Influence of body size on oxygen consumption during bicycling

D. P. Swain, Richard J Coast, P. S. Clifford, M. C. Milliken, J. Stray-Gundersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

67 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Energy in bicycling is primarily expended to overcome air resistance, which is proportional to a cyclist's surface area (SA). Thus we hypothesized that large cyclists should have a lower O2 consumption normalized to body weight (V̇O2/BW) than small cyclists because of the former's lower SA/BW. We measured the V̇O2/BW of small (BW = 59.4 ± 4.1 kg) and large (BW = 84.4 ± 3.2 kg) cyclists while they bicycled on a flat road at 10, 15, and 20 mph. The large cyclists had a 22% lower V̇O2/BW than the small cyclists at all speeds. However, the SA/BW ratio of the large cyclists was only 11% lower than that of the small cyclists. We then photographically determined the frontal area (FA) of the cyclists in a racing posture, and found that the large cyclists had a 16% lower FA/BW ratio than the small cyclists. We conclude that 1) large cyclists are at a distinct advantage, in terms of V̇O2/BW, while bicycling on level roads, and 2) this advantage is principally due to their lower FA/BW ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-672
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Volume62
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Bicycling
Body Size
Oxygen Consumption
Posture
Air
Body Weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this

Swain, D. P., Coast, R. J., Clifford, P. S., Milliken, M. C., & Stray-Gundersen, J. (1987). Influence of body size on oxygen consumption during bicycling. Journal of Applied Physiology, 62(2), 668-672.

Influence of body size on oxygen consumption during bicycling. / Swain, D. P.; Coast, Richard J; Clifford, P. S.; Milliken, M. C.; Stray-Gundersen, J.

In: Journal of Applied Physiology, Vol. 62, No. 2, 1987, p. 668-672.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Swain, DP, Coast, RJ, Clifford, PS, Milliken, MC & Stray-Gundersen, J 1987, 'Influence of body size on oxygen consumption during bicycling', Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 62, no. 2, pp. 668-672.
Swain DP, Coast RJ, Clifford PS, Milliken MC, Stray-Gundersen J. Influence of body size on oxygen consumption during bicycling. Journal of Applied Physiology. 1987;62(2):668-672.
Swain, D. P. ; Coast, Richard J ; Clifford, P. S. ; Milliken, M. C. ; Stray-Gundersen, J. / Influence of body size on oxygen consumption during bicycling. In: Journal of Applied Physiology. 1987 ; Vol. 62, No. 2. pp. 668-672.
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