Aerobic Endurance Performance Factors
Maximal Aerobic Power
Also known as VO2 Max, there is a strong correlation between an endurance athlete and their VO2 Max level. In basic terms, an individual who has high VO2 Max level can continue to meet the majority of their energy demands through aerobic metabolism. In other words, as the energy demands increase with time throughout an aerobic endurance event, a high VO2 can relate to increased performance for longer periods of time.
Athletes with a high VO2 Max generally have high endurance performance, although there are other factors that can be just as, if not more important such as a high lactate threshold, good exercise economy, and a high ability to use fat as a fuel source.
As the body pushes into higher heart rate zones, and therefore transfers from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism, the body must clear away lactate from its muscles. The body eventually reaches a point in which it cannot clear lactate away as fast or faster than it is being produced. This is when you get that burning sensation in your muscles and extreme fatigue which is known as the lactate threshold. Aerobic endurance athletes with similar VO2 Maxes can have differences in performance based on their lactate thresholds.
Lactate thresholds can be trained and therefore improved which can improve aerobic endurance athlete performance. Aerobic athletes should therefore train various energy systems of their bodies in order to increase overall performance.
Exercise economy can be defined as the amount of energy expended by an individual performing a specific task or action. Certain factors such as technique or body composition can effect exercise economy. A good example of how technique effects exercise economy would be high-level distance runners tend to have shorter strides with faster stride frequency compared to more amateur runners. An example of body composition factors would be high-level cyclists. Those that are lighter in weight and have low body fat percentages can maximize their muscular efficiency versus those that are carrying extra weight on their bikes and can therefore decrease performance.