Aerobic Capacity


The ability to keep performing tasks using the whole body for extended periods where the energy is produced aerobically.

Is the highest amount of oxygen consumed during maximal exercise in activities that use the large muscle groups in the legs or arms and legs combined.

Women's 1500m Final European Athletics Championships Zurich 2014

Factors that Affect Aerobic Capacity

  • Oxygen delivery to the muscles
  • The efficiency of the lungs to take in air
  • Diffusion capacity at the alveoli
  • Ability to remove wastes such as CO2
  • Age
  • Gender

Multi-Stage Beep Test 20m (recognised test)


This test involves continuous running between two lines 20m apart in time to recorded beeps. The subjects stand behind one of the lines facing the second line, and begin running when instructed by the recording. The speed at the start is quite slow. The subject continues running between the two lines, turning when signaled by the recorded beeps. After about one minute, a sound indicates an increase in speed, and the beeps will be closer together. This continues each minute (level). If the line is reached before the beep sounds, the subject must wait until the beep sounds before continuing. If the line is not reached before the beep sounds, the subject is given a warning and must continue to run to the line, then turn and try to catch up with the pace within two more ‘beeps’. The test is stopped if the subject fails to reach the line (within 2 meters) for two consecutive ends after a warning.

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Yo Yo Intermittent Recovery Test (recognised test)


Athletes begin by lining up on the start line. The Yo-Yo test CD begins and the first signal, athletes run toward the 20-metre line. At the second signal, they should arrive and turn at the 20-metre line, then run back to the start, arriving on the next beep. They keep jogging past the start marker, turn at the 5-metre line, return to the start and wait for the next signal. Note that athletes must pace one foot on or behind the start, 5-metre and 20-metre lines at the start and end of each test interval. Athletes should continue running for as long as possible. The test ends when an athlete cannot maintain the required pace for two successive trials. The first time the start marker is not reached, a warning is given; the second time, the athlete must withdrawal.

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Aerobic Capacity Training Methods

Long Interval:

Long Interval training is where the work period is dominated by the aerobic energy system. The aim of long-interval training is to increase the performer’s lactate inflection point (LIP), by performing at an intensity approximating a performer’s LIP, or very slightly above. Long- interval training can be particularly beneficial in developing pacing. For example, a 1500-metre swimmer would like to achieve a time of 15 minutes. The average pace to achieve this would be 100 metres in 1 minute. By performing five repetitions of 100 metres in 1 minute, each followed by 1 minute’s rest, the swimmer could get the feel of the pace required to achieve the desired time.

Two examples of long-interval training program:

  • Tuesday afternoons: 8×1 kilometre in 2.55 minutes, 3 of them faster at about 2.5 minutes, with 1 minute recovery between reps
  • Thursday afternoon: 8×400 metres each rep, followed by 200 metres float as a recovery.

Continuous Training:

Also known as long slow distance training, continuous training involves performing an activity, such as jogging, cycling or swimming, nonstop for a period of time. Continuous training forms the training foundation for other, more demanding, aerobic training methods, such as long-interval training or fartlek. As this is a less demanding aerobic training method, it is also associated with a lower risk of injury. To maximize the benefits of continuous training, a heart rate range of 70 to 85% max HR should be maintained for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Fartlek Training:

Fartlek= speed play.

It combines continuous running with random bursts of speed, increasing the contribution of the anaerobic energy systems to help supply this demand for increased energy. A popular application of fartlek used by cyclists and endurance runners is ‘hill work’. The hills force a random change in intensity. The advantage of fartlek training is that it improves both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. However, because of the random nature of fartlek, it is extremely difficult to overload, and considerable discipline is required to repeatedly perform random bursts of speed.

Circuit Training:

Circuit training comprises a sequenced performance of exercises at different activity stations (typically between 8 and 12 stations). The completion of each exercise in the circuit once is known as a lap. 2 or 3 laps of exercises are usually performed in a circuit. Circuit training can be tailored to suit the needs of an individual. This may be appropriate where a games analysis and subsequent fitness testing have identified several weaknesses in a particular performer. A circuit can then be developed specific to these needs.

Benefits of circuit training include:

  • Offers variety
  • Several fitness components can be targeted in the one training method
  • Specificity can be maintained
  • Minimal equipment is required

Types of circuit training include:

  • Fixed-time Circuit training- in this form of circuit, the performer completes as many repetitions of the exercise in the allocated time (for example, the maximum possible number of sit-ups in 30 seconds).
  • Fixed-load Circuit training- in this type of circuit, the number of repetitions to be performed at each station is pre-determined (for example, six clap push-ups at station 1; four 10-metre shuttle sprints at station 2 and so on).
  • Individual Circuit training- after selecting the exercises, the performer completes as many repetitions as possible in one minute. This circuit involves pre and post testing so the aim is to complete the circuit in a faster time at the next training session.
  • Overload circuit training- this can be achieved by:

Þ Increasing the time spent at each station

Þ Adding more stations

Þ Adding more laps to the circuit

Circuit Training - Exercises Ideas