from standard solutions were 10.6+/-0.42, 2.11+/-0.06 (n=6) and 10.5+/-0.31 and 1.19+/-0.02 (n=9), respectively. Detection limits in extracts from muscle fibre fragments were 2.0, 1.0, 3.0 and 2.0 mmol/kg dm, respectively. The assay was found successful for analysis of fibre-fragments weighing > or = 1 microg.

Performing Sprint Exercise in the heat

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This research was largely carried out by Derek Ball. It looks at the effect of heat stress on human sprinting performance and has implications for sporting activities. Derek Ball was originally a post-doctoral fellow (later Senior Lecturer) in the research group and later Institute headed by Professor Anthony J Sargeant.

Human power output during repeated sprint cycle exercise: the influence of thermal stress

Derek Ball, Burrows C , Anthony J Sargeant.

European Journal of Applied Physiology
Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1999 Mar;79(4):360-6
    Thermal stress is known to impair endurance capacity during moderate prolonged exercise. However, there is relatively little available information concerning the effects of thermal stress on the performance of high-intensity short-duration exercise. The present experiment examined human power output during repeated bouts of short-term maximal exercise.
    On two separate occasions, seven healthy males performed two 30-s bouts of sprint exercise (sprints I and II), with 4 min of passive recovery in between, on a cycle ergometer. The sprints were performed in both a normal environment [18.7 (1.5) degrees C, 40 (7)% relative humidity (RH; mean SD)] and a hot environment [30.1 (0.5) degrees C, 55 (9)% RH]. The order of exercise trials was randomised and separated by a minimum of 4 days. Mean power, peak power and decline in power output were calculated from the flywheel velocity after correction for flywheel acceleration.
    Peak power output was higher when exercise was performed in the heat compared to the normal environment in both sprint I [910 (172) W vs 656 (58) W; P < 0.01] and sprint II [907 (150) vs 646 (37) W; P < 0.05]. Mean power output was higher in the heat compared to the normal environment in both sprint I [634 (91) W vs 510 (59) W; P < 0.05] and sprint II [589 (70) W vs 482 (47) W; P < 0.05]. There was a faster rate of fatigue (P < 0.05) when exercise was performed in the heat compared to the normal environment. Arterialised-venous blood samples were taken for the determination of acid-base status and blood lactate and blood glucose before exercise, 2 min after sprint I, and at several time points after sprint II. Before exercise there was no difference in resting acid-base status or blood metabolites between environmental conditions. There was a decrease in blood pH, plasma bicarbonate and base excess after sprint I and after sprint II. The degree of post-exercise acidosis was similar when exercise was performed in either of the environmental conditions. The metabolic response to exercise was similar between environmental conditions; the concentration of blood lactate increased (P < 0.01) after sprint I and sprint II but there were no differences in lactate concentration when comparing the exercise bouts performed in a normal and a hot environment.
    These data demonstrate that when brief intense exercise is performed in the heat, peak power output increases by about 25% and mean power output increases by 15%; this was due to achieving a higher pedal cadence in the heat