Purpose: The objectives of this study were 1) to validate a new test to determine maximal oxygen uptake (V?O2max) in kayakers, 2) to calculate the energy cost (Ck) of high-level kayakers and canoeists at submaximal and race speeds, and 3) to correlate individual best performances achieved in practice with those theoretically calculated. These were obtained from the individual relationships Er = f(t) and Emax = f(t), where Er is the metabolic power required to cover the distance in question and Emax is the maximal metabolic power. The time yielding Er = Emax was assumed to yield the best performance time.
Methods: Seventy-four male and female athletes from the Italian national canoe kayak teams participated in this study. A portable metabolic unit was used to determine V?O2max during an incremental exercise test on the boat. Peak oxygen uptake (V?O2peak) was also measured in a 2-min test at 100% race speed over 1000 m. Individual Ck values were evaluated in tests of 6, 5, and 2 min at average speeds of 84%, 90%, and 100% of the 1000-m race speed.
Results: The V?O2max values determined during the incremental or the 2-min test were not significantly different (4613 ± 619 vs 4582 ± 598 mL·min-1). The Ck (J·kg-1·m-1) of male kayakers increased from approximately 4 (at 3.23 m·s-1) to approximately 6 (at 4.63 m·s-1) and was approximately 30.7% smaller than that of male canoeists (P < 0.001). Over the same speed range, male kayakers were approximately 14.2% more economical than female kayakers (P = 0.044).
Conclusions: Individual theoretical best times and speeds were essentially equal to those measured during actual competitions.