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.
- running economy
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Competing interests: none declared
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