Today, I would like to share with you my thoughts on the OPTIMAL training intensity for aerobic fitness improvement in elite players? What is the range of intensities needed in the pre-season period? How much time should we spend at high intensity?
These questions were set by Castagna and colleagues (2011) who recorded the 6-week pre-season training of the 1st team squad of PALERMO football club. The players came back to training after a post-championship period of 4 weeks. Last season the team had finished 5th in the Italian premier league (Serie A).
Following pre-start testing in the lab, these elite level players followed their typical training program to develop fitness, technical and tactical aspects of game. In general, they
- Performed aerobic training sessions using ball drills
- Did circuit training at 80-90% 1RM for strength improvement
- Performed 10-30m sprints (2 times per week)
The ratio between the time spend in anaerobic and aerobic training was 1:10.
The main findings with practical applications were
- Improvement in aerobic fitness was associated with time spend at high-intensity only (Heart rate >90% of max)
- It seems, based on these results, that in elite level players high-intensity training should account for at LEAST 8% OF TOTAL WEEKLY TRAINING TIME
These results emphasize the role of high-intensity training in improving physical aspects of match play at elite football players.