Effects of Interval Training and a Taper on Cycling Performance and Isokinetic Leg Strength

Document Type


Publication Date



cycling performance, interval training, isokinetic strength, taper


The purpose of this study was to determine whether changes in isokinetic leg strength parallel changes in cycling performance during a six-week high-intensity aerobic interval training program and a subsequent two-week taper. Eleven male collegiate cyclists participated in one competitive cycling graded exercise test, four consecutive days of aerobic intervals (30 min @ 82.2±0.74% HRmax, 1:1 work:relife), and four continuous rides (l-2hr @ 65-80% HRmax) weekly. Pedalling cadence during training was generally 70-80 rpm suggesting a knee joint velocity of approximately 210°·sec-1. Cycling performance and peak isokinetic torque (TQpk) for knee flexors (HAM) and knee extensors (QUAD) @ 30, 120, 210, and 300°·sec-1 were assessed before, every two weeks during, and each week for two weeks following six weeks of interval training. Performance increased significantly during training (15%) and increased further during the taper (8%). QUAD TQpk @30 and 120°·sec-1 increased significantly during training and the taper. In contrast, QUAD TQpk @ 210 and 300°·sec-1 and HAM TQpk for all velocities were not significantly elevated following training. Interestingly, QUAD TQpk @ 300 but not 210°sec-1 significantly increased during the taper. Data from this study demonstrates that high-intensity aerobic interval cycling can promote gains in QUAD strength which occur primarily at contraction velocities slower than those utilized during cycling training. Additionally, a two-week taper can produce significant improvements in cycling performance (8%) and QUAD strength (8-9%) at 30 and 120°·sec-1, however, the time-courses for these improvements do not parallel one another.

Recommended Citation

Martin, D. T., J. C. Scifres, S. D. Zimmerman, and J. G. Wilkinson. "Effects of interval training and a taper on cycling performance and isokinetic leg strength." International journal of sports medicine 15, no. 08 (1994): 485-491.

DOI for the article



Biomedical Sciences