Exercise-induced trunk fatigue decreases double poling performance in well-trained cross-country skiers



To examine the effects of exercise-induced trunk fatigue on double poling performance, physiological responses and trunk strength in cross-country skiers.


Sixteen well-trained male cross-country skiers completed two identical pre- and post-performance tests, separated by either a 25-min trunk fatiguing exercise sequence or rest period in a randomized, controlled cross-over design. Performance tests consisted of a maximal trunk flexion and extension test, followed by a 3-min double poling (DP) test on a ski ergometer.


Peak torque during isometric trunk flexion (− 66%, p < .001) and extension (− 7.4%, p = .03) decreased in the fatigue relative to the control condition. Mean external power output during DP decreased by 14% (p < .001) and could be attributed both to reduced work per cycle (− 9%, p = .019) and a reduced cycle rate (− 6%, p = .06). Coinciding physiological changes in peak oxygen uptake (− 6%, p < .001) and peak ventilation (− 7%, p < .001) could be observed. Skiers chose a more even-pacing strategy when fatigued, with the performance difference between fatigue and control condition being most prominent during the first 2 min of the post-test.


In well-trained cross-country skiers, exercise-induced trunk fatigue led to a substantial decrease in DP performance, caused by both decreased work per cycle and cycle rate and accompanied by reduced aerobic power. Hence, improved fatigue resistance of the trunk may therefore be of importance for high-intensity DP in cross-country skiing.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



One repetition maximum


3-min test


Analysis of variance


Blood lactate concentration


Control condition


Coefficient of variation


Double poling


Fatigue condition

HRpeak :

Peak heart rate


Intra-class coefficient


Rating of perceived exertion


Respiratory exchange ratio


Standard deviation

VEpeak :

Peak ventilation

VO2max :

Maximal oxygen uptake

VO2peak :

Peak oxygen uptake




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We would like to thank all the athletes for their effort and support. We further thank Simone Magdika and Jessica Schlageter for the assistance during data collection.

Author information

EB, ØS and OF conceived and designed research. EB conducted all experiments. EB, LD, RR and OF analyzed data. EB wrote manuscript. OF, ØS, RR, LZ and LD supervised the project. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results, read, edited and approved the manuscript.

Correspondence to Elias Bucher.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Additional information

Communicated by Bénédicte Schepens.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Fatigue_Protocol.mp4 demonstrates the exercise sequence and standardization of each exercise that was used for the fatigue condition. (MP4 168854 KB)

Fatigue_Protocol.mp4 demonstrates the exercise sequence and standardization of each exercise that was used for the fatigue condition. (MP4 168854 KB)

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Bucher, E., Sandbakk, Ø., Donath, L. et al. Exercise-induced trunk fatigue decreases double poling performance in well-trained cross-country skiers. Eur J Appl Physiol 118, 2077–2087 (2018) doi:10.1007/s00421-018-3938-4

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  • Core
  • Ergometer
  • Ski
  • Power output
  • Technique