Gibbons, E. S. (1987). The significance of anaerobic threshold in exercise prescription. Journal of Sports Medicine, 27, 357-361.

In the past exercise prescriptions have been based on specific percentages of maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) with the implication that if the percentages are met specific desired results will be obtained. Because the anaerobic threshold does not occur at a consistent percentage of VO2max for all individuals, the significance of such a prescription is diminished. This situation is complicated even further in that the percentage of VO2max that is appropriate for an individual also varies depending upon the state of aerobic training. Anaerobic threshold does influence fuel use and lactic acid accumulation and is an indication of the discrepancy between oxygen supply and demand. The threshold may be a more accurate indicator of circulatory and metabolic adaptation to exercise stress than some predetermined percentage of VO2max. Prescriptions based on VO2max do not distinguish between work above and below anaerobic threshold. Therefore, exercise performed in the commonly accepted range of 50 to 85 percent of VO2max may cause varied results and benefits. Such errors are not appropriate for the prescription of workloads designed to produce very specific training effects. After studying females of varying fitness levels and measuring heart rates, VO2max, and anaerobic threshold it was concluded that exercise prescriptions based on a percent of VO2max or percent of maximum heart rate without considering anaerobic threshold level will create various training stimuli and will result in various levels of improvement in cardiovascular functions and metabolic processes. Therefore, exercise prescriptions using anaerobic threshold as a principal ingredient, rather than VO2max should be developed (p. 357).

Implication. When conditioning stimuli are selected at a particular intensity and applied to a group, varied training responses will result between individuals. Consequently, athletes will develop at different rates and in different ways usually resulting in greater variations in performance between individuals rather than producing more consistent ones. This variation is also accentuated further if the states of training of the athletes in a squad are different. Since anaerobic threshold is altered by aerobic training, then less-trained individuals will require a different training stimulus than those who are well-trained. This feature further supports the application of the principle of individuality when formulating training prescriptions.

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