Definition

The Anaerobic Threshold (AT)(also called the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) is defined as that intensity of effort (speed) above which lactic acid starts piling up in the muscles and blood. This piling up is due to the fact that the removal of the lactic acid can no longer keep up with your production. This anaerobic threshold is therefore the transition from the aerobic - to the anaerobe lactic energy supply system. The later an player reaches this threshold, the better its endurance.

Work below the anaerobic threshold can be continued at a longer period of time (at least 45 minutes). Work with an intensity above the anaerobic threshold will be much shorter. With the lactate acid levels increasing, the acidity of the of the muscles and blood increases, this influences the performances negatively. Rugby is a high intensity sport, you have to develop the player's anaerobic energy supply system and the efficiency of the player's body in the lactic acids tolerance and removal. In order to do this you have to know the anaerobic - or lactate threshold. This is also know as HIT: High Intensity Training.

There are several ways to determine the anaerobic threshold based on the maximum heart frequency:

  • Maximum heart rate using heart monitors
  • 220 - age rule
  • Drop of from a 200 meter intervals

There are all kinds of fancy lab tests requiring expensive equipment. My point is that you the coach should develop a trained eye! Look for shortening stride length and knees that do not go up as high into the stride anymore to recognize lactate acid levels rising.

Running these tests below will help you develop that sense.....

1. Based on the maximum heart frequency

Maximum heart rate monitors

Based on one's maximum heart frequency one can consider 70% of the maximum heart frequency as minimum and 90% of the maximum heart frequency as maximum threshold. The maximum heart frequency is simply determined with the use of a heart rate monitor and a standardized test. When a player is carrying a heart rate monitor you can check if his work rate was below or above his anaerobic threshold.

[note: the test mentioned below is not advised for adults who had no thorough medical check and certainly not for people with a risk on carrying heart diseases. Players who are just starting a program have to be assisted by someone with experience.]

The 220 - ages rule

A lot of people use a theoretical maximum heart which is based on the formula 220 minus the age (in years). On this theoretical value the 70% and 90% are then calculated and used as minimum and maximum heart frequency. For us rugbycoaches this comes down to:

  • 20 yr. old: max heart rate = 200; HIT area = 140 - 180
  • 30 yr. old: max heart rate = 190; HIT area = 133 - 171

(You will see how difficult it is to work in this area)

This approach is perhaps useful for a very general program in the fitness center, but is not certainly accurate enough for your work with players. You want to train and progress in fitness, and better test methods are necessary.

Field test for finding the maximum heart rate

Do a low intensity warming-up of at least 10 minutes. Next, bring up the intensity for every 10 or 30 seconds. Meanwhile continues to follow the heart rate on the heart rate monitor carefully. When the players starts to dig deep and becomes heavily fatigued they should give it their last go with a final sprint.

Read the heart rate from the monitor immediately after concluding the effort. Walk or jog, do not lie down or sit after this maximum effort test.

2. The Conconi Test

Another test to determine the anaerobe threshold is developed by Conconi. He based his test on the basic rule that the heart frequency increases linearly with increasing load, to divert from this line on a certain point.

The dots on the chart below reflect the heart rate measured on the 200 meters interval on a athletics track of 400 meter. The player runs each subsequent 200 meter 2 seconds faster until exhaustion sets in (and the required speed can be no longer maintained). The point at which the heart frequency no longer increases linearly is the anaerobe threshold. Conconi also performed lactic acid tests that confirmed the method.

conconi test

This method has been questioned scientifically because several other research workers could never get the results to those Conconi presented. This method is thus not really reliable.

Related documents

I was visiting the Edinburgh Wanderers club last autumn and had to go (...) Edinburgh Wanderers provide the facilities for the Academy program of the S.R.U. Down at the toilets there were Urine Color charts so Academy players could check if they were de-hydrated or not.

The card is an easy tool but more importantly: the players can check their individual hydration levels themselves. I think this is an important aspect of the chart: stay in control!

I set-up a Urine Color Chart for you to download from the Free Download Page and print out.

More background information I took from the Mayoclinic.com website in the table below.

Urine color

Possible medical and dietary causes

Clear

  • Excess liquids
  • Liver disorders, such as acute viral hepatitis or cirrhosis

Bright or neon yellow

  • Vitamin supplements

Dark yellow or gold

  • Dehydration
  • Some laxatives
  • Foods or supplements containing B complex vitamins

Pink or red

  • Blood in the urine, such as due to kidney or bladder infection or cancer
  • Certain foods, such as beets and berries, and food dyes
  • Some laxatives

Orange

  • Side effect of certain medications, such as rifampin, doxorubicin (Adriamycin, Rubex), phenazopyridine (Pyridium) and warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Certain foods and food dyes
  • Dehydration
  • Some laxatives

Blue or green

  • Side effect of certain medications, such as amitriptyline and indomethacin (Indocin)
  • Certain foods, such as asparagus, and food dyes

Dark brown or tea colored

  • Liver disorders, especially if accompanied by pale stools and jaundice
  • Side effect of certain medications
  • Blood in the urine
  • Certain foods and food dyes

Cloudy or murky

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Kidney stones

Note: I do not know any of the medicins in this table and if they are on the illegal substances list. The table is just a copy of the mayclinic.com website!

The Yo-Yo determines the maximum aerobic endurance of a player. The test is derived from the Shuttle Run Test.

With this test the participants run back and forth across the gym or training pitch between two lines/markers set twenty meters apart until the players fails to reach the mark at the 'beep' on three consecutive laps or shuttles. After each inidvidual shuttle the players has an active recovery period of 10 seconds. For this, the player jogs up-and-down two cones set 5 meters apart.
The test is usually performed indoor and the speed of the participants is determined by the interval between the audio beeps played on a CD player, cassette or laptop.

Background information on the YoYo test

The starting speed is 10 km/h and each minute the speed is increased by decreasing the interval between the beeps, see the table below for ‘beep’ interval times for each one minute stage.

Yo-yo intermittent Recovery Test protocol 1

 

Stage

Speed
(km/h)

Shuttle
bouts
(2x20m)

Split
distance

Accumulated
distance

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
10,0
12,0
13,0
13,5
14,0
14,5
15,0
15,5
16,0
16,5
17,0
17,5
18,0
18,5
19,0
1
1
2
3
4
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
8
40
40
80
120
160
320
320
320
320
320
320
320
320
320
320
40
80
160
280
440
760
1080
1400
1720
2040
2360
2680
3000
3320
3640

Players should pivot on the line at the moment of the beep (not quicker or slower). The test result is expressed in stages, you can score between 1/2 or 1 stage.

Yo-yo intermittent Recovery Test protocol 2

 

Stage

Speed
(km/h)

Shuttle
bouts
(2x20m)

Split
distance

Accumulated
distance

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
11,5
12,0
12,5
13,0
13,5
14,0
14,5
15,0
15,5
16,0
16,5
17,0
17,5
18,0
10
11
11
11
12
12
13
13
13
14
14
15
15
15
200
220
220
220
240
240
260
260
260
280
280
300
300
320
200
420
640
860
1100
1340
1600
1860
2120
2400
2680
2980
3280
3600

 

Practicalities

Timing is critical so it is important for the CD/MP3 or older audio cassette plays at the correct speed. We have found that CD players can be affected by pitch controls (set these at neural or off), MP3 playback speed can be affected by mismatch on CODEC sample rates.

Check the playback with the 1 min. test period at the start of the tape. If not possible to adjust for errors in playback speed you will have to work with the shuttle length using this table:

Background information

Thanks to Rich Britten

Introduction

The Australian Rugby Union (A.R.U.) set up a test protocol with specific rugby related elements like running, getting-up, pick-up a ball and driving. This is both the advantage of this test: players can relate to it and enjoy it more and the disadvantage: in order to improve the time the execution of the skills becomes sloppy.

On the other hand it is cheap and simple. You decide....

The fitness test

  1. Divide the team into 2 groups, ideally match for body mass.
  2. Have the paired players face each other 15-20 metres apart, with either a ball, or a shoe at the mid-point.
  3. The drill consists of 3 component: pick and drive, pick and press, sprint. The coach calls out the drills in the sequence listed below, work across the table row by row (horizontally)

Adjust how far down you go depending on the stage of season and general fitness of players. The players have to complete each drill during the allotted time (seconds).

DriveDrivePick & PressPick & PressSprintSprint
25s - 25s - 45s -
20s - 20s - 40s 40s
20s 15s 15s - 35s -
15s 10s 15s 10s 30s 30s
10s - 10s - 30s -
10s 10s 10s - 25s -

More in detail:

  • Drive: player sprints to the ball and picks it up and then drives into contact with his partner, driving him at least 5 metres.
  • Pick/Press: player sprints to the balls, picks it up and runs to side of partner, places the ball, does one push up then sprints back, placing the ball down at mid-point.
  • Sprint: I use approximately a 120 metre sprint, you can use the field width X2.
  • Once the first half has finished change over and have the other players of the pair do the drills.

All within the given times. The drill gets progressively harder as lactic acid builds up, and the double sprints kill the players psychologically as well as physically. (You can be sneaky and adjust the separation distance as the season progresses as well)

Emphasis team unity, have "tackle dummies" encourage partner, and also any player struggling.

Seriously any club that has the money should consider buying the CD- I believe it's on the ARU web-site for about $40 Australian dollars, which I think is about $20 USD.

The focus of the coaching staff of this selection was to create an climate where young and promising players could grow into a mature athlete for the National team. For most of the players it was a time for serious decision making: pursue a career as a top rugby player or not? Testing players fitness fitted in nicely in this philosophy.

The program was divided in several sections:

  • Strength tests using a multi gym, sargent jump
  • Body Composition using skin fold, height / weight measurements, stretch-and-reach mobility test
  • Anaerobic endurance test: shuttle run (also know as beep test or multistage fitness test)

These test were performed at Papendal, the Dutch National Sports center at the following times:

  • End of September (normal club season in fourth week)
  • Around Christmas
  • March (we used to have internationals in April / May)

Test would be performed at Friday evening, the beep test or shuttle run test indoors and the players would get an evaluation after Saturdays lunch. (Saturday we would do unit and team skills). Saturday afternoon players would leave for home with a copy of their test results (including previous results). I developed a database for this.

An interesting correlation exists between the shuttle run tests and the fat percentage of a player. This way we could prove the players that minding what you eat can improve your ability as a player. (My database would generate these and graphs). The result was that players improved on their diet.

Interesting results were players changing their diet, picking up weight training schedules, comparing their results amongst each other and setting a standard (norming). I think a good example was the growing popularity of the banana the fast food version of fruit.

Fitness training became an essential element of the Under 21 Selection.