Aerobic Fitness

Aerobic Fitness

In this article we’re going to be talking about aerobic fitness, what it is, and how it affects both the general population and the athletic population. Aerobic fitness refers to the body’s ability to use oxygen effectively and efficiently to produce energy for physical activity. This type of fitness is crucial for a variety of activities, from daily activities like walking and household chores to more intense athletic pursuits like running or cycling. 


In the general population, aerobic fitness is important for maintaining overall health and well-being. It can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, and also improve cardiovascular function and mental health. For the athletic population, aerobic fitness is even more crucial. It is a key component of many sports and is essential for endurance activities such as marathons, triathlons, and long-distance cycling. Aerobic fitness also plays a critical role in recovery from intense training sessions and competition.


Aerobic fitness is essential for both the general population and the athletic population. As coaches, it’s our job to help the people we work with develop and maintain this type of fitness to support their overall health and athletic performance.


So next let’s talk about some of the ways we can test our aerobic capacity or fitness levels.

There are several different fitness tests that can be used to assess aerobic capacity for both the general population and the athletic population. So let’s run through a few examples:

For the general population I want to talk about 3 easy to implement and well-researched tests:

  1. The Rockport Walking Test: This test is a 1-mile walk test that assesses aerobic capacity based on heart rate and walks time.
  2. The second test is the 12-Minute Run/Walk Test: In this test, Participants run or walk as far as they can in 12 minutes to assess aerobic capacity.
  3. Finally the 6-Minute Walk Test: Participants walk as far as they can in 6 minutes to assess their aerobic capacity.


A link to How to perform each test in detail will be listed below this video. 


Again, we have 3 main tests for the athletic population we can use 

  1. The first and most widely accepted valid and reliable marker of aerobic capacity is the VO2 Max Test: This test is A laboratory-based test that measures the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can consume during intense exercise.
  2. Next we have a Cooper Test: This test is A 12-minute run test that assesses aerobic capacity by measuring the distance covered in 12 minutes.
  3. Finally we have the Beep Test some of you might remember this test from your physical education classes in school however still a very reliable measure of aerobic capacity in the athletic population: This test can also rerefer to as the 20-meter shuttle run test, this test assesses aerobic capacity by measuring the number of 20-meter shuttles runs an individual can complete in a set time period. 


I personally use a test very similar to this test called the YoYo IR1 or Intermittent intermittent recovery test with the athletes that I work with. The yo-yo intermittent recovery test is very similar to the bleep test as it assesses an athlete’s ability to perform multiple 20-meter shuttle runs in a cascading time frame, which essentially means the time for each shuttle run becomes shorter and shorter as the test progresses.


A link to How to perform each test in detail will be listed below this video. 


These are just a few examples of the many different tests that can be used to assess aerobic capacity. The best test for a specific individual will depend on their goals, fitness level, and available resources.


Next were going to talk about how to program aerobic-type training and in order to do that we need to first understand heart rate training. 


Heart rate zone training is a type of training that involves working out at specific heart rate ranges to target specific physiological adaptations. By monitoring your heart rate during exercise, you can determine which heart rate zone you’re in and adjust your intensity accordingly.


There are typically five different heart rate zones, each with a specific target: Zone 1 to 3 are your aerobic zones and zones 4 and 5 are your anaerobic zones. 


  1. Zone 1 which is considered to be 50-60% of maximum heart rate: This is the easiest zone to work in and is often referred to as the “fat-burning” zone. It’s great for recovery workouts or for building endurance.
  2. Zone 2 is considered to be 60-70% of maximum heart rate: This zone is still relatively low intensity, but is more challenging than Zone 1. It’s often used for building endurance and improving overall aerobic fitness.
  3. Zone 3 is considered 70-80% of maximum heart rate: This zone is referred to as the “aerobic” zone and is ideal for improving aerobic capacity. Workouts in this zone typically involve sustained, moderate-intensity exercise.
  4. Zone 4 is considered to be 80-90% of maximum heart rate: This is the “anaerobic” zone and is often used for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or other types of intense, short-duration workouts.
  5. Zone 5 is considered to be 90-100% of maximum heart rat): This is the “red line” zone and is typically reserved for extremely intense, short-duration workouts. It is not recommended to spend much time in this zone.


It’s important to note that the specific heart rate ranges for each zone can vary based on individual factors such as age, fitness level, and even medication use. 


So now that we understand our heart rate training zones let’s see what type of programs we can construct while keeping within zones 1-3 so the training stays aerobic in nature. Here are some examples of aerobic training sessions:

  1. Session 1 – Continuous steady-state cardio lasting 20-30 minutes. With this type of aerobic training, you can utilise exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling, or rowing. The intensity should be kept at a moderate level for the full 20 – 30 minutes which would be Zone 1 and 
  2. 2. Next we have interval training, which can last anywhere from 5 to 20 min per interval with 1 -3 min of active recovery between each interval to bring your heart rate back down. Repeat this pattern a total of 2-3 times. You should be in zone 3 when you’re working and back to zone 2 for your active rest. 
  3. Finally we have Resistance Training & Circuit training: A workout consisting of several different exercises performed back to back with little to no rest in between is a great way to develop aerobic fitness levels. For example, completing Lunges, RDL, Push-Ups, and Pull-Ups all back-to-back. 


It is important to note as a coach who is prescribing programs to the people you train if the goal is to get 4-5 aerobic sessions per week. You have prescribed 3 resistance training sessions for that individual, as long as the intensity of the resistance training session is not too high. Hence, they train at an intensity of less than 80% of their 1 RM and the resistance training session is kept to hypertrophy-based training so that individual will also develop their aerobic system due to the nature of hypertrophy-type training. If they start to train at a high intensity of 80% and above such as max strength training they will tap into their anaerobic and or  A lactate energy system something we will cover in a later video. Keep that in mind as you move forward and plan your program design. 


These are just a few examples of the many different types of aerobic training sessions you can prescribe. The specific workout will depend on the individual’s goals, fitness level, and available resources such as training equipment.


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