You may have heard the term ‘maximum aerobic speed’ floating around in the gym, but what does it mean and how can you use it to benefit performance?
What is Maximum Aerobic Speed?
Maximum aerobic speed (MAS) relates to aerobic performance (VO2max) and forms part of the process for developing aerobic capacity. It is expressed as metres per second (m/sec).
What You Need to Know About Your Maximum Aerobic Speed
To improve VO2max the training session should accumulate as much time at, or as close to, VO2max as possible. This is often difficult to achieve with continuous exercise such as running, cycling, rowing, or swimming, as it is difficult to maintain an intensity sufficient to stress the cardiovascular system for prolonged periods.
Interval training for the aerobic system can potentially overcome this problem, as it facilitates sufficient stress at the VO2max level while allowing adequate recovery for repeated efforts, therefore resulting in more time at VO2max. In other words. Go hard, rest, go hard again.
How Can You Calculate Your Maximum Aerobic Speed?
Perform a thorough warm-up for at least 20 minutes, then time yourself running 1.5-2km. This is best done on a 400m track, but can also be done on a flat road stretch provided you can accurately measure and mark 1.5-2km (any number of fitness wearables or training apps can do this).
Ensure that you run at a perceived rate of 100% of maximal effort to ensure accuracy for testing and programming.
Obtain your time and calculate how many seconds you ran for and divide it by the length of the run to work out your MAS (m/sec), e.g. 4min 55sec = 295sec then 1500m/295secs = 5.08m/sec.
Use of Maximum Aerobic Speed
By understanding your maximum aerobic speed you can now design programs based around this figure to enhance cardiovascular performance. For example, below is a table for an athlete who has a MAS of 5.08m/sec.
|Intensity (% of MAS)||Distance|
From here you can develop interval training sessions at 100% or higher of your MAS to elicit a VO2max response.
Any aerobic interval work-to-rest ratio should remain as 1:1, up to 1:1.5.
An example session may look like this:
Total work time for this program is 7 min 30 secs, with the same as active recovery, completing a total of 2,510m at or above 100% of MAS.
Maximum aerobic speed can be a great way to train clients who want to improve VO2max but may dislike continuous exercise, or who are not currently physically able to perform continuous exercise.
The scenario we explored above is one way that maximum aerobic speed can be used for training clients. Use your imagination and remember to continually program for the needs of your client and follow a periodised program to ensure they minimise their risk of injury.
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