Start Building Aerobic Capacity for Your Sport

TAGS: medicine ball slams, repetitive box jumps, 180-degree jumps, sand dune jumps, banded lateral jumps, Banded 45-Degree Jumps, Banded Broad Jumps, Repetitive Vertical Jumps, jump circuits, NFL combine program, outside submission, energy systems, programming, jumps, strength and conditioning, football, Sports Training, sports, athlete

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When it comes to conditioning, a lot of collegiate and professional programs around the country are still in the Stone Age. Science has proven time and time again that running endless 100-yard sprints for a football player isn’t the best option. In fact, it shouldn’t even be thought of as an option. This article will explain why it is important to understand the breakdown of the energy systems and how they affect training.

  • Type I = Oxidative = Lasts longer than two minutes: These fibers are often thought of as “slow-twitch” fibers and require a great amount of oxidative metabolism. These fibers are relied on the most during endurance-type activities.
  • Type IIa = Glycolysis = Lasts 11 to 60 seconds (in some cases up to two minutes for slow glycolysis): These fibers are often considered “fast-twitch” fibers and are used for repetitive bouts or power capacity work. These are typically used the most during team sports.
  • Type IIb/Type IIx = ATP-PC = Lasts 0 to 10 seconds: These fibers are also considered fast-twitch fibers, but they require more recovery time between bouts to restore their energy.

With this information, we can now dictate which is required for the sport at hand and program out the conditioning. Training for sports should mainly be structured around the bioenergetic demands required of the athlete. This pertains to conditioning, speed, agility, and strength training.


RELATED: The Specific Demands and Application of Conditioning for Sports


However, that is not to say that the opposite end of the spectrum is not useful to the athlete. For example, early in the off-season, we put a slight emphasis on building the athletes’ aerobic base and progress building that base as we get closer to OTAs and then again to training camp. Even though football is not an aerobic dominant sport, these athletes benefit from the training because it increases their ability to oxygenate the muscles faster and shorten recovery times.

With our team sports athletes, I see better progress in aerobic capacity when it is built around strength capacity or jump capacity circuits. Doing these allows us to train the oxidative system while also increasing the capacity of the non-contracting tissues (tendons and ligaments) and the capacity of the muscle tissue being trained.

The following are two ways we incorporated these strength and jump circuits into our training program for this year’s NFL Combine Program.

We performed the following exercises for four rounds the first week and six rounds the following week.

We performed the following exercises for six rounds the first week and eight rounds the following week.

  • Repetitive Vertical Jumps
  • Banded Broad Jumps
  • Banded 45-Degree Jumps
  • Banded Lateral Jumps

Header image credit: urmakin Andrey © 123rf.com


CJ is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for Onnit in Austin, Texas. He's had the opportunity to train athletes in the NFL, CFL, WWE, and many other professional and DI athletes. He has contributed multiple articles to T-Nation, Bodybuilding.com, and Men's Journal.

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