Training is the pursuit of any activity that will ultimately lead to an increase in performance in a specific sport. That’s what we mean when we talk about training!
So, training should be directed at bettering performance in an athlete’s chosen sport. As physiotherapists we should identify the most important components of fitness for each particular sport and tailor an athletes training toward improving these particular components.
Different training methods exist. These include aerobic training, anaerobic training, plyometric training, agility training, strength and power training – the list goes on. Today we are going to talk specifically about two of the most common types of training…. aerobic and anaerobic training.
Aerobic training or endurance training is performed to increase aerobic capacity or fitness. We measure aerobic capacity by measuring VO2 Max or the maximum oxygen an individual is able to utilize in one minute, per kilogram of body weight. VO2 Max can be measured in a fancy laboratory, but unfortunately most of us don’t train in this sort of setting, rather opting for the sports field or the gym. Luckily there is a simpler, albeit less exact method, known as predicted VO2 max which is estimated by measuring the heart rate at a specific workload which is a method commonly used.
It’s reported that aerobic training effects occur while maintaining a heart rate of between 70% and 85% of one’s maximum heart rate. Maximum heart rate is estimated by subtracting your age from 220. So it is pretty easy to do: for a 30 year old like me, max heart rate would be 220-30=190 beats per minute. And the ideal range of heart rate for me to produce an aerobic effect would be between 135 (70%) and 160 (85%) beats per minute.
And you thought jocks didn’t do maths!
Many sportspeople find benefit in the endurance and fitness gains made by training aerobically as well as the health benefits of a stronger cardiovascular system and resultant weight loss.
Anaerobic training burns glucose as an energy source but does this without oxygen present, to produce energy. Oxygen is absent because this sort of training is typically high intensity for a short period of time and there isn’t time for full oxygen delivery to the muscle cells using the glucose. This pathway utilizes ATP as its energy substrate. The process produces less energy per molecule of glucose utilized than aerobic exercise does when burning up that glucose with oxygen present.
Anaerobic training improves the capacity to maintain a high rate of power production at very high intensities for short period of time. This type of training helps maintain muscle recruitment and muscle contractile function after training so that the onset of fatigue is delayed, as well as improving the body’s tolerance to lactic acid build up. Lactic acid is a by-product of training anaerobically and contributes to the discomfort felt while training.
Interval training or intermittent exercise is the most efficient method of increasing anaerobic fitness. Such training involves bouts of exercise separated by periods of rest or recovery. The principle behind this type of training is to achieve a level of lactic acidosis with one individual effort and then allow the body to recover from its effects before embarking on another bout of exercise. This is done to train the body to cope with higher levels of lactic acid before shutting down and to recover faster.
As mentioned, to obtain maximum gains from interval training it must be activity/sport specific. Also remember that because of its increased intensity, the potential for injury is a little higher than that presented by aerobic training. It’s therefore beneficial for athletes to use a variety of training methods to take advantage of the benefits offered by each and allow time for rest and recovery of the body.
BY: Andrew Savvides
General Health/Fitness, Lower Limb injuries, Upper Limb injuries