Physiology and Components of Endurance Performance

The physiology of endurance performance section provides detailed information on the key components of endurance exercise performance including the VO2max, the lactate threshold, the sustainable % VO2max, the velocity at VO2max, and exercise economy/economy of motion

What is endurance?

An endurance sport is any sport where there is a requirement to sustain an activity level whilst enduring a level of physical stress. A number of physiological factors affect success in endurance sports including the efficiency of energy systems, aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, muscle strength, power and muscular endurance.

The Lactate Threshold

The Lactate Threshold (anaerobic threshold or maximum lactate steady state) describes an exercise intensity where blood lactate levels begins to rise above above baseline levels. It has been shown to be a very good predictor of endurance exercise performance and is considered to be a key training intensity for endurance events.

The VO2max and Endurance

The VO2max or maximal oxygen uptake is a key measure of aerobic fitness. A high VO2max indicate greater aerobic fitness and can explain differences in performance between individuals. A high VO2max is important for success in endurance sports like cycling, running, cross country skiing, triathlon, and duathlons.

Velocity at VO2max

The Velocity at VO2max (vVO2max) is the minimum velocity where the maximal oxygen uptake occurs. It’s strongly linked to success in a range of endurance running events and is often used as key training intensity. Importantly, we can improve the velocity at VO2max through specific training.

Exercise Economy / Exercise Efficiency

Exercise economy refers to the volume of oxygen ( required to move at a given speed, or generate a certain power output, or work rate. It is a powerful predictor of endurance exercise performance in sports including cycling, swimming, running, and cross country skiing. 

Sustainable Percent VO2 Max

The Sustainable percent VO2 max (or fractional utilisation) refers to the percentage of VO2max that can be sustained during a prolonged activity. It’s a a key factor in endurance events lasting longer than 30minutes, becoming increasingly important as race duration increases.

The Components of Fitness

What is Physical Fitness? At the most basic level, physical fitness refers to the ability of your body to perform physical activity. It’s affected by a number of key components of fitness that all have an effect on our ability to complete every day tasks as well as sports performance.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance refers to the ability of a muscle, or groups of muscles, to repeatedly exert a force for an extended period of time. An athlete with greater muscular endurance will be able to complete more work, or exercise at a higher intensity, for a longer period of time.

The Different Types of Strength

At the most basic level, muscular strength can be defined as the ability of a muscle, or group of muscles to exert a force, or overcome resistance. Here we can classify strength into several different types including maximum, explosive, and strength endurance.

Neuromuscular Coordination

Neuromuscular coordination refers to the ability to effectively control the application of force on an intra and inter-muscular level. It’s important for all sports whether they’re strength, power or endurance based sports.

Types of Muscle Contractions

We can define a muscle contraction by the change in muscle length. This occurs following the activation of individual motor units, causing a contractile force within the muscle.

Fitness Testing

Fitness testing is an essential part of any training program, providing valuable information for assessing and monitoring the physiological and performance measures related to health, fitness and sports performance.

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