Aerobic Training


Aerobic Capacity + VO2 Max

Aerobic capacity - the ability of the body to inspire, transport + utilise oxygen to perform sustained periods of aerobic activity

VO2 max - the maximum amount of oxygen inspired, transported + utilised per minute of exhaustive exercise

Factors affecting VO2 max:

  • age - peak at approximately 25-28 years old + decreases approximately 1% per year from decreased efficiency of CV + respiratory system
  • genes - gentic make up + ability to adapt to training (type 1 vs type 2)
  • gender - females have 15-30% lower VO2 max than males due to; greater % body fat, decreased external respiration + O2 intake, increased resting HR + lower stroke volume, cardiac output + haemoglobin levels 
  • aerobic training - increases VO2 max by 10-20% due to adaptations + helps maintain VO2 max in ageing performers
  • physiological make up - greater efficiency of respiratory system, cardiovascular system + muscle cells to inspire, transport + utilise oxygen
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Measuring VO2 Max - Direct Gas Analysis

Performs continuous exercise at progressive intensities with expired air being captured by mask lined to gas analyser which measures concentrations of O2 + CO2 before using calculation to work out VO2 max


  • direct + accurate measurement of VO2 max
  • can be used doing different exercise e.g. running + cycling


  • maximal test to exhaustion so can't be used with elderly or those with health conditions
  • access to specialist equipment required
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Measuring VO2 Max - Cooper 12 Minute Run

Subject runs continuously for as far as possible for 12 minutes + put into calculation table to work out VO2 max


  • large groups perform test at same time
  • subject can administer own test
  • simple + cheap equipment required
  • simple calculation using table


  • prediction of VO2 max instead of measurement
  • maximal test so limited by motivation + can't be used with elderly or those with health conditions
  • test not sport specific so advantageous to runners
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Measuring VO2 Max - Queens College Step Test

Subject continuously steps on and off box for three minutes in time with beep + HR taken every 5 seconds after completing test for 15 minutes to predict VO2 max from recovery rate


  • sub-maximal
  • simple + cheap equipment required
  • HR easily monitored
  • simple calculations using table


  • only prediction of VO2 max
  • HR recovery can be affected by prior exercise or food/fluid intake
  • not sport specific
  • step height could disadvantage shorter subjects
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Measuring VO2 Max - NCF Multistage Fitness Test

Subject performs continuous 20m suttle run at progressive intensities until exhaustion as shuttles have to be done in a shorter time from audio cue with a level given to calculate VO2 max from comparison table


  • large groups can perform test at same time
  • simple + cheap equipment required
  • easy calculation using VO2 max equivalent tables


  • prediction of VO2 max not measurement
  • maximal test so limited by subject motivation + can't be used by elderly or those with health conditions
  • not sport specific
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Heart Rate Training Zones

Designed to ensure exercise intensity isn't too high as may fatigue quickly or too low as wouldn't make adaptations

Karoven's principle - HR max = 220 - age

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Continuous Training

Steady-state low to moderate intensity work for prolonged period of time involving large muscle groups e.g. jogging, swimming, cycling + rowing

Intensity - 60-80% of HR max

Duration - 20-80 minutes

Fartlek training - continuous steady-state aerobic training interspersed with higher intensity bouts and lower intensity recovery periods

Used by endurance performers e.g. triathletes + marathon runners

+ Builds aerobic base

- Not specific for team sports

- Takes long time

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High Intensity Interval Training

Periods of work followed by periods of rest using sets + reps

Type of exercise - cycling, running, walking + swimming + used by team sports players


  • intensity - 80-95% of HR max
  • duration - 5-8 minutes


  • intensity - 40-50% of HR max
  • duration - equal to work (1:1 ratio)

+ Shorter with similar effects

- Longer recovery period required

- Can't be done by elderly or those with health conditions

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Adaptations to Respiratory System

Stronger respiratory muscles:

  • increased mechanics of breathing efficiency
  • increased maximal lung volumes
  • decreased respiratory fatigue

Increased surface area of alveoli - increased internal gaseous exchange

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Adaptations to Cardiovascular System

Cardiac hypertrophy:

  • increased SV during rest + exercise + increased CO at rest due to increased filling capacity + force of ventricular contraction
  • decreased resting HR + faster HR recovery after exercise

Increased elasticity of arterial walls:

  • increased efficiency of vascular shunt mechanism
  • increased vasoconstriction + dilation to redistribute CO
  • decreased resting blood pressure + increased blood pressure regulation

Increased blood/plasma volume - lower blood viscocity so aids blood flow + venous return

Increased number of red blood cells/haemoglobin content - increase in oxygen-carrying capacity so increased gaseous exchange

Capillarisation surrounding alveoli + slow oxidative muscle fibres - increased surface area for blood flow so increased gaseous exchange + decreased distance for diffusion

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Adaptations to Musculo-Skeletal System

Slow oxidative muscle fibre hypertrophy - increased potential for aerobic energy production so increase in strength + decreased energy cost which delays fatigue

Increased size + density of mitochondria - increased utilisation of oxygen from increased aerobic energy production + increased metabolism of triglycerides (fats)

Increased myglobin stores - increased storage + transport of oxygen to mitochondria

Increased stores of glycogen + triglycerides - increased aerobic energy fuels so increased performance duration

Fast oxidative glycotic fibres becoming more aerobic - increased aerobic energy production, fuel + oxygen utilisation

Increased strength of connective tissue - tendons + ligaments strengthen which increases joint stability which reduces injury risk

Increased thickness of articular cartilage - increased synovial fluid production so increased joint lubrication

Increased bone mineral density - increased calcium absorption so increased bone strength + less injury risk

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Adaptations to Metabolic Function

Increased activity of aerobic enzymes - increased metabolism of triglycerides + glycogen

Decreased fat mass:

  • increased lean mass
  • increased metabolic rate
  • increased breakdown of triglycerides

Decreased insulin resistance - improved glucose tolerance + treatment/prevention of type 2 diabetes

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