Study Controls

One of the next most important aspect of executing your research is having a way to accurately and consistently conduct the prescribed drills and record their results.  This is the proverbial “before and after”; also commonly referred to as “baseline” and “performance testing”.   This is so important that we researcher types typically like to be physically present for all Baseline tests, as well as final and/or intermittent performance tests.

The training that takes place between these before and after events can be conducted without this type of close oversight, provided the subjects have a clear understanding of exactly how the training is to be conducted.  If all of the subjects performed the drills in different ways, they couldn”™t realistically be compared to each other.  Likewise if they performed the drill in nearly the same manner, but then recorded the results differently, we would likewise have a significant problem comparing results.

Consequently, researchers must emphasize how important it is to be true to the method of the training drills as well as the “before and after” measurements.  The tools and techniques we use for gathering the results must be defined and assigned clearly.

Indoors vs Outdoors

Fortunately for those of us who are enlightened as to the power and benefit of Indoor Cycling, this is one of the times where the indoor environment really shines.  We can control so many extraneous factors, that we are virtually guaranteed solid repeatability in not only baselining and performance testing afterwards, but also the day to day training if it is done indoors.

When working on a bike that doesn”™t move, where there are no “imminent dangers” as there are on the road and trail, and where we can control both temperature and airflow, we have a typical “laboratory environment”.  Some argue that this makes it also unrealistic, and thus brings any conclusions from the study under question.  While there is merit to that argument, it can be put to rest by including outdoor baselines and performance tests along with the indoor protocols if that criticism seems to be worth addressing.

The advantages of the indoor environment doesn”™t mean that we can”™t conduct any of these experiments or trials outside, it just means we do have an ideal environment inside if and when we need it.  If weather or traffic disrupt our consistency or flow in executing the drills prescribed for the study, we simply move operations inside and resume.

Muscular Endurance Baseline Test

Given the fact that we are studying muscular endurance (not muscular strength), we know that we want to have our test be one with a significant time duration.  In addition, university researchers use “the point of failure” as an measurement indicator when researching Muscular Endurance, so will also incorporate this into our baseline protocol.  Finally we have already defined the parameters of muscular endurance training to fall within a certain cadence range and at a heart zone of no less than zone 3.  Thus we have enough details to create our specific Muscular Endurance Baseline Test Protocol.

Protocol Details:

  1. Subjects will be instructed to warm up for 15 to 25 minutes before the test begins
  2. Subjects will hold a steady pedaling cadence at an average of 75 RPM as far as possible
  3. Subjects will find a resistance or gear level that will bring their heart rate into the middle of their zone 3 (using Heart Zones®  methodology of zone determination)
  4. The subject will increase their effort by 25 watts every 2 minutes and maintain the new wattage level without more than a 5 watt fluctuation
  5. The test continues until the subject can not maintain the current watt level without fluctuating more than 5 watts, or they feel physically unable to continue increasing wattage.

Data Collected:

  1. Date, time, location, and type of bike used in the test
  2. Subject name, age, gender and self described fitness level
  3. From minute 00:00 the following parameters are recorded precisely as they read on the bike console:
    1. Time the readings were taken (00:00, 1:00, 2:00, etc)
    2. Heart rate
    3. Power Level
    4. Cadence Level

This is starting to look like a real project now.  In the next post we will discuss Sample size for the study, and recruiting those squealers, er… guinea pigs…. I mean volunteer subjects 🙂


Originally posted 2012-06-30 10:35:40.


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