Sports Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 15, pp 1127–1143 | Cite as

Endurance Training and Aerobic Fitness in Young People

  • Georges Baquet
  • Emmanuel Van Praagh
  • Serge BerthoinEmail author
Review Article


Training-induced adaptations in aerobic fitness have been extensively studied in adults, and some exercise scientists have recommended similar training programmes for young people. However, the subject of the response to aerobic training of children and adolescents is controversial. The effects of exercise training on prepubertal children are particularly debatable. The latter may be partly explained by different training designs, which make comparisons between studies very problematic.

We have analysed the procedures applied to protocol design and training methods to highlight the real impact of aerobic training on the peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2) of healthy children and adolescents. In accordance with previously published reviews on trainability in youngsters, research papers were rejected from the final analysis according to criteria such as the lack of a control group, an unclear training protocol, inappropriate statistical procedures, small sample size, studies with trained or special populations, or with no peak V̇O2 data. Factors such as maturity, group constitution, consistency between training and testing procedures, drop out rates, or attendance were considered, and possible associations with changes in peak V̇O2 with training are discussed.

From 51 studies reviewed, 22 were finally retained. In most of the studies, there was a considerable lack of research regarding circumpubertal individuals in general, and particularly in girls. The results suggest that methodologically listed parameters will exert a potential influence on the magnitude of peak V̇O2 improvement. Even if little difference is reported for each parameter, it is suggested that the sum of errors will result in a significant bias in the assessment of training effects. The characteristics of each training protocol were also analysed to establish their respective potential influence on peak V̇O2 changes. In general, aerobic training leads to a mean improvement of 5–6% in the peak V̇O2 of children or adolescents. When only studies that reported significant training effect were taken into account, the mean improvement in peak V̇O2 rose to 8–10%. Results suggested that intensities higher than 80% of maximal heart rate are necessary to expect a significant improvement in peak V̇O2.

There is clearly a need for longitudinal or cross-sectional studies that investigate the relationship between maturity and training with carefully monitored programmes. Further research is also needed to compare interval training and continuous training.


Exercise Intensity Cycle Ergometer Aerobic Training Aerobic Fitness Training Protocol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this manuscript. The author has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Georges Baquet
    • 1
  • Emmanuel Van Praagh
    • 2
  • Serge Berthoin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratoire d’Etudes de la Motricité Humaine, Faculty of Sports Sciences and Physical EducationUniversity of Lille 2RonchinFrance
  2. 2.Faculty of Sports SciencesBlaise Pascal UniversityClermont-FerrandFrance

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