Thursday, August 28, 2014
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Goal-Oriented: Developing an aerobic base

The cardiac output method is a method that will improve the amount of blood that your heart can pump for each beat.

Goal-Oriented: Developing an aerobic base

The cardiac output method is a method that will improve the amount of blood that your heart can pump for each beat. (istockphoto)
The cardiac output method is a method that will improve the amount of blood that your heart can pump for each beat. (istockphoto)

A topic that has been debated over the years by both coaches and athletes is whether or not field and court athletes need to develop an aerobic base for their particular sport. When most people think of aerobic training, the first thing that comes to their mind is long slow distance (LSD) running. The majority of field and court athletes that I have worked with despise this type of training (unless you have a cross country runner that also happens to play field hockey.) 

For most coaches and athletes this means running 4-6 miles at a slow pace. They believe that if they train slow, they will be slow. On one hand I understand exactly what they mean. On the flip side, after reading Ultimate MMA Conditioning by Joel Jamieson I developed a deeper understating of energy system training and in particular cardiac output training.

You may be saying to yourself “I am a sprinter, why would I need to increase my cardiac output? All I need to do is sprint for 6-8 seconds, rest and then repeat it again 30-90 seconds later.” The reality is your cardiac system is the "power plant of aerobic energy production" (Ultimate MMA Conditioning-Jamieson). The cardiac output method is a method that will improve the amount of blood that your heart can pump for each beat. As a field or court athlete this is critical to your ability to perform repeat sprints as well as have the endurance to play an entire game.

A key component that I believe most athletes neglect is their ability to recover from a play or a sprint. In a perfect world I want a team full of athletes that can sprint, rest and repeat another sprint with the same intensity as the first sprint. By developing your aerobic system you will be able to perform more repeat sprints during a match or game.

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In order to use the cardiac method you need to follow some guidelines in order to reap the benefits.  Here is a list of what you need to follow in order to ensure that you’re training the right energy system.

  • Maintain a constant heart rate in the 120-150 bpm (beats per minute) range.
  • Each session should last 30-90 minutes.
  • Start with 30 minutes and increase the volume each week.
  • Start with two (2) sessions per week and increase to as many as three (3) sessions per week in the off-season.
  • This type of training should be done in the off-season to help develop a solid foundation to build upon.
  • If your resting heart rate is above 60 bpm, you will benefit from 4-6 weeks of this type of training. You goal should be to have a resting heart rate of 55 or lower. If your resting heart rate is under 50 bpm, you can limit this type of training to 1-2x per week in the off-season and progress to more advanced styles of training.
  • I would highly recommend that you pick up a good heart rate monitor to use. You can purchase a good one for under $125 from a company like Polar (www.polarusa.com)

Note: These guidelines are from the book Ultimate MMA Conditioning (Joel Jamieson)

When most athletes hear about this type of training, they instantly think they will be asked to run miles upon miles. While I personally like to run and I believe every field and court athlete should incorporate some type of longer running in the off-season, there may be some alternatives for athletes. The first type of training that comes to mind for me is circuit training.

The reality is a soccer player needs to train differently than a football player. If their goal is to develop their cardiac output in the off-season, they could follow a similar plan for 2-3 days per week to develop an aerobic base. The great news for athletes about this style of training is that there is no need to log 45-90 minutes of LSD running. Instead you can set up circuits either in the weight room, outside on the track/field or at a park. You’re only limited by your imagination as long as the guidelines above are followed. Below I have put together a series of videos that can help you get a better understanding of some of the exercises that you can implement into your training program.

Video exercise clips:

Watch: Cardiac output intro

Watch: Cardiac output ladders/med ball

Watch: Cardiac output thunder bands

WatchCardiac output ropes/bench/squats

Watch: Cardiac output bench jumps/swings

Watch: Cardiac output post workout

I personally think this style of training works best in conjunction with 2-3 days of strength training. Remember you are laying the foundation for future more advanced training methods. Without a solid foundation you are setting yourself up for potential injury and disappointment. When it comes to this type of training I personally like to use the following types of equipment.

  • Sleds
  • Ropes
  • Bands
  • Body weight
  • Jump rope
  • Medicine balls
  • Kettlebells
  • Jungle gyms at a park

For additional information on cardiac output training I would recommend that you visit www.8weeksout.com

Good luck in your training.


Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.

Kevin Miller Fitness Coach, Philadelphia Union
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