Practical examples of the implementation of high-intensity aerobic energy system conditioning methods for field sports
Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning
School of Medical and Health Sciences
A high level of aerobic fitness and the ability to repeat high-intensity aerobic efforts are key physical qualities that are thought to underpin success in many field sports. Accordingly, methods to improve both these qualities are of interest to strength & conditioning coaches training field sport athletes. This article details a number of methods to develop these qualities and describes their practical implementation and integration into the Preparation training for field sport athletes. While Small-sided games (SSG) may be popular, especially with elite field sport athletes, the extent of the overload provided with SSG is less quantifiable without GPS technology. It is proposed that training using high intensity methods based upon each athlete’s individual Maximum Aerobic Speed (MAS) score should form the fundamental basis of training to improve these qualities, especially in the Preparation period. Specifically Long Intervals (LI, 60-s to 180+-s at 90% to 100% MAS) and Maximal grids (alternating 15-s at 100% MAS with 15-s at 70% MAS) train the ability to sustain high intensity efforts for a longer time limit. Progression to the Supramaximal methods such as Eurofit and Tabata (at 120+% MAS for 15-s to 20-s with either a 1:1 or 2:1 work:rest ratio, respectively) then help to develop higher levels of MAS and the ability to repeat high intensity efforts. A coherent progression and integration of these methods into the General Preparation phase should precede the use of SSG as the primary conditioning tool. However, once in the Specific Preparation phase or In-season Period, any of the methods described above can be combined with SSG, skills and tactical training to maintain the energy system fitness and enhance the skill and tactical preparation of field sport athletes.