Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Appropriate interpretation of aerobic capacity: allometric scaling in adult and young soccer players
  1. K Chamari1,2,
  2. I Moussa-Chamari1,
  3. L Boussaïdi1,
  4. Y Hachana1,
  5. F Kaouech1,
  6. U Wisløff3
  1. 1Unité de Recherche - Evaluation, Sport, Santé, National Centre of Medicine and Science in Sports (CNMSS), El Menzah, Tunisia
  2. 2Tunisian Soccer Federation (FTF, Fédération Tunisienne de Football)
  3. 3Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Department of Cardiology, St Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Wisløff
 Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Olav Kyrres gt 3, 7489 Trondheim, Norway;


Objective: To compare aerobic capacity of young and adult elite soccer players using appropriate scaling procedures.

Methods: Twenty four male adult (mean (SD) age 24 (2) years, weight 75.7 (7.2) kg, Vo2max 66.6 (5.2) ml/lbm/min, where lbm is lean body mass in kg) and 21 youth (14 (0.4) years, 60.2 (7.3) kg, 66.5 (5.9) ml/lbm/min) elite soccer players took part in the study. Allometric equations were used to determine the relation between maximal and submaximal oxygen cost of running (running economy) and body mass.

Results: Maximal and submaximal oxygen uptake increased in proportion to body mass raised to the power of 0.72 (0.04) and 0.60 (0.06) respectively. The Vo2max of adult players was similar to that of the youth players when expressed in direct proportion to body mass—that is, ml/kg/min—but 5% higher (p<0.05) when expressed using appropriate procedures for scaling. Conversely, compared with seniors, youth players had 13% higher (p<0.001) energy cost of running—that is, poorer running economy—when expressed as ml/kg/min but not when expressed according to the scaling procedures.

Conclusions: Compared with the youth soccer players, Vo2max in the seniors was underestimated and running economy overestimated when expressed traditionally as ml/lbm/min. The study clearly shows the pitfalls in previous studies when aerobic capacity was evaluated in subjects with different body mass. It further shows that the use of scaling procedures can affect the evaluation of, and the resultant training programme to improve, aerobic capacity.

  • capacity
  • football
  • running economy
  • scaling

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: none declared