Monitoring anaerobic activity

Sep 15, 2013 | ACADEMY

How to analyse metabolic power in relation to individual characteristics

Monitoring anaerobic activity with GPS


This article was updated on 12 September 2017.

Is there any advantage in representing the performance of the player using the metabolic power approach?

Yes, there is a two-fold advantage. On one hand, the metabolic power allows considering the combined effect of speed and acceleration together, a crucial point if we deal with team sports. On the other, it’s much easier to analyse the performance on an individual basis by using the maximal aerobic power of the athlete (VO₂max) which, of course, can be expressed in the same unit of metabolic power.

The “critical” aerobic power threshold is very important in the assessment of the overall performance because it separates quite clearly the amount of energy from aerobic sources (i.e the activity below the threshold) from the amount of energy from anaerobic sources (i.e. the activity above the threshold) (see figure 1).


GPS technology (as well as any other tracking system) allows to estimate the instantaneous metabolic power and it’s very easy to detect all the phases in which the energy demands exceed the actual VO₂ (or, in other words, a kind of “concomitance” between the anaerobic system intervention and the energy supply from the aerobic system). The more frequent these moments, the greater the intervention of anaerobic energy mechanisms required to perform the exercise.

Further information can be derived from this approach:

  • the overall anaerobic energy
  • the number of high power events
  • the events’ description


A single power event can be performed in different ways: the energy demand during this phase may require a metabolic power greater than the power supply from the aerobic system when…

  • the acceleration is high and the speed is low
  • the speed is high and the acceleration is, of course, low
  • the combination of moderate speed and acceleration occurs


The representation of the events grouped by duration, distance covered or peak speed can improve the understanding of the performance profile of the player as well as the characteristics of a drill (see figure 2)


Author: Cristian Osgnach
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