An Aerobic Paradox

By Lon Kilgore

In ExPhysiology, Reference

December 01, 2006

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Have you ever thought about what it is exactly that drives improvement in aerobic work capacity? If you are like most people you probably haven’t really felt compelled to ponder this. Even though I am trained pretty extensively in cardiovascular physiology and training theory, I am an anaerobe and a musclehead. What makes muscle work, become stronger, bigger, or more powerful is my interest.

That means that I hadn't, until recently, considered the question either. In fact, if I had been asked that question two years ago, I probably would have pulled an answer out of some old aerobic dogma buried in my brain somewhere, obtained from reading texts and research journals or from sitting in a lecture hall somewhere. I accepted fairly unquestioningly (albeit with a few exceptions in programming issues) the conventional wisdom of aerobic training physiology. I was a happy camper. I didn’t know I actually cared about a higher level of understanding pertaining to aerobic fitness.

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3 Comments on “An Aerobic Paradox”


wrote …


I keep going back and re-reading this article because it is so intriguing. It's time you stopped being an anaerobe and start being an aerobic scientist. Then you can complement your strength books with a "Practical Programming" book for aerobic development.

World renown marathoner Lorraine Moler (sic) just wrote an article for Running Times Magazine about Arthur Lydiard and his methods for developing middle/long distance runners (huge base of lSD running and some strength work, intervals or speed work, then sharpening work). In it, she poo poos Dr. Tabata's high intesity interval methods by stating that after 6 weeks of this type of training there are diminishing returns to its continuation.

What say you?



wrote …

These articles are awesome.


wrote …

I've read this article quite a few times, and it bothers me from a coaching, performance and scientific standpoint, but I am grateful for it goading me to respond.

There are many points which need to be debated. It is far too simple to express "Aerobic" fitness improvements only relative to VO2 max.

(As George Brooks and Co. put it in Exercise Physiology, if better Vo2max meant better performance, competitions could just be held in labs.)

Courtesy of (WFS)

Factors which affect maximal Aerobic performance can also include, NM efficiency (economy of motion) and Lactate threshold.

Read Arthur Lydiard's "Run to the Top" for a great explanation of why developing maximal Aerobic capacity helps ALL sporting events beyond a one minute time span.

or this (WFS)

A.L also mentions the need to BALANCE Aerobic and Anaerobic training for optimal performance. Which is not the same as being 80% fit 100% of the time (AKA Randomised CrossFit Programming - which is might I add, more than appropriate for those who want it)

He's talking about being 110% Competition Fit perhaps 25% of the training year.

Food for thought?

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