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Endurance Training in Sports

Definition of the term endurance
      Endurance training is the act of exercising to increase stamina and endurance. The term "endurance training" generally refers to training an aerobic system as opposed an anaerobic system.

      The term endurance is a widely used. In fact it is often used interchangeably with terms like "aerobic", "anaerobic", "strength", "speed", and "stamina".   

      Endurance is an important for many sports and not just distance events like running, swimming and cycling. The type and amount of endurance training changes to meet to the specific requirements of each sport,  Traditional strength and power based team and individual sports also require a solid aerobic base.

Factors that limit endurance
      There are multiple factors that limit endurance in sports which are based predominantly with the causes of fatigue. Fatigue is a complex issue and one that consists of both physical and psychological factors. Exercise scientists have identified several major causes of exhaustion and research has shown that they can all be manipulated to some extent with proper training:

       VO2 max or maximal oxygen uptake. Elite endurance athletes typically have a high VO2 max and seems to be genetically predetermined. Untrained athletes can improved their VO2 max levels by as much as 20%. A goal of any endurance training program is to help the athlete reach their genetic upper limit for aerobic power.

      It is the lactate threshold which determines how what percentage of the 'aerobic' upper limit can actually be used. The exact  relationship between blood lactate accumulation and increasing exercise intensity is subject to debate. However, there is agreement on that training can have a favorable effect on lactate accumulation and when it occurs, which is associated with improving an athlete's endurance performance.

Exercise Economy
      Two athletes may have the same VO2 max expressed in ml/kg/min and they may have the same lactate threshold expressed as a percentage of their VO2 max. Yet what is far more relevant is the speed or workload at which the athlete is exercising when they reach these two markers. Athletes with a high exercise economy expend less energy (consume less oxygen) at any given workload. As such many researchers believe economy of exercise - be it stride length, swimming technique or body position on a bicycle - is an important contributor to endurance performance.

Substrate Utilization
      The oxidative energy system can utilize either fat or carbohydrate to produce energy. However, when exercise intensity is higher (>70% VO2 max), there is a greater reliance on carbohydrate than fat for fuel (8). If and when carbohydrate stores are depleted exercise intensity must reduce accordingly. With training, a greater percentage of fat is used as fuel at any given work rate. This has a sparing effect on carbohydrate allowing a higher intensity to be maintained for longer.

Muscle Fiber Characteristics
      Elite endurance athletes exhibit a high proportion of type I muscle fibers. Type I fibers have a high mitochondrial density and oxidative enzyme capacity which allows the majority of energy production to come from aerobic metabolism. While endurance training doesn't seem to change fiber types (i.e. type II fibers to type I), the metabolic characteristics of muscle fibers can be altered so that aerobic energy production becomes more efficient.

    Within skeletal muscle there are other adaptations elicited by aerobic endurance training.

Other Adaptations to Endurance Training
      Following suitable training, the body becomes better able to produce ATP via aerobic metabolism. The adaptations that occur improve oxygen delivery and oxygen utilization, increase the rate of aerobic energy production and the utilization of fat fuel and reduce disturbances in the acid-base balance. More specific adaptations are summarized in the table below:

Adaptations to Endurance Training
  

Respiratory
Enhanced O2 exchange in lungs
Improved blood flow through lungs
Decreased submaximal respiration rate
Decreased submaximal pulmonary ventilation
Cardiovascular
Increased cardiac output
Musculoskeletal
Increased mitochondrial size and density


Typical Endurance Training Mistakes:

#1: Isolated exercises do not produce any significant results. One muscle at a time moves simply don't stimulate enough muscle fibers to build lean muscle or expend enough energy to maximize your calorie burn.  Your exercise program should involve multiple exercises that stimulate as many muscles and expend as much energy as possible and at the same time.
 
#2: Working out with high-end, expensive exercise machines may make the gym look "professional", but the machines alter the way your body naturally moves and restrict your range of motion. This severely limits activating all of your muscles fibers and can cause excessive strain on your joints, leading to nagging injuries down the road. It's critical to incorporate exercises that allow your body to move in a natural, full range of motion so you can speed up your metabolism and tone your entire physique. 

#3: Doing long cardio exercise sessions requires a lot of effort with unnecessary stress on your joints to get minimal results.

#4: Doing traditional crunches and sit-ups to enhance "abs" or any exercises that target your "abs" won't make your "abs" get any more defined and they definitely don't burn any fat. The key to getting sculpted "abs" is to burn off that stubborn belly fat while stimulating your six abdominal muscles at the same time.

#5: Repeating the same workout routines over and over is a surefire way to STOP getting results. If you want to continue making progress and keep seeing changes in your body, you've got to start switching things up. The body has the ability to adapt quickly and when it does,  you hit the a plateau and stop making progress.
 
#6: Doing long workouts  do NOT equate to better or faster results. If your present exercise program at the gym isn't producing the changes you desire,  don't expect a different result doing more of the same thing!  Your body will respond better to quality rather than quantity.

Endurance Training

Raphael Brandon explores the benefits of endurance training for young athletes.

      The science of developmental physiology can supply answers to certain important questions regarding the training of children.

   Should children perform adult-type endurance training in reduced quantities, or should they be performing a different type of training that is tailored to their physiology?

      Science suggests the latter is true and that the type and intensity of training that is most effective for developing endurance in the young will be different from that used by adults. In this article I want to discuss some of the evidence that points to this. The average adult model for endurance training involves an intensity of 75% of max heart rate maintained for 20 to 30 minutes. If this is performed 3 to 5 times a week, then the average adult can expect a 25% improvement in VO2max. Both an increase in stroke volume and an improvement in O2 respiration and metabolism in the working muscles due to increased capillaries, mitochondria and enzyme activity cause this improvement in fitness.

Lower in children
      Several training studies have been carried out on children to find out what effect a cardiovascular (CV) training program will have on fitness levels. In general, the research shows that if children follow a 3 to 5 times a week routine of at least 20 minutes continuous activity for 12 weeks, then improvements in VO2max of 7 to 26% is possible.

      On average, though, and the results of some of the better-controlled experiments support this, a child can expect a 10% improvement in VO2max after following an 'adult-like' CV training program. The consensus from the research is that children can improve their aerobic fitness but not to the same degree as adults, when following a similar training program.

Why is this so?
      Some scientists have hypothesized that the reason for this diminished training effect in children is that a 'hormonal trigger' exists which limits CV trainability until puberty.

      It seems reasonable that until growth hormone levels, such as testosterone, rise, then increasing the size of the heart through endurance training may be limited, just as increasing the size of the muscles through strength training is limited until post-puberty.

    A child's heart is smaller than an adult's and does not achieve its natural full size until full height is reached.

   Thus stroke volume, which is the amount of blood the heart can pump with one beat, is lower in children and it may be that this limits any further improvements in VO2max.

Further evidence
      Evidence to support the theory that immaturity limits trainability can be obtained from observations of elite endurance-trained children. It is rare than an elite child athlete has a VO2max greater than 65 ml/kg/min. compared to elite adults who can achieve VO2max scores above 80 ml/kg/min. This suggests that even with well-trained individuals there is a ceiling on possible improvements.

      In addition, studies analyzing VO2max development in young endurance-trained athletes have shown that they benefit from a jump in VO2max levels around puberty of sometimes as much as 10 points. This observed hike in fitness levels supports the idea that puberty is a crucial time for the trainability of VO2max. Another factor that could explain the diminished training effect in children is that the pre-training status of the average child is higher than the pre-training status of the average adult.

      Children have VO2max scores of around 40 to 50 ml/kg/min whereas the untrained adult scores in the 35 to 40 ml/kg/min range. Children are naturally fit and will remain fit independent of their activity levels until 14 years in girls and 18 years in boys. Thereafter, CV training is required to maintain fitness. Thus it seems logical that if children have higher fitness levels than adults to start with, they will gain fewer benefits when following the average 'adult' CV training plan.      

Recommended Reading:

Developing A Training Plan

Physical and Mental Training Considerations

The Different Types of Endurance Training
Interval training, fartlek training, tempo runs... there are several distinct forms of endurance training - here they are with some sample plans...

VO2max - Your Aerobic Potential
Endurance training and VO2 max seem to inextricably linked. While maximal oxygen uptake is certainly not the be all and end all of endurance performance, understanding what it is and how it can be affected by training can help athletes better prepare themselves for competition...

Lactate Threshold - Tapping Your Aerobic Potential
Perhaps more indicative of success in endurance sports, an perhaps more trainable, is lactate threshold. Often a confusing subject for some coaches and athletes, from a practical point of view, improving lactate threshold is relatively straightforward...

How to Determine Your Anaerobic Threshold
There are several non-invasive tests used to determine the lactate and anaerobic threshold. What are they and which are the most reliable?

Lactate Threshold Training
Once you have determined your lactate threshold how can you improve it? While the experts debate even its existence, athletes can still benefit from delaying the onset of lactate accumulation...

Interval Training for Sport-Specific Endurance
Interval training is more demanding than continuous type training and brings about different adaptations. It may also be more suitable for multi-sprint sports such as hockey, rugby and soccer. However, even ultra-endurance athletes are finding that a reduction in volume in favor of some shorter, more intense interval training can improve performance...

How to Design a Fartlek Training Session for Your Sport
Fartlek may sound strange but it's a highly effective form of training. And with so many variations you need to make sure it's specific to your event...

Circuit Training For Endurance
Here are two tried and trusted circuits for long distance athletes...

Heart Rate Training for Endurance Events
Heart rate is a temperamental thing. Yet its practicality continues to make it a popular training aid. Learn how best to use your heart rate to improve your endurance training sessions...

Using Heart Rate Reserve to Calculate Target Heart Rate
How to use the Karvonen formula and the heart rate reserve method for a more accurate target heart rate zone...

Altitude Training
Unquestionably, acclimatization to altitude improves performance at high levels but can altitude training improve an athlete's performance at sea-level?

Lactate Tolerance Training
Lactate tolerance training will help you to recover more quickly from successive bursts of speed and power. It will increase your tolerance to lactic acid and allow you maintain a high work rate for longer.

References:

10 commandments of endurance training  The 10 commandments of endurance training. By Vic Brown; Published Dec. 28, 2010.

Endurance Training For Sport

Different Types of Endurance Training  Interval training, fartlek training, tempo runs... there are several distinct forms of endurance training - here they are with some sample plans.

VO2max - Your Aerobic Potential  Endurance training and VO2 max seem to inextricably linked. While maximal oxygen uptake is certainly not the be all and end all of endurance performance, understanding what it is and how it can be affected by training can help athletes better prepare themselves for competition.

Lactate Threshold - Tapping Your Aerobic Potential  Perhaps more indicative of success in endurance sports, an perhaps more trainable, is lactate threshold. Often a confusing subject for some coaches and athletes, from a practical point of view, improving lactate threshold is relatively straight
forward.

How to Determine Your Anaerobic Threshold There are several non-invasive tests used to determine the lactate and anaerobic threshold. What are they and which are the most reliable?

Lactate Threshold Training  Once you have determined your lactate threshold how can you improve it? While the experts debate even its existence, athletes can still benefit from delaying the onset of lactate accumulation.

How to Design a Fartlek Training Session for Your Sport  Fartlek may sound strange but it's a highly effective form of training. And with so many variations you need to make sure it's specific to your event.

Interval Training for Sport-Specific Endurance  Interval training is more demanding than continuous type training and brings about different adaptations. It may also be more suitable for multi-sprint sports such as hockey, rugby and soccer. However, even ultra-endurance athletes are finding that a reduction in volume in favor of some shorter, more intense interval training can improve performance.

Circuit Training For Endurance  Here are two tried and trusted circuits for long distance athletes.

Resources:

The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:

  
Physical and Mental Training Considerations
Learning & Training Evaluation Theory
Exercises to Develop Coordination
Training Approaches
Training Strategies
Daily Training Tasks
Principle Of Variation
Training Transfer
Off-Season Conditioning
Peak Performance Training
Endurance Training
Building Endurance
PDF  Weight training Exercises
PDF  Strength Training Exercises
PDF  Power Skating Classes
PDF  Core Body Training
PDF  Endurance Training Plan

All materials are copy protected. 
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.


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