OBJECTIVE: To examine the responses of a previously untrained, able bodied male to a 10 month training programme in a wheelchair. METHODS: Physiological indices and performance times were measured over the 10 month period during periods of general conditioning, specific conditioning, and competition. RESULTS: Although both peak oxygen uptake and maximum heart rate increased it was found that the main contribution to improvements in performance was from increased pushing economy. The value of peak oxygen uptake for the subject was within the normal range for paraplegics; however, maximum ventilation exceeded the levels normally achieved by paraplegics. At the conclusion of the study the subject successfully completed a wheelchair marathon in a time of 2 h 9 min at an average speed of 5.17 m s1. CONCLUSIONS: It was possible for an able bodied person with no previous experience in a wheelchair to successfully compete in a wheelchair marathon with only 10 months training. The main contribution to the improvement in performance was from increased pushing economy.
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