Inertial effects on mechanically braked Wingate power calculations

R. F. Reiser, J. P. Broker, M. L. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Purpose: The standard procedure for determining subject power output from a 30-s Wingate test on a mechanically braked (friction-loaded) ergometer includes only the braking resistance and flywheel velocity in the computations. However, the inertial effects associated with accelerating and decelerating the crank and flywheel also require energy and, therefore, represent a component of the subject's power output. The present study was designed to determine the effects of drive-system inertia on power output calculations. Methods: Twenty-eight male recreational cyclists completed Wingate tests on a Monark 324E mechanically braked ergometer (resistance: 8.5% body mass (BM), starting cadence: 60 rpm). Power outputs were then compared using both standard (without inertial contribution) and corrected methods (with inertial contribution) of calculating power output. Results: Relative 5-s peak power and 30-s average power for the corrected method (14.8 ± 1.2 W·kg-1 BM; 9.9 ± 0.7 W·kg-1 BM) were 20.3% and 3.1% greater than that of the standard method (12.3 ± 0.7 W·kg-1 BM; 9.6 ± 0.7 W·kg-1 BM), respectively. Relative 5-s minimum power for the corrected method (6.8 ± 0.7 W·kg-1 BM) was 6.8% less than that of the standard method (7.3 ± 0.8 W·kg-1 BM). The combined differences in the peak power and minimum power produced a fatigue index for the corrected method (54 ± 5%) that was 31.7% greater than that of the standard method (41 ± 6%). All parameter differences were significant (P < 0.01). The inertial contribution to power output was dominated by the flywheel; however, the contribution from the crank was evident. Conclusions: These results indicate that the inertial components of the ergometer drive system influence the power output characteristics, requiring care when computing, interpreting, and comparing Wingate results, particularly among different ergometer designs and test protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1660-1664
Number of pages5
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000


  • Anaerobic power
  • Crank inertia
  • Flywheel inertia
  • System acceleration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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