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Aerobic Potential
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I want to pick the brains of all the armchair exercise physiologists out there.

Awhile ago, I read an interesting discussion in the USMS site about aerobic potential. The gist of it was that, other factors being equal, ones aerobic potential is limited by how late in life you begin participation in aerobic based sports such as swimming and running. The argument was that beginning ones 'career' after the onset of puberty puts you hopelessly behind peers who began theirs earlier in life due to the the effect of high levels of HGH during the onset of puberty and how it makes aerobic adaptation take place at a much faster pace than than in any other phase of a human's life.

For example, take a set of twins. Start one on a swimming, running, or cycling program say at about the age of 10. As for the other twin, don't let he/she participate in any aerobic based sport (baseball and football are OK) until they reach the age of 15, give or take. The theory says that no matter how hard or dedicated the latter twin trains after deciding to take up, say, cycling, that twin will never acieve the same level of performance as the first twin. Now this assumes that after puberty the first twin has been keeping up with at least a modest training program.

I wanted to pose this to members of this forum. Is this theory off the wall, or is there something scientific to it? I have seen some anecdotal evidence of the aforementioned phenomena, but I was wondering how seriously this question has been addressed.
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Re: Aerobic Potential [martytram] [ In reply to ]
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I agree with it. I bet there are exceptions though.

I agree with this because there actually is a pair of twins that swim w/ me on the high school swim team here who did that same things as the examples. One girl started when she was about 6 or 7 on a team while the other twin did soccer and stuff. Right now, that first twin is years ahead of her sister in all the events and in practice. Of course, the one that started later is making the most improvement but you never know if she could catch up to sister.
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Re: Aerobic Potential [martytram] [ In reply to ]
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Interesting. Possibly true, but let me put it up from another angle.

I agree probably the earlier the better from a view of physiology theory, but there is a potential real world downside. I'm 52 yrs old and started triathlon only three seasons ago. I'll never win Hawaii but for me tri at the MOP AG level I participate is a lifestyle that may hopefully help to extend my life on this planet, hopefully into my mid 90's as with a couple of my family members. Never was really a jock in high school although I did some track, soccer and basketball in high school. Wasn't on any college sports teams but thru my adult life I was recreational fit in the sense that I haved always either jogged, rode a bike, roller bladed, scuba, recreational swimming, cross country skiied, etc. All this has been at a recreational level and never at a competitive level.

If I look back to the really serious athletes that I knew in highschool/college most of them at my age are now much "older" in the sense that they have shot knees, degenerative discs in the lower back, hip problems, and in some cases more serious things such as bad hearts, high BP, etc. The majority of these guys couldn't do a triathlon today. Perhaps it's genetics but I've also been very conscious about my health for the past 25 yrs by being nearly vegetarian and practicing yoga to maintain body flexibility. My body weight is the same within five lbs as it was 25 yrs ago. All my ex jock friends have been meat and potato types and are almost all quite a bit heavier than they were when in their twenties. I can think of only one exception to this. And this guy can still run a 35 minute 10 km at 54 yrs old.

I'm drifting a bit, but sometimes it's not a big advantage in starting earlier if you look at the larger picture. The highly tuned athlete is like a Formula One racing engine, and those engines aren't built for longevity the way your dad's low reving old Chevy V8 was.

My point. Perhaps moderation is sometimes better in the long run. And maybe it's not best to push your kids too early.
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Re: Aerobic Potential [martytram] [ In reply to ]
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This theory just seems to me to be impossible to verify. The only way to truly test it would be to take the same person--I know that's impossible--and run them through the two scenarios. Yet, even if you could, it would be so hard to isolate the variables that you'd never really prove the theory.

Twins are different people. They may share common DNA, look the same, seem identical, but there are differences that might also explain the difference in outcome. Even comparing twins, therefore, is fraught with problems, since the earlier twin may just have greater aptitude in the endurance sport.

It seems to me that there's another explanation for the results. We tend to like and stick with what we're good at. It seems that those who get into endurance sports early tend to do so because of their own aptitude and, to a lesser but related degree, interests. Those who are late-comers tend to do so because something else appealed to them at an earlier time--frequently because it's something they were better at than the endurance sports.

That's just my two cents worth...

Ben H

Christian, Husband, Father, Ranger, Triathlete
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Re: Aerobic Potential [Ben H] [ In reply to ]
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There was a special edition of peak Performance on kids a while back. Basically, it showed that pre-pubescent aerobic training was only marginally effective, and not worth the effort as long as kids were reasonably active.

However, training during puberty saw huge increases in VO2 max, which probably gave kids who did this a head start that would stay with them.

There is of course the skill factor which is best learned as early as possible so as to be ingrained, but early specificity runs the risk of training kids to the point of burnout or boredom. Keeping it fun, and keeping them interested early on is the key, then hopefully they will want to be active during puberty when the big gains are to be made.
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Re: Aerobic Potential [shw10] [ In reply to ]
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Careful now gents...Next thing you know we'll be heading down the same paths that the East Germans and Soviets did years ago. I'm not sure I want to "ensure" my sons' and daughter's future success by starting them on regimented swim/bike/run/etc training at their young ages of 10-15.

1st Place, 50-55 2018 USAT Duathlon Sprint Duathlon National Championships, National Champion; 2nd Place Overall, 2018 Virginia Duathlon; 3rd Place, 50-54, 9th overall, USAT Long Course Duathlon (Miamiman); 4th Place Masters, 10th overall, 2018 Kiawah Island 1/2 Marathon
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Re: Aerobic Potential [shw10] [ In reply to ]
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Quote: "Twins are different people. They may share common DNA, look the same, seem identical, but there are differences that might also explain the difference in outcome. Even comparing twins, therefore, is fraught with problems, since the earlier twin may just have greater aptitude in the endurance sport. "

Yes twins are different people----but i'd like to ask the person quoted above, why would one twin have a greater aptitude for endurance sports over another? Assuming, muscle composition was identical in fast twitch/slow twitch percents, VO2max, max HR, resting HR were all the same. The only potential difference between the two would be work ethic/discipline. And that'd probably be very similar assuming they were raised in the same household.

I see no problems in getting kids into triathlon at an early age. Get them into Ironkids triathlons, balance their lives of course with other things as well. kids things. But I'd be greatful to my parents if they put me on a swim team when i was 8, or if they entered me into an Ironkids triathlon when i was 10. Kids can learn skils faster than anyone. Look at language. I'd argue thats a skill, and a toddler can learn ANY language that they are exposed to. Doesnt that seem remarkable to people. I took spanish 4 yrs in HS and 2 yrs in college and i couldnt speak as well as a 7 yr old hispanic kid.

I beleive that pushing a kid into a sport is a bad idea, but stretching the kids skills and exposing them to sport isnt such a bad idea.

Want: 58cm Cervelo Soloist. PM me if you have one to sell

Vintage Cervelo: A Resource
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Re: Aerobic Potential [martytram] [ In reply to ]
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i don't think the theory is off the wall. There's some research into it, as i recall some of it pretty well done that shows this effect. And no I won't dig it up just opr the sake fo this forum post.

But we have to play the hand we're dealt. No matter how we got here we have to d our best to train our weaknesses. I wonder if Ion ever resigned himself to that fact?
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Re: Aerobic Potential [martytram] [ In reply to ]
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I would be surprised if there was anything to it. We adapt a little slower as we age but i don't think we lose anything in "potential" by starting later. I would be surprised if it were different.

Frank Day M.D.

--------------
Frank,
An original Ironman and the Inventor of PowerCranks
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Re: Aerobic Potential [martytram] counterexample of one [ In reply to ]
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Re: Aerobic Potential [martytram] [ In reply to ]
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I don't think I believe in this. If you look at swimming, I think the younger you start the better. But that is because it's a techique oriented sport.

I once worked with a guy who ran for Nike in it's hey day. He told me that college coaches would rather find talented kids who started running late. They are far less prone to injury and burnout. But they still have the talent.

I think it's 95% genetics. Yes you can work harder than someone else. And someone with a high VO2 max might never find an endurance sport. You might be Jan Ulrich who pisses his talent away. But if you don't have the genetics, you are never going to have a chance against the folks that have it and the work ethic to go along with it.

I started this stuff pretty late in life, at 27 years old. And I'm faster, stronger, and have more endurance today at 41. That's pretty cool in it of itself.

Mike
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Re: Aerobic Potential [martytram] [ In reply to ]
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If i'm correct Paula-Newby Fraser didn't even start exercising until a few years into college which means that she was a few years out from puberty. And I don't think she had any problem maximizing her aerobic potential. And the only way I can see a kid benefiting from aerobic excercise is by swimming and not even for the fitness side of it but for neuromuscular and technique side. I think if kids(10-15) are just staying in shape then they won't lose any potential. But I do believe you'll have a greater potential if you start exercise (cross country or swimming) in your teenage years.
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