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How does fitness actually improve? Watch

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    Hi all,

    I just want to understand a little more about how fitness works more precisely.

    So firstly can you say performance in a physical event such as running/cycling/hiking is a combination of lung capacity (ability and efficiency with which oxygen gets to your muscles), muscular strength/endurance (maximum potential power your muscles can exert and period over which you can do so) and technique?

    And that 99/100 the person that wins the race is the person with the highest combination of the above?

    Can we also agree that the first factor, fitness, is often the most important indicator in the activities listed above?

    Then is VO2 Max a good indicator of fitness, and all else being held equal would a person with a higher VO2 Max beat a person with a lower one?

    Then that brings me to my real question I guess, what is the path of progression for improving your VO2 Max? Over how long can you improve how much? If one week I run a 5k in 24 mins then the next week in 23 mins does that mean my VO2 Max has improved? That's what an online calculator would imply. Does everyone have a lifetime max for this figure dependent on genetics? How can you tell if your max VO2 Max is high or low? How much can it be improved? If VO2 Max is capped for an individual does that mean 5k times are also capped when strength/technique are no longer limiting factors?


    Sorry for the flood of questions I'm just curious as it's pretty important for long term training goals 🙂
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    VO2 max is one of the best indicator for endurace sports. More oxygen you can use for cardiorespiratory, the better your performance
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    (Original post by 442113)
    Hi all,

    I just want to understand a little more about how fitness works more precisely.

    So firstly can you say performance in a physical event such as running/cycling/hiking is a combination of lung capacity (ability and efficiency with which oxygen gets to your muscles), muscular strength/endurance (maximum potential power your muscles can exert and period over which you can do so) and technique?
    Actually no - lungs are not the limiting factor unless 1) you're at altitude 2) you have a lung disease 3) you're an elite endurance athlete (like, competing for best in the world kind of level). For 99% of the population its the heart.

    The major category you're missing is psychology. You can have all of those things, but if you lack proper motivation to compete or train then you're not getting anywhere.

    And personally I'd combine muscular endurance and cardiovascular fitness as its a bit grey as to where you draw the distinction (what does your body increasing the number of muscle capillaries count as? What about changes to haemaglobin, or other intracellular proteins that aid aerobic metabolism...). The requirements are also very dependent upon sport (e.g. 200/400m vs marathon). So I would say: fitness, technique, psychology.

    And that 99/100 the person that wins the race is the person with the highest combination of the above?
    There are so many variables at work that any simplification is going to be crude. But I guess so?

    Can we also agree that the first factor, fitness, is often the most important indicator in the activities listed above?
    Depends on the sport, and how you're defining psychology and its impact.

    Then is VO2 Max a good indicator of fitness, and all else being held equal would a person with a higher VO2 Max beat a person with a lower one?
    I guess.

    Then that brings me to my real question I guess, what is the path of progression for improving your VO2 Max? Over how long can you improve how much? If one week I run a 5k in 24 mins then the next week in 23 mins does that mean my VO2 Max has improved? That's what an online calculator would imply
    Probably, but not necessarily. There are so many factors at work - maybe the weather was better, maybe you were more motivated, maybe your pre-race diet was better. Maybe you lost weight. Who knows.

    It is reasonable to assume that your VO2 max will improve with regular exercise though yes.

    Does everyone have a lifetime max for this figure dependent on genetics? How can you tell if your max VO2 Max is high or low? How much can it be improved? If VO2 Max is capped for an individual does that mean 5k times are also capped when strength/technique are no longer limiting factors?
    I mean, there are advances in sports science all the time. And realistically no one is likely to have all the factors some together for a perfect race.

    Some people have greater natural ability than others yes. How do you find out? Well some things are obvious - you're not going to be a great distance runner if you're not very skinny. You're not going to be the best at anything if you're a woman (sorry girls). But others you're only going to know by trying. You can't go to a lab and be told what you're capable of - only you can prove that.

    Sorry for the flood of questions I'm just curious as it's pretty important for long term training goals 🙂
    The answers are also kind of vague, unfortunately. Pick a sport you enjoy and work hard at it and see what results you get.
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    I honestly don't think it's worth taking the technical approach, at least (taking running for example) not when you're still in the 20s for a 5k. It's much better just to increase volume and be patient with the rewards, and to compete semi-frequently both for enjoyment and accomplishment.

    If you're at 25 and want, say, sub 17 over the next two years, you're going to have to put in a lot of emotional effort and dedication to get there. You're going to have to long for and appreciate the good days and pick yourself up after the bad ones. Having this kind of attachment to your sport is great, and whilst an awareness of technical aspects can be advantageous, it's nothing compared to going with how you feel.

    I have run 15:30 for 5k and close to 32 for 10k and still don't really know what VO2 max means. My training is based on consistency and doing what I've previously found to work well for me.
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    No need to overcomplicate it. The body reacts to physical stress by adapting. You put it under strain, it strengthens itself to be better prepared for that same stress should it happen again. Once it's adapted, it'll take a greater degree of stress to push the body to the same degree of strain, but if you do then it'll adapt once again. The process can be repeated until you reach the peak of what your body is capable of, be that with your cardiovascular fitness, physical strength or muscularity.
 
 
 
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