How To Improve Your Aerobic System Conditioning

The aerobic system is anything lasting longer than 3 min.  The aerobic system is oxidative meaning that you need oxygen to perform.  The alactic and lactic are both anaerobic and require no oxygen to perform.  The aerobic system is beneficial for improving increased blood flow and oxygen delivery.  


Throughout this article, I will use the sport of rugby as an example.  You can easily apply the principles and strategies here to any sport.  


Rugby is an 80-minute match, making the aerobic system vital to train if you want to have the energy to last the whole match.  Training in the aerobic is also good for recovery. Whereas in the anaerobic system the intensity is very high in the aerobic system your intensity is low.


Running long distances will teach you how to breathe and how to pace yourself.  One of my coaches would always say “start fast, end fast”. This is a rule you can apply to pretty much anything in life.  You need to learn how to pace yourself to last the entire match. If you are fatigued and are not performing at your optimum level late in the match what good are you to your team?  


Any rugby player should be able to run 80 min straight if they had to.  Do I ever train any of my athletes to run that far? The answer is no.  You never need to run that far when training for rugby, but if I programmed an 80 min run in I know they would be able to do it.  The farthest you need to run in my opinion is 40 min just one half of rugby.


When training the aerobic system it is best to do it on an off day due to the length of the training.  Usually one day a week is plenty as well. For rugby interval training (anaerobic system) is going to be your bread and butter, but if you want to be more of a well-rounded athlete and have plenty of gas for each phase then you need to train the aerobic system as well.


Think of cyclic movements when training for the aerobic system.  These are the movements that you perform while breathing at the same time.  Such as running, biking, rowing, and swimming. Any of these methods are great for training the aerobic system.  Even though you run in rugby you do not need to run all the time to improve your aerobic system unless you are training for a marathon.  Plus for athletes with bad knees or you large fellas, running is not the best option for you. That is why the bike, rower, and swimming are all great alternatives.  

Swimming is a great alternative for aerobic work.  It’s easy on the joints and great for recovery.


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