An investigation of natural cadence between cyclists and noncyclists

MacPherson, A.C., Turner, A.P., and Collins, D. orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7601-0454 (2007) An investigation of natural cadence between cyclists and noncyclists. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 78 (4). pp. 396-400. ISSN 0270-1367

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In activities requiring repetitive motions such as cycling, an individual gravitates to a natural cadence (NC). NC is seen as a “naturally occurring” phenomenon, a pace to which an individual reverts, as opposed to a consciously mediated pace, which is a learned ability. For example, an experienced middle distance athlete will be able to accurately run laps at 63 s (although distance and type of training may also influence this). This is different to NC, which would be the pace to which the athlete would naturally gravitate if left to his or her own devices. Our aim was to investigate this phenomenon by examining cyclists’ NC (see Marais & Pelayo, 2001),
in this sense, an internally set, unconsciously achieved rhythm to which the system would naturally gravitate (for a detailed discussion of how motor programs are stored and accessed, see Rosenbaum & Dawson, 2004; Mechsner, 2004). Two major questions were addressed. First, we examined the evidence for and, if it was detected, strength of NC. Embedded within this issue was the contribution of experience (i.e., whether differences would exist between cyclists and noncyclists). Second, we looked at the physiological response postperturbation from fixed cadence to establish whether participants would revert to similar values, comparable with NC. Further, by considering physiological differences associated with different imposed and freely chosen rhythms, we attempted to uncover the mechanisms through which observed effects were generated. Again, we considered this with respect to both cyclists and noncyclists. Individualized measures were used as the basis for all variables, and the purpose of the present study was concealed from the participants, with NC, the fixed cadences, and work rate (WR) disclosed only once the testing was complete.
In summary, this experiment is novel in that it examines the effects of perturbing preferred movement patterns while differentiating between groups.

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