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 system and the respiratory system in regard to aerobic exercise.
    • Learn the impacts that long term aerobic endurance training has on respiratory, nervous, bone, cardiovascular, muscular, and endocrine systems.
    • See the interactions that result from the design of aerobic endurance training and optimization of the physiological responses of all the body systems.
    • 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 that come from 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 may be 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 the metabolic efficiency, the mass of exercising muscle, and the intensity of exercise

    Max Oxygen Uptake is the largest amount f oxygen that is able to 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 blood is forcefully ejected during ventricular contractions.

    Diastolic blood is defined as the pressure on the arterial walls when there is no blood being forcefully ejected.

    Control of Local

    The blood flow to active muscles is increased a lot 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, for which it decreases.

    Respiratory Responses

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

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

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    Gas Responses

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

    Diffusing capacities of O2 and CO2 increases 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 in the form of 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


    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.

    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 a potential for a slight increase in bone density.

    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 in order 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 aerobic capacity of trained muscles.

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

    Connective Tissue and Bone Adaptations

    The growth and extent of growth completely depends on the intensity of 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 for 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


    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.

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