Endurance

What does VO2 max mean?

The term VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume per minute, while exercising. In simpler terms, it’s your aerobic fitness or your endurance. As we saw in this blog post [LINK], the oxidative – or aerobic- system is able to provide an infinite amount of energy through mitochondrial respiration. Training the aerobic system comes first in a periodized yearly training plan, because it is the foundation that every derby skater needs to have, regardless of level, experience, status on team etc. It doesn’t matter how great of a skater you are; if you get tired too quickly, you won’t be able to use your skating skills and you’ll wind up in the box or on the bench.

Continuous training (CT) or interval training (IT)?

A large body of research has shown that high-intensity intervals are more efficient than running at continuous intensity, whether it be a long and slow intensity, or shorter runs at lactate threshold. Now, the question is to figure out what kind of intervals exactly we should do, when the goal is to increase our VO2 max. Longer intervals (3-5 min) are best to increase aerobic capacity, which is how long you’ll be able to keep going. Shorter intervals (less than 3 minutes) are best to increase aerobic power, which how fast you can go, while remaining primarily in an aerobic zone, instead of switching to anaerobic lactic (i.e., glycolysis).

Below is a 10-week program to help you improve your VO2 max. There is quite a bit of running in this program, because your heart rate can go higher when you run, compared to skating or cycling. So when it comes to cardio, you get a bigger ‘bang for your buck’ when you run than when you skate or bike.

To view the table directly in google docs, click here.

Week
Day
Modality
Workout
11RunBeep test
2Skate (derby track)5' WFTDA test
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
21RunCooper test (12' TT)
2Skate (derby track)4*(4'/3') at 12"/lap
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
31Run2(7x30"on/30"off) R=3'
2Skate (derby track)4*(4'/3') at 12"/lap
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
41Run2(8x30"on/30"off) R=3'
2Skate (derby track)4*(4'/3') at 11.5"/lap
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
5 (recovery week)1RunFartlek run (recovery)
2Skate (derby track)No laps (recovery)
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
61Run2(9x30"on/30"off) R=3'
2Skate (derby track)4*(4'/3') at 11.5"/lap
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
71Run2(10x30"on/30"off) R=3'
2Skate (derby track)4*(4'/3') at 11"/lap
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
81Run2(7x45"on/45"off) R=3'
2Skate (derby track)4*(4'/3') at 11"/lap
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
91Run2(8x45"on/45"off) R=3'
2Skate (derby track)4*(4'/3') at 10.5"/lap
3Run, bike, or skate (recovery)30' run or 40' bike or skate
10 (testing week)1RunBeep test
2Skate (derby track)5' WFTDA test
3RunCooper test (12' TT)

Program explanations:

Running tests: Several tests can be used to estimate VO2 max, which is why week 2 and week 10 both have running tests. I strongly encourage you to do them as a team, especially for the Leger test, since it requires a bit of preparation.

How to do the Leger test (also known as beep test)

How to do the semi-Cooper test (Cooper test is 12 minutes, semi-Cooper is 6 minutes)

Skating test: this is the standard WFTDA 5 minute test. You skate around the track for 5 minutes non-stop and complete as many laps as possible.

Day 1: This workout is called the Billat 30 30, named after French exercise physiologist Veronique Billat. You sprint for 30 seconds, then jog for 30 seconds. The distance covered when sprinting should be approximately equal to 1/12th of the total distance you covered in the semi-Cooper test (6-minute time trial). Your jog between sprints should be about half of your sprinting speed. The number or sets is only a suggestion; ideally, you want to repeat these intervals until failure and the number of sets should gradually increase throughout the program. Make sure you do a full warm-up before running these intervals. Spend extra time warming up your hamstrings, since roller derby skaters tend to have a lot of imbalances between their quads and hamstrings and we’re not used to using our hamstrings that much.

Day 2: This workout happens on the derby track, either during a team practice or on your own if you can. Here, the number of sets and reps is the same every week, but the speed increases gradually. The times per lap are only a suggestion, to give you an idea of what this should look like in terms of progression. But you may start at 14” per lap instead of 12” for example, depending on your current level. If you have a heart rate monitor, you should be around 90-95% or max heart rate during the 4-minute intervals, then around 70% of HR max during the active recovery between reps. You can skate in clockwise direction during the active recovery, so you work on cross-overs in the other direction and keep the blood flow going.

Day 3: This is your recovery day. I suggest running, cycling, or skating. But you could also play soccer, hockey, or any sport that keeps your heart rate up and that you like to do.

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