Palmer, G. S., Noakes, T. D., & Hawley, J. A. (1997). Effects of steady-state versus stochastic exercise on subsequent cycling performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 29, 684-687.

"While near steady-state conditions may prevail during most distance running events (those >10 km) and cycle time trial competitions, it has recently been questioned whether the use of "steady state" laboratory testing to assess athletes who typically compete in events that produce responses to exercise that randomly vary in intensity [such as in group cycling races] and are, therefore, stochastic in nature has ecological validity" (p. 684).

This study investigated the physiological responses to laboratory based varied (stochastic) exercise and to assess the effects of varied versus steady-state exercise on subsequent cycling time trial performance. Competitive cyclists (N = 6) performed two 150-min paced rides that were either constant load (58% of peak power output) or stochastic in nature (58% + 12.2% of peak power output). Rides were immediately followed by a 20-km time trial on an air-braked ergometer.

Mean heart rates were not significantly different between the 150-min paced rides or the time trials. The mean time for the time trial was significantly faster (for all Ss), and the mean power output was significantly greater, following the steady-state ride.

Implication. In endurance races, it would be best to attempt to maintain steady-state work application before approaching the latter half or important extended efforts that conclude races. Varied changes in work application in the early stages of races are likely to reduce performance capabilities in the latter stages of an endurance race.

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