Ed Coyle's paper about LA delta efficiency is a fraud.

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Mar 18, 2009
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kiwirider said:
acoggan said:
Not quite the hyperbolic statements you have credited to (Coyle), eh?
From Coyle's paper:

These absolute values are higher than what we have measured in bicyclists competing at the US national level (9), several of whom subsequently raced professionally in Europe during the period of 1989–1995. The five-time Grand Champion of the Tour de France during the years 1991–1995 has been reported to possess a O2 max of 6.4 l/min and 79 ml·kg–1·min–1 with a body weight of 81 kg (28). Laboratory measures of the subject in our study were not made soon after the Tour de France; however, with the conservative assumption that O2 max was at least 6.1 l/min and given his reported body weight of 72 kg, we estimate his O2 max to have been at least 85 ml·kg–1·min–1 during the period of his victories in the Tour de France. Therefore, his O2 max per kilogram of body weight during his victories of 1999–2004 appears to be somewhat higher than what was reported for the champion during 1991–1995 and to be among the highest values reported in world class runners and bicyclists (e.g., 80–85 ml·kg–1·min–1)

... which sounds pretty similar to the summary that Digger gave ...
Not in the least. For example, Coyle uses words such as "...somewhat higher than..." and "...among the highest...", whereas Digger claimed that Coyle stated that Armstrong had the highest VO2max ever recorded.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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acoggan said:
This claim is not supported by the available evidence.
When did evidence have anything to do with this particular paper by Coyle? As we have discussed in depth on another thread, IMO the lack of appropriate study design, scientific process, and critical editorial feedback on this paper is appalling. I know you don't agree, and I'm happy to leave it at that rather than rehashing everything again to the nth degree.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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elapid said:
When did evidence have anything to do with this particular paper by Coyle? As we have discussed in depth on another thread, IMO the lack of appropriate study design, scientific process, and critical editorial feedback on this paper is appalling. I know you don't agree, and I'm happy to leave it at that rather than rehashing everything again to the nth degree.
Unfortunately for you, I'm not. ;)
 
Mar 18, 2009
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ggusta said:
It would be so cool if could post audio clips just like pictures.

I'm thinkin' Journey's Don't Stop Believin'

no idea why
While I understand why you said the above, I believe that you are misinterpreting my postings on this (and possibly other related) topics. To really understand the points that I am attempting to convey, I suggest that you take all of my words at their absolute face value, and not try to read anything into them.

To give but one example: if I reply in disagreement with someone, I will quote only the statements with which I (strongly) disagree, while trying to provide just enough context to their words such that they don't seem to be presented in isolation.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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acoggan said:
kiwirider said:
acoggan said:
Not quite the hyperbolic statements you have credited to (Coyle), eh?

Not in the least. For example, Coyle uses words such as "...somewhat higher than..." and "...among the highest...", whereas Digger claimed that Coyle stated that Armstrong had the highest VO2max ever recorded.
Wonderful bit of selective citation there ...

The rest of the "somewhat higher" quote talks about Indurain's VO2. So, to put it another way - Coyle is saying that Armstrong's VO2 is greater than Indurain's ... which is exactly what Digger said ...

Oh, and don't forget this bit of wonderous prose from the end of Coyle's article:

Clearly, this champion embodies a phenomenon of both genetic natural selection and the extreme to which the human can adapt to endurance training performed for a decade or more in a person who is truly inspired.

Now reading that, Coyle is saying that Armstrong is the epitome of a highly trained endurance athlete - after all, "the extreme" means the absolute outlier point. We wont even go into the "phenomenon" bit ...

If Coyle had wanted to say he was up there with the best endurance athletes in a range of codes, then surely he'd have used that phrase?
:confused:

BTW - I see that Digger's edited his post ... so seems that he was referring to that section I copied before ...
 
acoggan said:
I don't think there is any question that Armstrong - like any professional cyclist - is physiologically gifted. What you have claimed above, however, is absolutely incorrect. Specifically, here is what Coyle wrote in his study:

"Laboratory measures of the subject in our study were not made soon after the Tour de France; however, with the conservative assumption that VO2 max was at least 6.1 l/min and given his reported body weight of 72 kg, we estimate his VO2 max to have been at least 85 ml/kg/min during the period of his victories in the Tour de France. Therefore, his VO2 max per kilogram of body weight during his victories of 1999–2004 appears to be somewhat higher than what was reported for the champion during 1991–1995 and to be among the highest values reported in world class runners and bicyclists (e.g., 80–85 ml/kg/min) (6, 15, 16, 28, 29)."

Not quite the hyperbolic statements you have credited to him, eh?

As for the emphasis given to VO2max vs. LT vs. efficiency vs. body mass in the paper, it would be silly to discuss just the latter two without commenting on the first two. If you actually read the paper (or just consider the title), though, you will see that it the apparent improvement in efficiency and reported reduction in body mass that gets by far the most attention.BTW, when I was a PhD student in Coyle's lab I also had a VO2max that also exceeded Miguel Indurain's, at least in mL/min/kg. I therefore wouldn't read too much into Coyle's comment that Armstrong's was also higher (of course, no exercise physiologist ever would, because of the knowledge that VO2max is but one determinant of endurance performance ability...non-scientists, however, often seem to be obsessed with the measurement).[/QUOTE]

So many things wrong here. You are losing credibilty yourself the way you are defending some of his claims. You believe it okay to take 5 different VO2MAX figures and then take the highest?
Also, you contradict yourself by saying it would be silly not to take VO2Max into account - yet you later say you 'wouldn't read too much into Coyle's comment' on Lance's VO2Max.
I initially said in an earlier post that "Coyle uses VO2 Max as a reason for Lance's success". Never did I imply that VO2 Max was THE ONE AND ONLY reason. You replied that i was incorrect, when you were the one incorrect. Coyle does use VO2 Max as one of the reasons. He implied strongly that it is among the highest values recorded. Even this is untrue that it is among the highest. It was not even near the highest in 1999 when he first started winning the Tour.
You want to talk about his 'reduction in body mass'? Because there's more fun to be had there.
And your last point about non-scientists...patronising and false.
For the record, just in case you missed it, I did edit my last post.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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kiwirider said:
Wonderful bit of selective citation there ...

The rest of the "somewhat higher" quote talks about Indurain's VO2.
That is where he draws the comparison, but Indurain's VO2max is first mentioned further up in the paragraph.

kiwirider said:
So, to put it another way - Coyle is saying that Armstrong's VO2 is greater than Indurain's ... which is exactly what Digger said ...
On that part we all seem to agree.

kiwirider said:
Oh, and don't forget this bit of wonderous prose from the end of Coyle's article:

Clearly, this champion embodies a phenomenon of both genetic natural selection and the extreme to which the human can adapt to endurance training performed for a decade or more in a person who is truly inspired.

Now reading that, Coyle is saying that Armstrong is the epitome of a highly trained endurance athlete - after all, "the extreme" means the absolute outlier point. We wont even go into the "phenomenon" bit ...
So you think Coyle's statements are incorrect?

kiwirider said:
If Coyle had wanted to say he was up there with the best endurance athletes in a range of codes, then surely he'd have used that phrase?
:confused:
Why the confusion? That is basically what he did at the outset of the Discussion.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Digger said:
So many things wrong here. You are losing credibilty yourself the way you are defending some of his claims. You believe it okay to take 5 different VO2MAX figures and then take the highest?
Why wouldn't it be? That is, after all, the only time that Coyle measured Armstrong's VO2max when he was fit. Coyle also makes it clear that he assumed that Armstrong's absolute VO2max when fit remained ~6 L/min.

Digger said:
Also, you contradict yourself by saying it would be silly not to take VO2Max into account - yet you later say you 'wouldn't read too much into Coyle's comment' on Lance's VO2Max.
Not in the least. Every exercise physiologist worth their salts knows that VO2max is but one determinant of endurance performance ability, such that one shouldn't make too much out of its measurement. At the same time, however, it does set the upper limit to sustainable power output, and so it is logical to discuss it, at least briefly.


I initially said in an earlier post that "Coyle uses VO2 Max as a reason for Lance's success". Never did I imply that VO2 Max was THE ONE AND ONLY reason. You replied that i was incorrect
And you were. For example, here is the concluding paragraph to the paper (emphasis added), in which VO2max isn't even mentioned:

"This report has identified the physiological factor that improved
the most from ages 21 to 28 yr in the bicyclist who has
now become the six-time consecutive Grand Champion of the
Tour de France as muscular efficiency. As a result, power
production when cycling at an absolute VO2 of 5.0 l/min
increased by 8%. Another factor that allowed this individual to
become Grand Champion of the Tour de France was his large
reductions in body weight and body fat during the months
before the race. Therefore, over the 7-yr period, he displayed a
remarkable 18% improvement in steady-state power per kilogram
body weight when cycling at a given VO2 (e.g., 5 l/min).
We hypothesize that the improved muscular efficiency might
reflect alterations in muscle myosin type stimulated from years
of training intensely for 3–6 h on most days. It is remarkable
that at age 25 yr this individual developed advanced cancer,
requiring surgeries and chemotherapy, yet these events did not
appear to impede his physiological maturation and athletic
achievements. Clearly, this champion embodies a phenomenon
of both genetic natural selection and the extreme to which the
human can adapt to endurance training performed for a decade
or more in a person who is truly inspired."
 
acoggan said:
Why wouldn't it be? That is, after all, the only time that Coyle measured Armstrong's VO2max when he was fit.

QUOTE]

Just so we're both clear here, and before I reply..what EXACTLY do you mean by the above?

Incidentally, your opinion of Coyle saying Lance's VO2Max was among the highest recorded? Feel it's an accurate statement? Why did Coyle go out of his way to exaggerate how high Lance's VO2 Max if indeed it is not as important as 'non-scientists' make out?
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Digger said:
acoggan said:
Why wouldn't it be? That is, after all, the only time that Coyle measured Armstrong's VO2max when he was fit.




QUOTE]

Just so we're both clear here, and before I reply..what EXACTLY do you mean by the above?
Coyle measured Armstrong's VO2max on five occasions, but on only one of those occasions was he healthy and presumably race-fit. The lower values obtained on other occasions therefore almost certainly reflect lack of training, instead of just random variation. Ergo, the value most representative of Armstrong's VO2max during his Tour-winning years would be that peak value (again, under the assumption - acknowledged by Coyle - that his VO2max did not increase any further after age 22).
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Digger said:
Incidentally, your opinion of Coyle saying Lance's VO2Max was among the highest recorded? Feel it's an accurate statement?
I would say that it is an accurate statement when 1) it is qualified as "...among the highest..." and 2) your sources are limited (as they must be) to the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

Digger said:
Why did Coyle go out of his way to exaggerate how high Lance's VO2 Max if indeed it is not as important as 'non-scientists' make out?
I don't believe that he did exaggerate it. Rather, he simply compared it to other reported values, and commented that it was quite high (which it was/is).
 
acoggan said:
Digger said:
Coyle measured Armstrong's VO2max on five occasions, but on only one of those occasions was he healthy and presumably race-fit. The lower values obtained on other occasions therefore almost certainly reflect lack of training, instead of just random variation. Ergo, the value most representative of Armstrong's VO2max during his Tour-winning years would be that peak value (again, under the assumption - acknowledged by Coyle - that his VO2max did not increase any further after age 22).
Lance was measured in September 1993 and had a VO2Max of 81.2.
In 1999, the year he won, it was 71.5. This does not correlate. Also, you don't see the problems in measuring his VO2 Max at different periods, i.e. fit and unfit. How, as a physiologist can you defend this lack of conistency, and assumption?
 
Mar 18, 2009
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acoggan said:
your sources are limited (as they must be) to the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
To give an example of the issue you at hand: the only peer-reviewed paper of which I am aware reporting Indurain's VO2max gives it at 79 mL/min/kg (cf. Ref. 28 of Coyle's paper). Digger, OTOH, says/believes it to be 88 mL/min/kg. However, even if the latter was widely-acknowledged via "back channels" to be correct (which it isn't), Coyle, like any other scientist, would have to cite the published paper.
 
acoggan said:
I would say that it is an accurate statement when 1) it is qualified as "...among the highest..." and 2) your sources are limited (as they must be) to the peer-reviewed scientific literature.



I don't believe that he did exaggerate it. Rather, he simply compared it to other reported values, and commented that it was quite high (which it was/is).
I honestly don't know how you can defend some of the things Coyle has wrote in this paper. You obviously have vested interests. But the paper has not stood up to scrutiny from other scientists, which you know full well. And no amount of patronising comments from yourself changes this.

His VO2 in 1999 is NOT 'quite high'...even if we take Miguel's to be at 79, Lance#s was below this anyway.
You want to talk about the assumption Coyle made is saying Lance's heart wa the size of a 'seven foot man'.
Or how Coyle attributes so much improvement to body mass reduction, when in fact, the figure in question is two pounds.

Again, you know full well that you have vested interests. And your lack of objectivity, for someone who earns their living in this area, is embarassing.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Hi, physicist here.

Just trawling through Coyle's paper and I see a few problems. First is the extremely limited data set. Five data points where one has absolutely no relevance (August '97). Of the four remaining, only two data points are taken under similar circumstances (November, end of season). These are the only two pieces of data that can be compared with any competance or confidence.

Looking at the numbers... From 1992 to 1999, the body composition (weight & lean mass) are pretty much the same. Any discrepencies are probably due to the number of beer/burritos he consumed from end of season to November. Max O2 uptake is nearly identical (within error margins, though those aren't even reported!!). The VO2max is even the same (I calculate 71.0 vs 71.5) so no change.

Lactate wasn't measured in 1999. Huge omission and makes some comparisons impossible.

That leaves power, which in the absence of ergometer model numbers and calibration information is assumed to be an inaccurate measurement. In fact, it's assumed to be even more inaccurate when you consider the error margins for measuring O2 uptake, since the power measurements were done at 5 (not 5.0 or 5.00 l/min).

All that I'm left with is that when comparing apples to apples, Lance Armstrong's early off season weight and VO2max did not change from 1992 to 1999. That's the only valid conclusion the author could have concievably made.

None of this is remotely as rigorous as I'm used to in even an amateur publication. Is this how things are done in physiology? Glad I stuck to physics.

John Swanson
http://www.bikephysics.com

edit - I kept saying 1997 when I meant 1999
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Digger said:
Lance was measured in September 1993 and had a VO2Max of 81.2.
Correct, and the results, which were obtained immediately after Armstrong won the World Championships, were "...corroborated by the United States Olympic Committee (Colorado Springs, CO)."

Digger said:
In 1999, the year he won, it was 71.5. This does not correlate.
Sure it does: the measurements in 1999 were obtained in November, which would presumably correspond to the nadir of Armstrong's fitness. Furthermore, much of the difference in VO2max in mL/min/kg is the result of a ~5 kg difference in body mass on the two occasions - his VO2max in L/min differed by only 6%, which is consistent with the typical +/- ~10% in-season/out-of-season swing in VO2max you see in most trained cyclists.

Digger said:
Also, you don't see the problems in measuring his VO2 Max at different periods, i.e. fit and unfit. How, as a physiologist can you defend this lack of conistency, and assumption?
No question, a retrospective analysis of a "convenience sample" is much weaker scientifically than a carefully-controlled prospective study. The latter are quite difficult to fund/perform, however, especially in athlete as successful as Armstrong. That's why Coyle's paper, limited though it might be, was still accepted for publication.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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ScienceIsCool said:
Hi, physicist here.

Just trawling through Coyle's paper and I see a few problems. First is the extremely limited data set. Five data points where one has absolutely no relevance (August '97). Of the four remaining, only two data points are taken under similar circumstances (November, end of season). These are the only two pieces of data that can be compared with any competance or confidence.

Looking at the numbers... From 1992 to 1999, the body composition (weight & lean mass) are pretty much the same. Any discrepencies are probably due to the number of beer/burritos he consumed from end of season to November. Max O2 uptake is nearly identical (within error margins, though those aren't even reported!!). The VO2max is even the same (I calculate 71.0 vs 71.5) so no change.

Lactate wasn't measured in 1999. Huge omission and makes some comparisons impossible.

That leaves power, which in the absence of ergometer model numbers and calibration information is assumed to be an inaccurate measurement. In fact, it's assumed to be even more inaccurate when you consider the error margins for measuring O2 uptake, since the power measurements were done at 5 (not 5.0 or 5.00 l/min).
You're overlooking/misunderstanding two things:

1) Coyle provided not only the model of the ergometer, but also (in response to questions raised by the Aussies) data on the reproducibility of the efficiency measurements; and

2) the power at a VO2 of 5 L/min was obtained by interpolation, i.e., it should be read as the power at a VO2 of 5.00................ L/min.

ScienceIsCool said:
All that I'm left with is that when comparing apples to apples, Lance Armstrong's early off season weight and VO2max did not change from 1992 to 1999. That's the only valid conclusion the author could have concievably made.

None of this is remotely as rigorous as I'm used to in even an amateur publication. Is this how things are done in physiology? Glad I stuck to physics.
What, you mean the world of cold fusion? ;)
 
Mar 18, 2009
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ScienceIsCool said:
None of this is remotely as rigorous as I'm used to in even an amateur publication. Is this how things are done in physiology? Glad I stuck to physics.

John Swanson
http://www.bikephysics.com
BTW, want me to review the paper on your website on bicycle wheels? I think you left out a thing or two... ;)
 
ScienceIsCool said:
Hi, physicist here.

Just trawling through Coyle's paper and I see a few problems. First is the extremely limited data set. Five data points where one has absolutely no relevance (August '97). Of the four remaining, only two data points are taken under similar circumstances (November, end of season). These are the only two pieces of data that can be compared with any competance or confidence.

Looking at the numbers... From 1992 to 1999, the body composition (weight & lean mass) are pretty much the same. Any discrepencies are probably due to the number of beer/burritos he consumed from end of season to November. Max O2 uptake is nearly identical (within error margins, though those aren't even reported!!). The VO2max is even the same (I calculate 71.0 vs 71.5) so no change.

Lactate wasn't measured in 1999. Huge omission and makes some comparisons impossible.

That leaves power, which in the absence of ergometer model numbers and calibration information is assumed to be an inaccurate measurement. In fact, it's assumed to be even more inaccurate when you consider the error margins for measuring O2 uptake, since the power measurements were done at 5 (not 5.0 or 5.00 l/min).

All that I'm left with is that when comparing apples to apples, Lance Armstrong's early off season weight and VO2max did not change from 1992 to 1999. That's the only valid conclusion the author could have concievably made.

None of this is remotely as rigorous as I'm used to in even an amateur publication. Is this how things are done in physiology? Glad I stuck to physics.John Swanson
http://www.bikephysics.com

edit - I kept saying 1997 when I meant 1999
My background in Academia is in Computers and Education. If my supervisors came across some of the 'mistakes', when conducting my field research, (that's kind) that Coyle made, then I would've been out the door. Coyle and his PHD student below are the main people defending this particular paper.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Yeah, cold fusion was good for a few jokes. Hear the one about the dead grad students? There were none... (i.e., no neutrons flying around, a reaction by-product). Ahem. It wasn't even that funny in 1989.

Anyways... If the only measured change is power (is it even repeatable? A two point trend isn't exactly how they found the mass of the top quark you know), how can you be so certain that it is attributable to an efficiency change?

Really? No other hypotheses? Basal metabolic rate perhaps? Using supramaximal lactate threshold power instead of submaximal (4 l/min vs 5 l/min O2 consumption rate) would give the same or different results? I'm not even a physiologist, but I can at least come up with a few alternate explanations off the top of my head.

Back to power - I'd really love to see some error bars. I'll take your word on me missing the ergometer info, but missing error bars!? C'mon... That's bush league.

I'm sorry, there's just not much that I can find to like about Coyle's paper. Even the addition of some lactate measurements in 1999 would have jazzed it up a bit.

John Swanson
http://www.bikephysics.com
 
Jul 5, 2009
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acoggan said:
BTW, want me to review the paper on your website on bicycle wheels? I think you left out a thing or two... ;)

Oh yeah. Go nuts! It was never intended for publication, so the only review its undergone (prior to being posted on my site) is having it read by two physicist friends. Have at 'er!

John Swanson
http://www.bikephysics.com

edit - I've always made my *raw* data available to anyone asks, too. If you want it let me know. I don't accidentally lose my data like Coyle does... </cheap dig>
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Digger said:
I honestly don't know how you can defend some of the things Coyle has wrote in this paper. You obviously have vested interests.
Which would be...?

Digger said:
But the paper has not stood up to scrutiny from other scientists
Actually, it has. Specifically, despite the criticisms leveled at it from various quarters, it has not been withdrawn by the journal, Coyle has not admitted to any serious mistakes, and the most interesting part of the results (i.e., that efficiency tends to improve over time in highly trained cyclists) has been supported by subsequent papers.

Digger said:
His VO2 in 1999 is NOT 'quite high'...even if we take Miguel's to be at 79, Lance#s was below this anyway.
You must be using some sort of new math, because as I see it Indurain's VO2max of 79 mL/min/kg is indeed lower than Armstrong's 80+ mL/min/kg (as measured in two different labs).

Digger said:
You want to talk about the assumption Coyle made is saying Lance's heart wa the size of a 'seven foot man'.
Yes, let's. :)

(Fact: to have a VO2max of 6 L/min with a maximal heart rate of 200 beats/min would require a stroke volume at VO2max of ~175 mL/min, which is actually significantly greater than you'd expect to find in an untrained 7 ft tall man.)

Digger said:
Or how Coyle attributes so much improvement to body mass reduction, when in fact, the figure in question is two pounds.
As clearly stated in the paper, Coyle relied on Armstrong's self-reported race weight of 72 kg in his calculations. If the numbers Armstrong provided aren't correct (I believe that he testified under oath that he raced the Tour at 73-74 kg), then Coyle's conclusions would also be incorrect. However, you can't blame Coyle in the least for presenting the numbers that he had available to him, especially since he clearly documented their source (i.e., Armstrong himself).

Digger said:
Again, you know full well that you have vested interests. And your lack of objectivity, for someone who earns their living in this area, is embarassing.
And again I ask, what are my vested interests in this area? Morever, where is my lack of objectivity? Everything that I have stated is factually correct, as anyone can verify for themselves.
 
Mar 18, 2009
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ScienceIsCool said:
If the only measured change is power (is it even repeatable? A two point trend isn't exactly how they found the mass of the top quark you know), how can you be so certain that it is attributable to an efficiency change?
I'm not sure what you mean by a two-point trend, since the efficiency calculations were based on multiple measurements (both within a given testing session and also across multiple years).

ScienceIsCool said:
Really? No other hypotheses? Basal metabolic rate perhaps?
The hypothesis presented in the Discussion is clearly the most plausible one (especially since, if anything, training has reported to increase basal metabolic rate, which would result in a decline in gross efficiency).

Regardless, what an author writes in their Discussion is really a separate issue than what data are actually represented, and you can't reject a paper simply because you disagree with the interpretation of the data (assuming, of course, that all sides of an issue are treated fairly).

ScienceIsCool said:
Using supramaximal lactate threshold power instead of submaximal (4 l/min vs 5 l/min O2 consumption rate) would give the same or different results?
You'd get the same results, at least qualitatively.

I'm not even a physiologist, but I can at least come up with a few alternate explanations off the top of my head.

ScienceIsCool said:
Back to power - I'd really love to see some error bars. I'll take your word on me missing the ergometer info, but missing error bars!? C'mon... That's bush league.
??

You can't calculate the standard error/standard deviation of single number.
 

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