Individualizing Conditioning for Team Training 




Gone are the days (or at least they should be!) of coaches in pre-season sending teams on endless laps to build their “engine” for the competitive season ahead. Even at the “weekend warrior” levels of sport coaches are continually looking for ways to get teams fitter and faster. However in the team environment there can be a huge variance in ability and fitness level and so training may only be at an optimal level for a small percentage of the team with the rest being either over or under trained. Also we need to take into account the fact that different players have different roles within the team with diverse speed and fitness requirements (props prop, wingers run!!). So how do we build a conditioning programme that’s specific to each player’s ability and training needs and that’s cheap and easy for coaches to test, set-up and track week to week? That’s where Maximal Aerobic Speed (MAS) or Intermittent Training (IT) comes in handy!


Without going into the heavy science and physiology of why and how MAS/IT work, what do they involve? At the most basic level MAS & IT involve some sort of high intensity running covering a set distance in a set time followed by either active recovery (lower intensity running for set distance/time) or passive rest. All athletes are running for the same amount of time but will have different required distances to cover in that time, depending on the results of initial testing. So lets take a look at the tests.



MAS testing can be done in two ways. Either the athletes must cover a set distance in the quickest time possible or they can be given a set time in which to cover as much distance as possible.






When working in larger groups it’s much easier to set the distance and have athletes run it in the quickest time possible. This way you can put 1-2 coaches at the end line to record the time each athlete crossed the line rather than figuring out individual distances, which can get very messy, very quickly. Athletes should be instructed to cover the distance as fast as possible without pacing themselves. The following are examples of MAS tests


  • 2 km for time (Set Distance)
  • 5 min to cover max distance (Set Time)
  • 1500m row for time (Set Distance) etc….


To work out Maximal Aerobic Speed simply divide the distance covered in meters by the time taken to cover it in seconds

So if I cover 2km in 10 minutes my MAS is-

MAS = Distance(m) ÷ Time(s)

MAS = 2000m ÷ 600s

MAS = 3.33m/s


To make it easy, log each athlete in an excel spreadsheet and simply apply a formula to convert.

This figure (and different percentages of it) will be used to determine specific, individual distances for each athlete when developing the conditioning programme.



The most commonly used IF test is Martin Buchheit’s 30:15 Intermittent Fitness Test. It’s known as a terminal velocity test which determines VO2max. VO2max is a measure of an individual’s maximal oxygen carrying capacity or what most people refer to as aerobic capacity.

Similar to the well-known Beep Test it involves covering a certain distance in 30 seconds but with an active 15 second recovery. It starts at a very easy speed of 8km/h and progresses in levels, with a 0.5km/h increase per 45 second level. Safe zones are set 3m either side of the start, middle and end lines. If an athlete fails to make it into the safe zone on the beep this is classed as a fail. Athletes are allowed 3 fails before termination of the test. Each Level corresponds to a terminal speed which is then entered into the following formula to determine VO2max.


VO2max (ml.kg-1.min-1) = 28.3 – (2.15 x G) – (0.741 x A) – (0.0357 x W) + (0.0586 x A x VIFT) + (1.03 x VIFT) 

G = Gender (male=1, female=2)

A = Age

W = Weight

VIFT = Terminal Velocity


Unlike the MAS Test the 30:15 IFT requires an audio prompt which can restrict where the test can be conducted as all athletes need to be able to hear the beeps in order to keep up with the pace of the test. However the 30:15 IFT is a more “all encompassing test”.


Where MAS is a test of aerobic capacity, the 30:15 IFT tests the following

  • -Aerobic/anaerobic capacity
  • -Anaerobic Speed Reserve
  • -Acceleration/Deceleration & Change of Direction


VO2max is what we test and track…….

Terminal Velocity, like MAS, is the figure we use (and percentages of it) to programme conditioning for the athlete!!