Improve Your Aerobic Fitness in the Off-Season

Use these three types of conditioning to promote aerobic benefits for all of your athletes.

There's more to conditioning than going for a run. While you want to build endurance, you want to do it in ways that most benefit your specific sport, so you can be efficient with your energy and movements while on the field.

Benefits of Aerobic Fitness

  • Improve blood pH balance, which can improve systemic trigger points.
  • Lower resting heart rate, which will improve exertion for activities of daily living.
  • Boost capacity and output for energy stores to take from the aerobic energy stores within your body, which will improve energy production for daily activity and training.
  • Improve specific cardiovascular function.
Improving Your Aerobic Base

Improving your aerobic base will reduce anaerobic energy contribution to a majority of tasks, which will improve your ability to recover from day-to-day strength training sessions and improve the quality of specific-sport training sessions.

Further, there are clear benefits to having a lower resting heart rate during activities. A higher heart rate is an indicator of physiological intensity. If your heart rate stays near a specific number (say 160-plus) for two minutes or longer, it indicates how much your energy stores (think ATP and PCr stores) are taking from the initial energy stores of your anaerobic and alactic energy systems.

Prior to improving your aerobic fitness, try to determine whether your fitness levels are up to par. It is also helpful if you can identify what your specific task requires. If you can determine whether you need aerobic energy stores for soccer or lacrosse, for example, versus an anaerobic sport such as powerlifting (although an argument can be made for developing an aerobic base for that, as well), then improving your aerobic energy utilization has a stronger justification.

READ MORE: Why You Need an Aerobic Base

How to Determine Your Aerobic Fitness Level

1. Resting Heart Rate

Take your resting heart rate just by lying down or sitting down—but use the same position for each measurement.

If it is above 60 beats per minute after a few minutes of quiet rest, perhaps it is time to improve your aerobic fitness level.

2. Modified Cooper's Test - 6 minute run/distance test

Perform any bout of movement and measure how far you go and track your heart rate.

3. Heart Rate Recovery

Perform any bout of movement and measure how fast your heart rate drops below 130 bpm.

Joel Jamieson, author of Ultimate MMA Training, subcategorizes information in a very easy-to-digest manner for improving aerobic fitness. With respect to improving the testing parameters, there are also several benefits to be gained from using aerobically minded protocols. Check out the video player above to learn from strength and conditioning coach Mike Boyle how to improve your heart rate before, during, and after exercising by enhancing your breathing technique.

Aerobic Energy System Development

Cardiac Output

When using CO, do 1 to 3 training sessions per week at 30 to 90 minutes per session. Maintain a heart rate of 130-150 bpm.

Cardiac output can involve traditional "steady state" aerobic work, but the idea is to use these improvements in physiological qualities and carry over to the next phase of energy system development.

High Intensity Continuous Training

When using HICT, do 10-20 minutes of continuous training, with a heart rate below your anaerobic threshold.

Tempo Intervals

When using Tis, do 8-10 intervals, with 60 seconds of rest between bouts.

RELATED: Heart Rate Training: Everything You Need To Know

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