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Aerobic Capacity

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What is Aerobic Capacity?

Aerobic capacity is a measure of oxygen use in the body. It measures the highest amount of oxygen consumed during maximal exercise. This is only measured in large muscle groups such as legs, arms, or the two combined. The body creates energy from fats, carbohydrates, and occasionally proteins. These materials combine to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This molecule is the primary source of energy for the human body. ATP allows muscle contractions and all bodily functions to occur. During aerobic exercise, the body has to create and produce ATP to keep up with the activities demand. As the body trains the aerobic system, it becomes efficient at creating energy and can do the same amount of work without as much energy and produce more ATP faster. With highly trained athletes, they can make more ATP and use that ATP more effectively during activity, meaning they can have more work with less effort.

Aerobic capacity is essential in all aspects of life and sports. A high aerobic capacity allows individuals to complete everyday tasks without exerting themselves to exhaustion. This will enable athletes to compete at a high intensity in a practice or game. Health care experts believe it is the number one component of a healthy life. Training someone’s aerobic capacity lessens health risk factors and helps increase one’s physical well-being and daily life. From athletes to the elderly, it is essential to continue to increase aerobic capacity. Training will benefit the cardiovascular system and respiratory systems. The cardiovascular system includes the heart, which pumps oxygenated blood through the blood vessels that deliver oxygen and other nutrients to the body to survive.

During exercise, the blood supply is more significant to the working muscles, allowing the muscles to have enough oxygen and energy to continue to perform. The respiratory system includes organs that help with breathing. These include the lungs, airways, diaphragm, and blood vessels. The respiratory system takes in oxygen from the air and puts it into the bloodstream. At the same time, it removes carbon monoxide (CO2). These two systems work together to provide the entire body with oxygen and nutrients to produce energy to survive. Training aerobically will help both these systems become more efficient. The heart becomes more robust for the cardiovascular system, increasing the volume of blood pumped through with each beat, meaning the heart can beat slower while pumping the same amount of blood through the body. The lunges can absorb more oxygen by adapting to the workload put on the body. With both systems working together, the body can absorb and pump more oxygen through the body with less energy than before training.

There are many different theories and ways to train the aerobic system to increase one’s endurance. Some methods are better suited for athletes, while others are more suited for untrained adults. It depends on what the goals are and what the client’s fitness level is. Walking for thirty minutes a day is the most recommended way to increase aerobic capacity for untrained clients. For athletes or higher trained clients, the goal is the same: to improve their aerobic system to perform to their best. Training for untrained and highly trained clients can be written similarly, but with the higher trained clients having higher and more complex intensity, frequency, and duration. Training can include long moderate efforts that consistently tax the body at the same rate. Another way is through high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts using both anaerobic and aerobic systems to create an oxygen debt. HIIT workouts build oxygen debt by having the work intervals tax the anaerobic systems, and the recovery between intervals will be aerobic. During the recovery interval, the body, will replace the oxygen that the anaerobic system depleted. The critical factor in increasing the oxygen debt is not letting the body fully recover from work intervals. The next interval will begin without all the oxygen restored in the anaerobic system. After the next work interval, the body will have to replace all the oxygen from that interval, plus the oxygen still missing from the interval(s) before. After each rep, the body will have more and more debt to restore. Once the workout is over, it can take several hours for all the oxygen to be regained. As the client continues to train. The body will adapt and be able to use oxygen more efficiently and restore oxygen faster.

The world of endurance sports is always trying to find the perfect way to train its athletes in the ideal way to increase their aerobic capacity. An athlete with an increased capacity can maintain faster efforts easier than other athletes with a lower aerobic capacity. The science behind all this is that an athlete with a higher capacity uses more oxygen to turn into more energy at a more efficient rate. This means that these athletes will be able to move faster and more efficiently. This will give the athletes an edge over their competition. The main sports that focus on training aerobic capacity is running and cycling. The primary goal of these sports is to complete an event in the shortest amount of time. For endurance athletes to perform well, they need to be efficient in using oxygen for their body to use energy to propel themselves through the desired event. The greater aerobic capacity one has over another athlete gives them an advantage.

Aerobic capacity is a critical factor in sports for athletes. It affects all aspects of games and competitions, from running on the field or court, recovering during a timeout, and continuing to perform even after playing without any breaks. The nature of endurance sports is very different from typical ball sports. Most events are individual. It is a race either against other competitors or the clock, with no timeouts or breaks. The individual part is mentally challenging because there are not always teammates to run with. It can be just one athlete racing against the clock with no breaks. All the body systems have to be able to handle the workload placed on them.


By: Max Miller

Certified Sports Performance Trainer

123 Total Fitness

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