Aerobic Base

  • Creator
  • #51773

    Hi everyone,

    I’m not sure if there is an answer to this question, but here goes:

    To develop an aerobic base (and eliminate aerobic deficiency syndrome) is it BEST, on average, to train solely below one’s AeT (ie the MAF method), or alternatively, to train mostly (80-90%) below ones AeT but incorporate supra-AeT ‘pick-ups’ during most all work-outs FROM THE VERY START?

    Examples of these supra-AeT ‘pick-ups’ during mostly AeT work-outs would include, eg, terminal progression on long runs, ending with a hill on a long runs, fartleks, hill sprints, and maintaining pace on steeps when hiking or trail running.

    The rationale for including these ‘pick-ups’ is not just for athleticism, neuromuscular training, and injury prevention per se, but because they may actually develop ones aerobic system more efficiently from the get go than pure MAF–and in fact may be REQUIRED if one’s goal is increase one’s AeT on terrain other than flats.

    Any comments appreciated,


  • Participant
    LindsayTroy on #51790

    Are you asking about whats theoretically best or whats best with a specific climb/run/ski planned on XX date?

    In the absence of a time limit, its BEST to first train solely below your AeT, if you have ADS, then its best to train mostly in Z2 (since in theory that is slow enough that when you finish you feel like you could keep going).

    If you have an event in XX days, you need to balance the time constraint and therefore may need to do some training above AeT. But whats BEST is to fix ADS first then work on speed.

    Reed on #51800

    It is great to prioritize some amount of strength development in parallel with aerobic development. That could be anything from bodyweight exercises to deadlifts to hill sprints. Find the low-hanging fruit, the weak link in the chain. Consistency and a >90% focus on below aerobic threshold training are good things to focus on.

    russes011 on #51804

    I’m speaking theoretically. I understand that UA has developed its own variation of the MAF method with its aerobic deficiency syndrome training paradigm. I respect both of these methods, especially the latter and practice it in my training. There are, however, reasonable criticisms of the MAF method by many experienced coaches. One that I have yet to rectify in my own mind, is whether strict training only below AeT (ie the MAF method), versus say 80-90% below AeT with the rest being low zone 3, as described above (easy-moderate progressions, fartleks, hills, etc. [not strength training per se]). Said in another way, why is always being below AeT better than occasionally, but routinely, being mildly to moderately above AeT for 10-20% of the time (ie low enough to preclude overtraining) when it comes to raising one’s AeT and eliminating ADS. I say the following tongue-in-cheek, but folks may develop ‘anaerobic deficiency syndrome’ by strictly training below AeT during one’s base, which may be fine for flat-land ultra runners using the MAF method, but perhaps not so much for uphill athletes.

    LindsayTroy on #51815

    Steve- As far as I understand it, the target audience of TFNA/TFUA is ultra-endurance sports. For the sports that are targeted in this training methodology, you are performing for many hours to many days and thus we need to rely on the aerobic system as the anaerobic system isn’t capable of performing for that long. Sometimes, yes, we do need to pick up the pace for short bursts, but ultimately the goal is to be able to do as much of our sport as possible below your aerobic threshold such that you can continue for hours or days on end without bonking. For some sports it may be a requirement to be a more anaerobically trained athlete, but for the sports/events targeted here, those systems are not as important.

    Also, it isn’t always better to be below AeT, indeed, its recommended that individuals who have built sufficiently strong aerobic base (measured here through AeT + AnT being within 10%) are recommended to do some of their training in Z3+. And, when individuals have an event that is impending, even when AeT + AnT differ by more than 10%, it is recommended to do Z3+ work. But the idea is that you can build more and get more out of the Z3+ with a stronger aerobic base.

    As far as I understand it, one of the reasons people have ADS is because they have done too much Z3 volume and this process is aimed to balance that out.

    russes011 on #51817

    Thanks for the response. Makes sense. Will continue to read about this subject.

    Scott Semple on #53511

    What Lindsay and Reed said.

    The other thing that I’ll add is that the MAF formula does not target aerobic threshold specifically. But it’s such a conservative formula that, for most people, the MAF ceiling will be below AeT. For someone with an undeveloped aerobic system, how much MAF is below AeT is less important than putting in a lot of volume below AeT.

    “Spicing” base volume with sprints and surges may improve aerobic development. (CHeck out Olbrecht’s The Science of Winning. HOWEVER, if you say that to the average person, they hear, “Oh, yeah, go for it with the intensity” and end up (pardon my French) @#$%ing up their development.

    Like Lindsay said:

    …one of the reasons people have ADS is because they have done too much Z3 volume and this process is aimed to balance that out.

    When in doubt, remember Feynman:

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.”

    russes011 on #53592

    Thank you for the response Scott, what you say concurs with Lindsay and Reed and makes sense to me. I’ll also check out that book–thanks for the recommendation.

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