YOUNG AGE-GROUP TRAINING SHOULD EMPHASIZE AEROBIC WORK
Mercier, J., Vago, P., Ramonatxo, M., Bauer, C., & Prefaut, C. (1987). Effect of aerobic training quantity on the VO2max of circumpubertal swimmers. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 8, 26-30.
The effects of extensive training on developing swimmers has been considered for some time with mixed opinions and research results. Often limited research methods and designs have confused the understanding of this topic.
This investigation tracked boys swimming either 7 or 14 hours per week in a predominantly aerobic training program for a period of two years. Ages ranged from 10 to 14 years and so it was possible to assess long-term training effects when the boys went through the adolescent growth spurt (the time just after puberty). The two groups were quite similar in physical structure and aerobic capacity at the commencement of the study.
Aerobic capacity changes were evaluated using a non-swimming test. Such a lack of specificity would dampen any changes or differences if they were to occur.
The quantity-aerobic training group exhibited a greater amount of growth in the growth spurt stage. Two measures of aerobic function changed significantly after the age of 12 years: (a) VO2max (ml/kg/min), and (b) maximum oxygen pulse per kg body weight (VO2max / HRmax ml/kg/bts). The differences at both ages were approximately 16 percent. The major variable that changed to produce this improvement was the stroke volume of the heart, that is, the heart pumped more blood per beat. No differences in maximum heart rates were found between the groups.
A comparison of previous literature findings that agree and disagree with these findings was included in the article. It is this reviewer's assessment that studies conducted over a long period of time (e.g., a number of years) agree with this observed phenomenon.
The aerobic values obtained for both groups exceeded the more standard measures for boys of the same age by values between 48 and 53 percent.
Implications. The results of this study suggest several principles for consideration. Until further research becomes available, a coach should assume that the growth-training phenomenon would also occur in girls but at an earlier age.
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