Endurance fitness is the ability to sustain the necessary activity level for a specific competitive sport. It includes both cardiovascular and muscular endurance required for the sport.
Events or sports more than 2-3 minutes transition from quick energy (muscle glycogen) sources to an oxygen-based (aerobic) energy source. A moderately high to high VO2 max is is a critical component for success in aerobic events, as well as local muscular endurance.
Marathon running demands a high level of constant, sustained activity, in contrast to weight lifting. Most sports use a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, or strength-speed-endurance. Coaches must consider energy requirements, muscle groups, continuity, and intensity of activity, as well as skill requirements, when designing training programs for their sports.
1. Test Athletes. The 1.5 mile run is used to assess aerobic fitness. Norms indicate athletes' fitness category (Cooper, 1982). Resting heart rate is also used as an indicator of fitness.
2. Training Intensity. Maximum heart rate can be used to calculate the training target heart rate for athletes by using the Karvonen formula. Percentages of maximums determine the desired training target heart rate zone for athletes of different ages.
3. Types of Exercise. Playing the sport is the most
specific way to train. However, in order to improve aerobic fitness, athletes must
overload by increasing the intensity of workouts in ways that match the demands of the sport. Training activities to build endurance fitness may include slow, sustained distance training, increased tempo training, interval work, circuit training, Fartlek training, and sprinting.
4. Intermittent vs. Continuous. Long, slow distance running, for example, does not adequately prepare a basketball player for the energy demands of the sport. Coaches should consider intermittent, intense training activities as well as continuous activities, that match the demands of the sport.
5. Duration. One method for designing training programs is to consider duration of activities. Allocate corresponding proportions of training time and intensity to competitive demands.
6. Annual Training Plan. Training intensity and frequency vary throughout the year. During the off-season, train 5-6 times per week at 70% max HR; during pre-season, train at 6-7 times per week at 85-95% of max HR; during early season train 5-6 times per week at 95-100% max HR; and during peak season train at 70-100% max HR. Both competition and practice sessions are considered as training.
7. Body Fat Percentage. Body composition is of particular importance for athletic endurance. As a general guideline, females and males over 15 should maintain a body fat percentage of about 11-13% and 5-7%, respectively.
Definition of Fitness
Physical Demands of Sports
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National Strength and Conditioning Association. (2006). Essentials of strength training and conditioning (3rd edd.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.