In recent years, the concept of whole body maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), which basically reflects the integrative capability of the lungs, heart and circulatory system to distribute oxygen (O2) to the tissues and eventually mitochondrial O2 utilization (Layec & Richardson 2012), has interested scholars and exercise physiologists for varied yet interrelated reasons (Moxnes & Hausken 2012).
We will write a custom Research Paper on Physiological Bases of Human Movement: A Discussion of the Training Programs used to Improve VO2max specifically for you
301 certified writers online
In the training of professional sporting teams, for example, trainers have realised that the ‘aerobic ceiling’ or VO2max concept is an important one since a high VO2 max is positively associated with high physical work capacity, or the capacity for athletes to generate a huge quantity of energy over a prolonged period of time (McGregor n.d.).
Owing to the fact that improvement of VO2max is training-specific (Asadi 2011), this paper discusses three of the most common types of training programs used to improve VO2max, namely interval training, plyometric training, and weight or resistance training,
Training Programs to Improve VO2max in a Professional Sporting Team
For optimal performance and productivity in different sports, professional athletes need to commence training based on the intensity and duration of energy use in their preferred sport (Bayati et al 2011), but with the underlying objective of optimising the amount of oxygen they can take in and use, otherwise referred to as VO2max (Moxnes & Hausken 2012).
In discussing the training programs used to improve VO2max, it is important to note that anaerobic training lasts for a brief duration (e.g., 60 seconds) and is intended to improve the athlete’s tolerance and remove lactic acid which is inversely associated with a reduction in muscle performance, while aerobic training lasts for a longer duration of time and is intended to improve the delivery of oxygen to the muscles by enhancing how well the heart pumps the blood, how well the muscles extract oxygen from the blood, and also how well glucose is converted into energy (Tjonna et al 2013).
Consequently, there is need for the exercise physiologist to balance both aerobic and anaerobic exercises when developing training programs intended to improve VO2max for individuals in a professional sporting team. The three training programs are discussed as follows.
Employed by exercise physiologists to enhance both aerobic and anaerobic fitness among athletes, interval training is generally defined as repetitions of high-speed/intensity work-outs immediately followed by periods of rest or low activity to allow elite athletes expanded periods of training time at their peak performance levels originating from the alternation between the two activities, but also from the use of different speeds and degrees of effort (Bayati et al 2011; Layec & Richardson 2012).
Interval training is a critical tool often used by exercise physiologists when it comes to training elite athletes for both short and longer events. For example, in short events, an athlete can do ten 70-meter sprints in eight to ten seconds and then use 60 seconds to recover from the high-intensity sprint; however, the physiologist must always ensure that the exercise intensity or optimal effort remains unchanged, and the recovery phase should be set at three times longer than the training phase.
Similarly, for longer events, an athlete training to run 10 km in 50 minutes could begin by running 1 km in 5 minutes and having a 5 minutes respite, before embarking on enhancing the speeds and time-frames through stressing the body to utilise as much oxygen as possible, hence inducing an adaptation that results in improved VO2max (McGregor n.d.).
Available literature demonstrates that “while athletes employ a variety of training strategies to increase VO2max, recent research suggests that a form of interval training known as high-intensity intermittent training leads to rapid improvements in VO2max and endurance performance” (Finn 2001, p. 1).
A high-intensity intermittent training program (for example, six to eight 5-min work bouts at 80 percent of peak power, separated by 60 seconds of recovery), according to this particular author, has the capacity to increase oxidative activity in muscle, leading to considerable gains not only in whole body maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) but also in running economy and athlete’s lactate threshold.
In using interval training to enhance VO2max among athletes in a professional sporting team, the exercise physiologist should always ensure that (1) intervals are performed at an effort between 90 percent and 105 percent of the athletes’ VO2max power, (2) intervals should last between 3 minutes and 12 minutes in duration, (3) total interval work time should be minimally 12 minutes and maximally 25 minutes, and (4) rest between interval should be generally equal to the work interval itself (McGregor n.d.; Finn 2001). Overall, substantial improvements in VO2max could be achieved by engaging in two interval sessions per week.
It is acknowledged in the literature that “plyometric training involves an eccentric contraction immediately followed by a concentric contraction to allow the muscle to store and recoil elastic energy” (Berryman et al 2012, p. 1818).
The rapid stretching of a muscle (eccentric action) immediately followed by a concentric or shortening action of the same muscle as well as the connective tissue, according to Asadi (2011), increases the athletes’ strength, explosiveness, leg power and muscular strength, and also enables them to use these capabilities as quickly and forcefully as possible.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Plyometric training is often used to develop fast muscle fibre so that the athlete gets more power by virtue of the fact that muscle fibres transfer energy more quickly and powerfully when eccentric and concentric contractions are done in a rhythmic manner (Asadi 2011). After plyometric training, elite athletes have been known to use less oxygen at faster speeds than they did prior to training as the impact forces are much higher.
Other scholars suggest that plyometric training improves the maximal oxygen uptake ability among elite athletes not because the heart or the blood vessels are capable of delivering more oxygen to the muscles; rather, improvements in muscle fibres after plyometric training ensure optimal utilisation of oxygen within the muscles, hence athletes are able to develop the capacity to run faster and more efficiently with the same amount of oxygen due to muscle explosiveness and elasticity (Chelly et al 2010; Bayati et al 2011).
Weight or Resistance Training
Extant literature demonstrates that appropriate weight or resistance training programs promote muscular adaptations of strength, size, speed, vertical jump, power and endurance by exercising muscle against a resistance (Fisher et al 2011), and are known to positively influence post-exercise oxygen consumption (Di Blasio et al 2012).
There are several types of resistance including ‘constant resistance (e.g., free weights such as dumbbell or barbell), variable resistance (e.g., pulleys), accommodating resistance (e.g., hydraulics), and pneumatic resistance’ (Fisher et al 2011).
Dynamic weight or resistance training improves the whole body maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) of athletes due to concentric contractions of the muscles, resulting in optimal power output or the capacity to generate a high amount of force over a short period of time (Berryman et al 2012).
Additionally, not only does weight or resistance training improves cardiovascular capacity, hence enhancing VO2max, but it causes the muscle cells to grow larger though sport scientists are yet to associate this growth with a corresponding increase in the number of mitochondria.
With increased volume and intensity of this type of training, cardiovascular improvements and growth of muscle cells positively impact the amount of oxygen that an athlete’s body can use essentially during training, leading to an overall improvement in VO2max (Fisher et al 2011; Di Blasio et al 2012). Weight or resistance training, according to Berryman et al (2012), should be implemented under strict supervision to avoid injury to the athlete.
In using weight or resistance training to improve VO2max, the exercise physiologist should understand that (1) available evidence does not support the superiority of one particular type of resistance for increasing muscle, strength, power or endurance, hence how an athlete trains is much more important than the equipment used, (2) choice of equipment should be dictated by personal preference, convenience and an athlete’s attitude to risk, (3) athletes should avoid exercise that endeavour to imitate the performance of a skill with added resistance as this may adversely affect the movement pattern of the skill resulting in minimal improvement in VO2max and less efficacious performance, and (4) the utilisation of resistance training for enhanced function and sporting performance through improvements in VO2max should always be based on muscular strength adaptations rather than neuromuscular patterns including balance, which demonstrates no transference (Fisher et al 2011).
Each of the discussed training programs has its own merits and demerits when it comes to improving the maximal oxygen uptake in athletes, hence training physiologists should exercise caution in deciding which program to use based on factors that are central to individual athletes.
However, it has been well demonstrated that by using these training programs, an exercise physiologist will have the capacity to develop an all inclusive training approach that not only targets adaptations to VO2max, but also improves overall performance for the athletes in diverse sporting events.
Asadi, A 2011, ‘The effects of a 6-week of plyometric training on electromyography changes and performance’, Sport Science, vol. 4 no. 2, pp. 38-42.
Bayati, M, Farzad, B, Gharakhanlou, R & Agha-Alinejad, H 2011, ‘A practical model of low-volume high-density interval training induces performance and metabolic adaptations that resemble ‘all-out’ sprint interval training’, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, vol. 10 no. 3, pp. 571-576.
Berryman, N, Maurel, D & Bosquet, L 2010, ‘Effect of plyometric vs. Dynamic weight training on the energy cost of running’, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 24 no. 7, pp. 1818-1825.
Chelly, MS, Ghenem, MA, Abid, K, Hermassi, S, Tabka, Z & Shepherd, RJ 2010, ‘Effects of in-season short-term plyometric training program on leg power, jump and sprint performance of soccer players’, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, vol. 24 no. 10, pp. 2670-2676.
Di Blasio, A, Gomello, E, Di Iorio, A, Di Giacinto, G, Celso, T, Di Renzo, D…Ripari, P 2012, ‘Order effects of concurrent endurance and resistance training on post-exercise response of non-trained women’, Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, vol. 11 no. 3, pp. 393-399.
Finn, C 2001, ‘Effects of high-intensity intermittent training on maximum oxygen uptake and endurance performance, Sportscience, vol. 5 no. 1, pp. 1-3.
Fisher, J, Steele, J, Bruce-Low, S & Smith, D 2011, ‘Evidence-based resistance training recommendations’, Sports Medicine, vol. 15 no. 3, pp. 147-162.
Layec, G & Richardson, RS 2012, ‘Training to improve performance: one leg at a time’, Acta Physiologica, vol. 205 no. 1, pp. 186-188.
McGregor, S n.d., Using intervals to target VO2max adaptations, Peaks Coaching Group, <http://www.peakscoachinggroup.com/>.
Moxnes, JF & Hausken, K 2012, ‘Comparing VO2max improvement in five training methods’, Advanced Studies in Theoretical Physics, vol. 6 no. 19, pp. 931-957.
Tjonna, AE, Leinan, IM, Bartnes, AT, Jenssen, BM, Gibala, MJ, Winett, RA & Wisloff, U 2013, ‘Low- and high-volumes of intensive endurance training significantly improves maximal oxygen uptake after 10-weeks of training in healthy men’, PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 1-7.