• Is Aerobic Fitness Beneficial to Interval Sports
    Learn which test measures can be used to evaluate an athlete's ability to sprint and withstand fatigue. From the NSCA's Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
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  • Aerobic FitnessSynopsis
    Sprinting performance is not limited to anaerobic activities where a single maximal effort is required. Aerobic team sports like soccer and rugby often rely heavily on players’ abilities to perform frequent, repeated sprints with little recovery between bouts. 

    Various assessments are often used by strength coaches to assess athletes’ resistance to fatigue when performing repeated sprints. A recent study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research investigated the relationship between aerobic fitness and resilience to repeated sprinting fatigue.

    The series of tests included:
    • Multi-stage 20-m shuttle run  
    • Maximal multi-stage running track test  
    • 40-m flying sprint test  
    • Maximal isometric strength  
    • Vertical jumping power  
    • Repeat Sprint Ability test (RSA) – 3 sets of 5 x 40-m sprints  
    The results of these tests indicated that those athletes with higher maximal aerobic speeds (greater than 17 km/hr or predicted VO2max of at least 60 mL/kg/min) were able to counteract fatigue for a longer period of time than those athletes with lower maximal aerobic speeds. 

    Where previous studies have shown that aerobic capacity was not beneficial to sports that required repeated sprinting bouts, this study has shown the opposite—that athletes with greater aerobic capacities may have an advantage in these sports.

    When developing testing sessions for athletes, the assessments should be as specific to the sport as possible (within reason i.e., standardization, reliability, etc.). Increasing specificity of testing sessions will provide coaches with information that more closely transfers to the actual competition. Including assessments and training programs like the RSA, where repeated maximal sprints are performed, may better prepare athletes for intermittent sprints in their sport and delay the effects of fatigue toward the end of the competition.
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    The National Strength and Conditioning Association is the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning. We support and disseminate research-based knowledge and its practical application to improve athletic performance and fitness.

  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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