‘Going for a run’ is a common phrase associated with endurance training. In fact running is believed to be one of the most beneficial ways to improve your aerobic capacity and metabolic fitness. Although this is one way to build endurance, modern research has found that a diverse strategy towards endurance training programmes helps in maximizing the physiological adaptations. This would include a combination of long, moderate and short-duration exercise with varying intensities.
Each form of exercise comes with tremendous benefits and has distinct advantages. But the real question is –…
- Modern research has found that a diverse strategy towards endurance training programs helps in maximising the physiological adaptations: a combination of long, moderate and short-duration exercise with varying intensities,
- In addition to the above considerations, it is important to understand the factors related to aerobic endurance performance. These are maximal aerobic power (VO2 max), lactate threshold, exercise economy and heart rate,
- Using the above factors, the types of aerobic endurance training programmes that best fit the individual’s needs and goals may be varied based on the mode, frequency, intensity and duration of exercise.
It is important to take into consideration the individual’s needs, specific event/sport and the phase of training. Further, creativity and thought are essential while building endurance programmes due to the diverse ways in which endurance can be trained.
In addition to the above considerations, it is important to understand the factors related to aerobic endurance performance: maximal aerobic power (VO2 max), lactate threshold, exercise economy and heart rate.
- VO2 Max: is the maximum amount of oxygen that can be utilized by an individual during intense/maximal exercise. The higher the VO2 max value, the better one’s aerobic performance.
- Lactate Threshold: is the %VO2 max at which the blood lactate concentrations begin to increase above resting levels. The ability of an individual to sustain aerobic energy production at a high %VO2 max without increasing the levels of blood lactate is a key performance indicator of a high-level aerobic endurance.
- Exercise Economy: is the measure of the energy cost of an activity. A high exercise economy expends less energy, leading to better performance. Efficiency of movement is key, hence, good technique, appropriate aerodynamics and body mass size play a large role in improving exercise economy.
- Heart rRate Measures: are the most used variables in the prescription of aerobic exercise due to its close relationship with oxygen consumption—percentage of maximum heart rate (%HRmax). An accurate means of regulating intensity is to determine the heart rate associated with the %VO2 max or lactate tThreshold.
Additionally, there are other factors that influence aerobic performance such as a high ability to use fat as a fuel source, a high percentage of Type 1 muscle fibres, etc.
Using the above factors, the types of aerobic endurance training programmes that best fit the individual’s needs and goals may vary based on the mode, frequency, intensity and duration of exercise. Here, we are going to take a look at various types of endurance training programmes.
1.Long, slow distance (LSD)
The intensity of LSD is equivalent to 70% VO2 max (≅80% HRmax) for a duration of >60 minutes, making it a relatively low intensity activity with a high volume of training.
The physiological benefits include enhanced cardiovascular function, improved energy production, the increased utilisation of fat as a fuel and the oxidative capacity of the muscles. Chronic use of this type of training will cause a shift from Type 2x (fast twitch, anaerobic) to Type 1 (slow twitch, oxidative) fibres.
There is a disadvantage of using this mode of training chronically as it does not stimulate the neurological patterns required for a race or marathon.
This type of training occurs at a higher intensity for a fixed duration. It can be conducted in two ways: steady tempo and intermittent tempo training.
Steady Tempo training intensity corresponds to the lactate threshold, which occurs at a higher intensity for about 20–30 minutes, also known as threshold training.
Intermittent tempo training sessions have the same intensity but consist of a series of shorter intervals with brief recovery periods between work intervals. In team sports, this intensity of the intervals is calculated by taking 60–70% of their 100m sprint time and performing the intervals of a similar distance at that fixed intensity.
The primary objective for this type of training is to enhance the body systems’ ability to sustain exercise at that pace as it involves a similar pattern of muscle fibre recruitment required in competition/races. Other benefits include improved running economy and increased lactate threshold.
This type of training typically involves exercise at an intensity equal to or greater than VO2 max. The work–rest ratios further impact the intensity of interval training. Interval training permits an individual to train at intensities close to their VO2 max for a greater amount of time in a single session, as compared to continuous high intensity training.
For endurance athletes, it usually consists of work periods between 3–5 minutes with an equal rest ratio. For high-intensity interval training (HIIT), the work periods are shorter with high intensity and shorter rest periods (30s on–20s off, etc)
An important consideration is to ensure that the individual has a good base of endurance training prior to interval training as it is very stressful and should be used sparingly. The benefits include an increased VO2 max and enhanced anaerobic metabolism.
This is a combination of the above types of training. A fartlek run involves easy running (60–70% HRmax), combined with short, fast bursts of running (90–95% HRmax) for short periods of time. Hence, we see a combination of long, slow distance (LSD), tempo and interval training.
It is a great tool that challenges all the physiological systems of the body and can be used for running, cycling and swimming. The main benefits include an enhanced VO2 max, greater lactate threshold, improved running economy and appropriate fuel utilization.
In addition to the above endurance training programme types, it is important to consider the other methods of training accessories that might influence endurance performance.
1. Cross training: is a mode of training that is used by individuals to maintain general conditioning while reducing the likelihood of injuries and to break the monotony of training. An example is a marathon runner who cycles or swims instead of running. However, to be effective, this mode of training should be performed at similar intensities of the regular training programme.
The benefits drawn from this is improved cardiovascular and musculoskeletal fitness whilst distributing the load over various muscle groups and regions of the body.
2.Resistance training: is an important tool that is often overlooked for endurance athletes. Although it may not improve the aerobic capacity of the individual, it has added benefits such as increased muscle mass, enhanced recovery from injuries, prevention of overuse injuries via the distribution of load and the reduction of muscle imbalances.
There is an improvement in power production as well, making it vital for competitive athletes by enabling them to finish races at a faster pace.
Training to improve aerobic endurance performance requires a scientifically backed and well-rounded programme that also includes different types of training in a periodised manner. After all, one can’t do everything at once! Periodic assessments of performance should be developed in conjunction with endurance programs so that we may understand the improvements as well as watch out for any red flags such as injuries and overtraining.
Use these types of training to bring about the adaptation you are looking for that lines up with your individual goals and needs!
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general information and educational purposes only. It neither provides any medical advice nor intends to substitute professional medical opinion on the treatment, diagnosis, prevention or alleviation of any disease, disorder or disability. Always consult with your doctor or qualified healthcare professional about your health condition and/or concerns before undertaking a new healthcare regimen including making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
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