It has been shown that when three periods of exercise at different intensities are performed to exhaustion, the linear regression of the work accomplished on the time taken defines the critical power (CP) function. The slope of this function is related to endurance ability, whereas the y-intercept is considered to represent anaerobic work capacity (AWC). The purpose of this study was to determine whether two different recovery durations (3 and 24 h), separating three periods of exercise, would elicit differences in the linear CP function. Nine healthy, untrained female students [19.5 (SD 1.6) years] completed five sessions of cycle exercise to exhaustion in random order (familiarisation). Three of these five power outputs were then used in the main part of the study in which the subjects were randomly assigned to two groups. Group one first performed the three power outputs on the same day, with 3 h of passive recovery separating each session (3 on 1). Group two first performed the three power outputs on 3 consecutive days, with approximately 24 h between sessions (3 con). Following 1 day of rest, group one repeated their three power outputs on 3 consecutive days and group two completed their three tests on the same day. Repeated-measures ANOVA revealed no significant differences between the mean values of CP or AWC calculated from the 3 on 1 or 3 con conditions. Trial two estimates of CP were, however, 3.4\% (P < 0.05) higher than trial one (familiarisation) estimates. The results of this study showed that reliable measurements of both CP and AWC can be determined from three tests separated by rest periods of 3 h, provided that the subjects are first familiarised with the tests. We found one series of five exercise sessions to be sufficient familiarisation to ensure similar subsequent estimates of CP.
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