A constant-load ergometer for measuring peak power output and fatigue

J. H. Williams, W. S. Barnes, J. F. Signorile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


A constant-load cycle ergometer was constructed that allows maximal power output to be measured for each one-half pedal revolution during brief, high-intensity exercise. To determine frictional force, an electronic load cell was attached to the resistance strap and the ergometer frame. Dead weights were attached to the strap's free end. Flywheel velocity was recorded by means of a magnetic switch and two magnets placed on the pedal sprocket. Pedaling resulted in magnetically activated switch closures, which produced two electronic pulses per pedal revolution. Pulses and load cell output were recorded (512 Hz), digitized, and stored on disk via microcomputer. Power output was later computed for each pair of adjacent pulses, representing average power per one-half pedal revolution. Power curves generated for each subject were analyzed for peak power output (the highest one-half pedal revolution average), time to peak power, power fatigue rate and index, average power, and total work. Thirty-eight males performed two 15-s tests separated by 15 min (n = 16) or 48 h (n = 22). Peak power output ranged from 846.0 to 1,289.1 W. Intraclass correlation analysis revealed high test-retest reliability for all parameters recorded on the same or different days (R = 0.91-0.97). No significant differences (P > 0.05) were noted between parameter means of the first and second tests. These results indicate that the ergometer described provides a means for conveniently and reliably assessing short-term power output and fatigue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2343-2348
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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