CSCS Chapter 6: Adaptations to Aerobic Endurance Training Programs
CSCS Study Guide Chapter 6

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Chapter Goals

  • Discuss the acute responses of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems regarding aerobic exercise.
  • Learn the impacts that long term aerobic endurance training has on respiratory, nervous, bone, cardiovascular, muscular, and endocrine systems.
  • See the interactions resulting from the design of aerobic endurance training and optimization of the body systems’ physiological responses.
  • Point out the external factors influencing adaptations in acute and chronic exercise, like sex, altitude, blood doping, and detraining.
  • Determine the causes, symptoms, signs, and effects of overtraining.

Acute Responses to Aerobic Exercise

Cardiovascular Responses

Cardiac Output

The Cardiac output increases rapidly initially, and then gradually and eventually, it will reach a plateau.

During exercise at maximal intensity, the cardia output maybe 4 times the level it is at rest.

Cardiac Output = Stroke Volume X Heart Rate

Stroke Volume

This is the amount of blood that is let out with each heartbeat.

The end-diastolic volume increases significantly.

The sympathetic stimulation increases stroke volume at the onset of exercise.

Heart Rate

The rate increases in a linear fashion with intensity.

Oxygen Uptake

Increases occur during acute bouts of aerobic exercise. It is related to metabolic efficiency, the mass of exercising muscle, and the intensity of exercise.

Max Oxygen Uptake is the largest amount f oxygen that can be used at the cellular level for the whole body.

The Resting Oxygen Uptake is an estimated 3.5 ml of oxygen per kg of body weight per minute. This is often described as 1 MET or Metabolic Equivalent. 

Blood Pressure

The systolic blood pressure is the estimated pressure that is put on the arterial walls as the blood is forcefully ejected during ventricular contractions.

Diastolic blood is the pressure on the arterial walls when no blood is forcefully ejected.

Control of Local

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The blood flow to active muscles is increased greatly due to the dilation of local arterioles. This all happens during aerobic exercise.

Blood flow directed to the other organs is reduced by constriction of the arterioles.

Acute aerobic exercise has the result of increasing all of these factors except for diastolic blood pressure, which decreases.

Respiratory Responses

Aerobic exercise has the greatest impact on oxygen and carbon dioxide production.

When exercising aerobically, large amounts of oxygen are diffused from the capillaries into the tissues, increased levels of carbon dioxide movement from the blood to the alveoli, and increases in ventilation to maintain the appropriate alveolar concentrations of gases.

Gas Responses

During the aerobic exercise of the High Intensity variety, pressure gradients of O2 and CO2 cause gas movement from cell membranes to other cell membranes.

Diffusing capacities of O2 and CO2 increase greatly during exercise.

Blood Transport of Gases and Metabolic by-Products

Hemoglobin carries most of the Oxygen in blood.

Carbon dioxide is removed when it combines with water and is delivered to the lungs as bicarbonate.

When we exercise at a low or moderate pace, there is enough oxygen for lactic acid to not accumulate due to the removal rate being more than the production rate.

The Onset of Blood Lactate is the exercise level where lactic acid shows.

Chronic Adaptations to Aerobic Exercise

Physiological Adaptions to Aerobic Endurance Training

Performance

There is no change in muscle strength.

There is an increase in low power output for muscular endurance.

There is no change or even a potential decrease in the max rate of force production.

The vertical jumping ability remains unchanged.

There is no change in anaerobic power.

There is no change or maybe even a slight increase in spring speed.

Muscle Fibers

There is no change or potentially a small increase in fiber size.

There is an increase in capillary density.

There is an increase in mitochondrial density.

Metabolic Energy Stores

There is an increase in ATP, Creatine Phosphate, Glycogen, and Triglycerides.

Connective Tissue

There is an increase in ligament strength and tendon strength.

There is no change or potential for a slight increase in bone density.

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Body Composition

Percent body fat decreases.

There is no change in fat free mass percentage.

Cardiovascular Adaptations

Aerobic endurance training requires people to have the proper progressions, variations, specificities and overloads to have physiological adaptations.

Respiratory Adaptations

Ventilatory adaptations are highly specific to activities involving the type of exercise used when training.

Tidal volume and breathing frequency increase with training in maximal exercise.

Neural Adaptations

There is increased efficiency and a delay in the fatigue of contractile mechanisms.

Muscular Adaptations

There is an increase in the aerobic capacity of trained muscles.

This allows athletes to perform at specific intensities much easier due to aerobic training. 

Connective Tissue and Bone Adaptations

The growth and extent of growth completely depend on the intensity of the exercise stimulus.

Endocrine Adaptations

There are increases in hormone circulation and receptor level changes with aerobic exercise.

Maximal exercise causes increases the secretion of hormones.

Athletes that are trained have lessened responses to Submax exercise.

Adaptations to Aerobic Endurance Training

A common adaptation measured in aerobic endurance training is the increase that occurs in max oxygen uptake associated with increases in max cardiac output.

Training intensity is an important factor in improving and maintaining aerobic power.

Aerobic endurance training results in reduced body fat and blood lactate concentrations. Also, an increase in max oxygen uptake, respiratory capacity, mitochondrial density, and capillary density. There is also improved activity of enzymes.

Individual and External Factors that Influence Adaptations to Aerobic Endurance Training

Altitude

After 2,900 feet or 1,200 meters, changes begin to occur.

There is an increase in pulmonary ventilation and cardiac output at rest and Submax exercise due to heart rate.

Values return to their normal ranges in two weeks.

Prolonged altitude exposure causes chronic physiological and metabolic adjustments.

Pulmonary: Hyperventilation

Acid-Base: Body fluids become more alkaline

Cardiovascular 

Increases in cardiac output and Submax heart rate.

Stroke volume may remain at the same level or even lower.

Hematologic 

There is an increase in red blood cell production, hematocrit, and viscosity.

There is a decrease in plasma volume.

Hyperoxic Breathing

Taking in oxygen rich gases during rest may bring about positive effects during exercise, but it is still controversial.

Smoking

Tobacco smoking may impair performance during exercise.

Blood Doping

Blood doping can improve performance during aerobic exercise, which has many health risks and is unethical.

Blood doping is the infusion of your own red blood cells or someone else’s, stimulating red blood cell production.

Genetic Potential

The absolute magnitude is dictated by the upper limit of an individual’s genetic potential.

Age and Sex

Max aerobic power is shown to decrease with age for adults.

The values of aerobic power for woman range from 73-85 percent of men’s values.

Generally, the physiological responses to training are very similar for both men and women.

Overtraining Prevalence, Diagnosis, and Possible Markers

Cardiovascular Responses

Higher training volumes affect heart rate. 

Biochemical Responses

High training volumes may show increased creatine kinase levels, which would indicate muscle damage.

Glycogen in the muscle has decreased with prolonged periods of overtraining.

Endocrine Responses

The testosterone to cortisol ratio and GH secretion results from overtraining. 

Strategies for the Prevention of Overtraining Syndrome

There are big decreases in athletes’ performance when overtraining. It is typically the cause of mistakes when designing a program.

Aerobic Overtraining Markers

Decreases in:

  • Performance
  • Body fat percentage
  • Maximal uptake of oxygen
  • Muscle glycogen
  • Lactate
  • Total testosterone concentration
  • Total testosterone to cortisol ratio
  • Free testosterone to cortisol ratio
  • Total testosterone to sex hormone-binding globulin ratio
  • Sympathetic tone

Increases in:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Submaximal exercising heart rate
  • Creatine kinase
  • Sympathetic stress response

Detraining

An athlete loses training adaptations if inactivity follows exercise.

We can use Tapering to reduce the training volume for athletic competition or a planned rest Microcycle.

To protect against major detraining effects, we should vary exercise properly with types of exercise, intensity, maintenance programs, and also active recovery periods.

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CSCS Chapter 6: Adaptations to Aerobic Endurance Training Programs 1
CSCS Chapter 6: Adaptations to Aerobic Endurance Training Programs 2
CSCS Chapter 6: Adaptations to Aerobic Endurance Training Programs 3

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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