Sports Coach New Logo

Cardiac Exercises & Aerobics

Cross country running – developing strength and endurance

The high aerobic demands of cross-country running mean that you will have to include lots of steady running to develop a sound aerobic base, improve cardiac output, assist capillarisation (the oxygen carrying capacity of tiny blood vessels in the cardiovascular system) and train the body to convert chemical energy in the form of stored glycogen in the muscles and liver into the mechanical energy which stimulates the efficient, rotational movement of the arms and legs around the shoulder and hip axes.

However, aerobic endurance is not just acquired by steady running. It can be developed by running long repetitions at 5K/10K pace with short recoveries. You’ll read why, if you run too fast during these aerobic intervals, you defeat the objective of the session by accumulating lactic acid and oxygen debt.

Oxygen debt and lactic acid reduce the contractile efficiency of the muscle groups responsible for motion and eventually result in the athlete slowing down and coming to a stop.

Another essential ingredient of your cross-country schedule is hill running. As well as benefiting the cardiovascular system, this develops leg strength and the muscular endurance necessary to keep going in races when clinging mud and steep inclines start to take their toll of energy reserves.

The hallmark of a world-class swimmer

Swimming demands meticulous preparation for competition. In no other sport is the level of preparation, tapering for the big day and rigid control of training intensities, quite the same.

One aspect that contributes to this is the uniformity of conditions. Let’s face it; you are all staring at a black line on the pool floor for length after length.

Planning the perfect peak, to coincide with the most important gala on the yearly calendar, is the hallmark of the world-class swimmer and coach.

There can be variety within the sport, however, depending quite simply on what stroke(s) are your best and you use in competition, as well as on what distance you travel on race day. This range of events means that a variety of forms of conditioning are needed to match the demands of the race event.

The key variables to play with are volume and intensity, while the influence of land work, especially strength training, will also sculpt your swimming fitness for a crescendo on the important race day.

Rowing – correcting misconceptions and errors

There used to be a strong belief in rowing that you had to be a big, powerful, anaerobic beast to do well. Most successful rowers are, indeed, of a bigger, muscular build. But such athletes, although they train extremely hard, often do not train according to the demands of their sport.

Given that the race distance is 2000m, which typically takes about 6 to 7 minutes to complete, it is more accurate to think of rowing as a power endurance sport rather than a strength sport.

Although strength is needed to generate large force and propel the boat at high speed, the more significant factor is the length of time taken to compete. It has been shown physiologically that at least 70% of the energy requirement comes from aerobic metabolism. The remainder comes from anaerobic sources.

What’s vital, therefore, is to condition the aerobic, or cardio respiratory system. Because however large and powerful a rower or crew, if they lack sufficient endurance they will never win!

Nowadays ergometers are available -- so the customary circuit session has less value. It is also fair to say that they may well replace running and cycling, two forms of cross-training that have remained popular from pre-ergometer days.