Aerobic training ultimately engages and develops the aerobic systems capability/capacity of supplying energy to enable an athlete to perform at their optimum. Whether this training is continuous, fartlek or long interval, it is to be sustained at moderate intensity to meet the overload principle. The major aim of participating in aerobic training is to make improvements in cardiovascular strength and efficiency, physically resulting in an improved ability to pump blood to the much-needed working muscles. With regular aerobic training, AFL players performance will continue to improve, leading them to their optimum. !
Continuous training requires the athletes to work for longer than what is required for competition and at a consistent intensity of approximately 70% of the athletes maximum heart rate. An average AFL game goes for a duration of 80 minutes, over 4 equal quarters with an approximate field area of 22km2. This therefore means that one player can run on average anywhere between 12-20km, per game. With this being the case, if an elite AFL players wants to improve their performance in this given sport they must incorporate a minimum of 80 minutes of continuous running on either a set course or on a treadmill. If an AFL player were to train for less than the required time for a game, their aerobic system would not cope in game situations. This will therefore will inhibit performance when it comes to game time. Continuous training places stress on the aerobic system, which improves cardiorespiratory efficiency, particularly the stroke volume of the athlete’s heart. This therefore means that by completing various types of continuous training activities more blood will be available per stroke resulting in more blood being dispersed to the athletes muscle cells and tissues. This physiological adaptation increases the athletes’ performance over the 80 minutes duration, as more oxygen rich blood is being delivered to depriving working muscles. If the athlete can not sustain/achieve this level of aerobic fitness they will fatigue quickly, be slow in their pace, be out run by opponents and may make errors when in possession of the ball, due to fatigue. This will ultimately affect their ability to contribute to their team.
By training under the continuous training method AFL players not only improve cardiovascular fitness but also cardiovascular endurance. This allows them to stay on the field longer with less interchanges, ultimately resulting in better team cohesion.
Continuous training is heavily utilised in the early phases of pre-season training as it aims to develop basic aerobic conditioning before higher intensity running is engaged later on.
Fartlek training is another form of continuous training that involves the athlete putting in sections of higher intensities with combinations of lower intensities, which serve as rest periods. AFL training has moved its focus to this kind of aerobic training, as it mimics game like situations of sprinting, jogging and back to sprinting. Fartlek training is more beneficial for
AFL athletes, as it relates more closely to game like situations than that of continuous training. Athletes do not run solidly for the full 80 minutes, they stop, sprint, jog and walk backwards, which imitates what would likely occur in a game - (Relate to why this would be better compared with continuous). This type of training places stress on the aerobic system, as the athlete alters between different speeds and intensities. An examples of how fartlek training can be intertwine into a AFL training plan with the aim of improving performance could include running hard at a 3/4 pace for 90 seconds, jogging for 60 seconds, sprinting for 15 seconds, jogging for 45 seconds, running backwards for 30 seconds and finishing with running hard for 60 seconds. This pattern can then be repeated 3-4