Back to the future! Revisiting the physiological cost of negative work as a team-based activity for exercise physiology students
We implemented a team-based activity in our exercise physiology teaching laboratory that was inspired from Abbott et al.’s classic 1952 Journal of Physiology paper titled “The physiological cost of negative work.” Abbott et al. connected two bicycles via one chain. One person cycled forward (muscle shortening contractions, positive work) while the other resisted the reverse moving pedals (muscle lengthening contractions, negative work), and the cost of work was compared. This study was the first to link human whole body energetics with isolated muscle force-velocity characteristics. The laboratory activity for our students (n = 35) was designed to reenact Abbott et al.’s experiment, integrate previously learned techniques, and illustrate differences in physiological responses to muscle shortening and lengthening contractions. Students (11–12 students/laboratory section) were split into two teams (positive work vs. negative work). One student from each team volunteered to cycle against the other for ~10 min. The remaining students in each team were tasked with measuring: 1) O2 consumption, 2) heart rate, 3) blood lactate, and 4) perceived exertion. Students discovered that O2 consumption during negative work was about one-half that of positive work and all other physiological parameters were also substantially lower. Muscle lengthening contractions were discussed and applied to rehabilitation and sport training. The majority of students (>90%) agreed or strongly agreed that they stayed engaged during the activity and it improved their understanding of exercise physiology. All students recommended the activity be performed again. This activity was engaging, emphasized teamwork, yielded clear results, was well received, and preserved the history of classic physiological experiments.
Advances in Physiology Education
Elmer, S. J.
Back to the future! Revisiting the physiological cost of negative work as a team-based activity for exercise physiology students.
Advances in Physiology Education,
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