The effect of endurance training on parameters of aerobic fitness

Sports Med. 2000 Jun;29(6):373-86. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200029060-00001.


Endurance exercise training results in profound adaptations of the cardiorespiratory and neuromuscular systems that enhance the delivery of oxygen from the atmosphere to the mitochondria and enable a tighter regulation of muscle metabolism. These adaptations effect an improvement in endurance performance that is manifest as a rightward shift in the 'velocity-time curve'. This shift enables athletes to exercise for longer at a given absolute exercise intensity, or to exercise at a higher exercise intensity for a given duration. There are 4 key parameters of aerobic fitness that affect the nature of the velocity-time curve that can be measured in the human athlete. These are the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), exercise economy, the lactate/ventilatory threshold and oxygen uptake kinetics. Other parameters that may help determine endurance performance, and that are related to the other 4 parameters, are the velocity at VO2max (V-VO2max) and the maximal lactate steady state or critical power. This review considers the effect of endurance training on the key parameters of aerobic (endurance) fitness and attempts to relate these changes to the adaptations seen in the body's physiological systems with training. The importance of improvements in the aerobic fitness parameters to the enhancement of endurance performance is highlighted, as are the training methods that may be considered optimal for facilitating such improvements.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Bicycling / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology
  • Running / physiology


  • Lactic Acid