Maintain Aerobic Capacity
Part 2 of the Back to Basics in Strength and Conditioning for Gaelic Games Athletes is back and today I will explain why you would like to focus on your aerobic capacity and what the best ways are to maintain it.
The efficiency of your Aerobic System underpins all what people call "Game Fitness". Even though being fit for field sport is multi-dimensional, Aerobic Capacity is still king of the Energy Systems.
The better your aerobic capacity, the higher intensity outputs you can make in a game. But what’s often misunderstood by field coaches everywhere is that to have a higher output of those High Intensity drills (tackles, runs etc) and to become more "Gamefit", is not just about more of practising those High Intensity Outputs.
What is critical is your aerobic system and its efficiency at helping you recover from those bursts. The more efficient it is, the faster you recover. The faster you recover then logically the more outputs you can have in a game.
So maintaining this capacity, which we assume is reasonably decent at end of season from training and games, not only helps not make the return to the field in 2-3 months as difficult but will also actually enhance recovery between S&C Sessions.
Why Is Aerobic Capacity important?
Building Aerobic Capacity is somewhat time heavy, there is simply no getting away from this. If Aerobic Capacity is an issue, then it needs a bit more focus off-season. Much of your aerobic capacity will be built through playing the game. However, once you build a really good capacity, it won’t be to easy to lose it. You don't lose too much at all in first 21 days after end of season. The more you have built up in season, the harder it is to lose it.
So let’s see some examples of how you could load or maintain Aerobic Fitness:
***Generally not advised unless you have very good biomechanics, endurance and you like it. Plus, most people run too hard and end up over their threshold ending up doing lactate training. While some lactate training is absolutely needed for field sport, this is neither the best time nor best method to get there.
The LActate Training Issue
An example of the misuse of Lactate Training is no more obvious than in Gaelic Games. We all know teams that trained really hard and "had the shit run out of them". Very often these teams (often accompanied by poor warm ups) would start slow in games, fall behind only to then make remarkable comebacks and be flying at the last 15 minutes.
This very often justifies the methods to coaches. However, the rest of the game their body was confused. They were not warmed up and they had developed endurance in a not condusive way to a multi-directional, multi-sprint sport. They would take ages to recover from short bursts because they had an inefficient Aerobic system.
Eventually their body would crank up and they would reach a place they were familiar with - tiredness. However, they were well trained in this zone so would drive on. As well as the inefficiency of this approach, it is also a sure-fire way to get injured for a few players.
Another method to avoid to build "endurance" which has been popularized by former track athletes involved with Gaelic teams is running repeated 400 or 800M laps. These will build the glycolytic system largely, and again become heavily lactate if the correct rest is not given. Let’s say 400M takes 60 secs. To repeat that any sooner than 4 mins later will make it more and more lactate and even less Glycolytic and certainly very little aerobic.
The 3 Energy Systems
To explain briefly, 3 main systems used interchangeably by us in sport:
1.The ATP-PCr System 》Acceleration, flat out efforts less than 12-15 secs, lifting heavy weights
2. The Glycolytic System 》15-120 secs of continuous effort, 400M runs etc
3. The Aerobic System 》 Continuous effort over 2 mins, recovery system
No.'s 1&3 are the most important in sport. Yet have been grossly under-trained or misunderstood. You want to accelerate fast, put in high intensity bursts and you want to recover quick and do as many as possible in a game. This is why it’s important to focus on your Aerobic Capacity. Without a decent level of #3 you won’t be able to recover quickly enough during a game.
Have you got any questions on the above or interested to find out more about my S&C services? Feel free to get in touch!
Stay tuned for next week’s post, we’ll be talking about building muscle mass.