Training at Maximum Aerobic Speed

Jun 26, 2014 | by AIF

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 and 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 problematic with continuous exercise such as running, cycling, rowing, or swimming as it is difficult to maintain intensity sufficient enough to stress the cardiovascular system for prolonged periods.

Interval training for the aerobic system can potentially overcome this problem as it allows sufficient stress at the VO2max level while allowing adequate recovery for repeated efforts therefore resulting in more time at VO2max.

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 (a bicycle computer could be used).

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.

Time

10 sec

15 sec

20 sec

25 sec

30 sec

Intensity (% of MAS) Distance
140%

71

107

142

178

213

130%

66

99

132

165

198

120%

61

91

122

152

183

110%

56

84

112

140

168

100%

51

76

102

127

152

90%

46

69

91

114

137

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:

  • 5 x 15 sec at 100% MAS (76m) with 15 sec active recovery
  • 5 x 15 sec at 110% MAS (84m) with 15 sec active recovery
  • 10 x 15 sec at 120% MAS (91m) with 15 sec active recovery
  • 5 x 15 sec at 110% MAS (84m) with 15 sec active recovery
  • 5 x 15 sec at 100% MAS (76m) with 15 sec active recovery

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.

Conclusion

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 built for continuous exercise, such as those who are overweight.

The above example is one way 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 you don’t injury your clients.

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AIF

AIF

At the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF), we are no stranger to the competitive and evolving nature of the fitness industry. That’s why we remain the #1 fitness educator since 1979. We continuously raise the bar by providing the best education and resources through dynamic and hybrid training methods that mould to your lifestyle. We are strong believers in evidence over fads, so you can be assured your training with AIF will solidify your career for the long-term.

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