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Pedalling like Chris Froome or Alberto Contador might seem appealing, but Oxford University researchers have found that for most of us it’s likely to reduce rather than improve our performance.

Student cycling outside Oxford University © Shutterstock: Andresr
Student cycling outside Oxford University

A team from Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences looked at a common measure of aerobic fitness called VO2 max. While it can be measured accurately in a laboratory, it is often more practical to use techniques that estimate VO2 max for individuals by getting them to exercise to their maximal level. These include the ‘bleep test’ of shuttle runs used by police forces and the Royal Air Force among others, or tests using a cycle ergometer, also known as an ‘exercise bike’.

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