Maximal Aerobic Speed


In recent years Maximal Aerobic Speed has become popular among team sports in particular as it presents a simple and effective method of testing aerobic power. The data from testing can be used directly in the prescription of intensity and volume for conditioning within a session.

This article aims to provide detailed instructions on how to effectively administer a Maximal Aerobic Speed test, in a team setting, and examples of how to then use this test data to plan out conditioning loads across a season.


Maximal Aerobic Speed (MAS) refers to the maximal speed at which maximal oxygen uptake occurs (VO2 max). While there are many established methods to determine or estimate MAS, one of the most practical protocols when testing for field sports is detailed below.

While other methods of on-field MAS testing may utilise GPS units (e.g. maximum distance in set time), mobile Apps, or numbered bibs (tagging), the method outlined in this article requires only minimal equipment:
– A measuring wheel, training cones, a stopwatch/timer, clipboard & pen and a testing sheet for data recording.

In this method the coach measures out a distance 100meters long on a training field, using a measuring wheel, and marks a line on both ends with training cones. Ideally (for prescription purposes) the test would take place on a similar surface to that on which training will take place over the subsequent weeks.

The distance used for this test can vary depending on age, gender, fitness levels and the quality of the surface. From experience we would recommend the following distances as a guide when testing on a grass pitch surface.

Senior Men – 1300-1500m

Minor Men – 1200-1300m

Senior Ladies – 1000-1200m

Minor Ladies – 800-1000m

Following completion of a comprehensive movement prep and an appropriate warm-up, players are requested to take position at the start line and given instructions of how to best complete the test. We recommend players be advised to pace themselves from the start of the test, and are made to understand that the objective is to cover the set distance (e.g. 1200m), in as little time as possible. This will mean that energy will need to be managed throughout the duration of the test to maximise the result. A speed that is too high initially will lead to excessive fatigue early in the test. The players total time will likely be reduced as a result. Finally, all participants should be instructed to listen for their completion time as they finish the test, and to ensure that this time has been recorded correctly before becoming distracted by anything else.

When players are prepared and in a set position at the start line, the coach starts the timer and gives a signal for the test to begin. Using the example of a 1200m test, the participants will complete a total of 6 shuttles of 100 meters, touching the marked line each time with their foot as they turn, and running continuously until the total distance has been covered. The coach may provide frequent updates on the distance completed and remaining, constantly reminding players to pace themselves initially, and to push themselves as the test progresses.

As players cross the finish line after the final 100 meter length, the coach or assistant will read out the completion time from the stopwatch aloud so that all can hear it clearly. Immediately their time is recorded on the testing sheet, ideally by an assistant, allowing the coach to continue to provide updates, encouragement, and finish times to other players.


With the test completion times recorded, it’s possible to estimate MAS using a simple formula;

Distance (meters) ÷ Time (seconds) = Maximal Aerobic Speed (meters/second).

For example;

> 1200 meter run. Completed in 4 minutes, 30 seconds (270 total seconds)

> 1200 / 270 = 4.44

> Maximal Aerobic Speed = 4.4 meters/second

For coaches, we’ve created a free spreadsheet fully prepared for you to populate! Simply add names and times, and set the distance used for your test. The Maximal Aerobic Speed will be automatically calculated for each player.

For individuals, feel free to use our simple assessment form to establish your own MAS from the same test, or even from a test performed on a bike, rowing machine or any other cardiovascular training machine.


The real value of Maximal Aerobic Speed is gained from its use in the prescription of conditioning.
Target distances for the following set for example, can be easily determined by using an athletes MAS;

“Short intervals, Passive Recovery – 15 seconds @115% MAS, 15 seconds rest, x8 repetitions.”

Using 4.4 meter/second as the Maximal Aerobic Speed, this would be calculated as follows;

( 4.4 [m/s] x 15 [seconds] ) x 1.15 = 76 meters


From the above example, over a 15 second run at MaxImal Aerobic Speed (4.4m/s) this player would travel approximately 66 meters. However, since the prescribed set was to be performed at an intensity of 115% MAS, the actual distance for each repetition is calculated to just under 76 meters (66 x 1.15).

This simple formula can be used across intensities to provide calculated target distances for all types of conditioning. In a team setting, typically players will be split into 3-4 groups of similar fitness. This makes it simple for coaches to set up conditioning work in a way that ensures all players are working at the same intensity relative to their Maximum Aerobic Speed. As part of a well structured training plan, MAS provides an easy method to plan and deliver a progressive overload in conditioning work and specific intensities and volumes of running appropriate to the stage of the season.

In the next post in this series we’ll provide a sample conditioning progression that can be used as part of your pre-season training plan.
Subscribe below and we’ll send this direct to your inbox!



For players training on their own, we have an ideal solution – our online GAA Performance Plans provide everything required for a successful pre-season of Conditioning, Strength, Power & Speed development. Find out more here!

– For full squad solutions check out our team services page or drop us a line to schedule a call with a member of our team.



Conor Finn is the Managing Director and Lead Performance Specialist at AXSOM Sports. Currently the Head of Strength & Conditioning for the Mayo Senior Football team, he has worked with numerous high performing teams and athletes over the past 10 years

Psychological Resilience in Sport

Psychological Resilience in Sport

Think of the physical preparation that goes into an athletes performance; nutrition, sleep, strength training, recovery, rehabilitation are just a few. Ask, is mental performance receiving the adequate amount of time and dedication that it should be in comparison to the physical preparation, and if not, why?

read more
Movement Skills – Acceleration

Movement Skills – Acceleration

There are many elements to enhancing speed, no one training method holds the key. Rather it is a combination of components that result in greatest improvements. For example, developing specific strength qualities, is one of the most effective ways to increase the power necessary for maximal sprinting. However unless an athlete first focuses on movement, and in turn movement skills, they may struggle to maximise the results from their efforts in other areas.

read more
Movement Prep

Movement Prep

The purpose of any physical preparation routine should be to optimise performance in the upcoming session or competition, while decreasing the risk of injury.
Traditional warm-ups have typically included light aerobic movement followed by static stretching, and while this approach is successful in raising body temperature, it does not contribute significantly towards reducing injury risk, and certainly not towards optimising performance.

read more

Training Variables – Part 1

The amount of weight an athlete lifts in an exercise, relative to the 1 repetition maximum (1RM) for the same exercise, determines how much tension a muscle produces and the number of motor units recruited. These are two hugely important factors in strength development.
Unfortunately, there is a trade off between the intensity, and the overall volume that is possible in a given workout. Which of these is prioritised (intensity or volume) at a particular stage of a performance plan, is decided primarily by the training objective.

Classifying Strength Qualities

Strength is one of the most popular components which athletes will look to develop in a performance plan. However, the exact strength qualities they require is usually unknown to them, and researching can lead to further confusion.
This article will aim to classify some of the main strength qualities and present examples for each. The strength quality in which an athlete seeks to develop dictates almost all training variables including frequency, reps, sets, tempo, intensity and even rest.


At AXSOM, when we register a new athlete or client for programming, one of the first things we require is a movement assessment. This is no different with our online clients, in fact, when combined with a coach-athlete dialogue and our on-boarding questionnaires, we have found our digital movement pattern assessment to be just as effective as our in-person screening. With this option, an athlete simply follows a step by step process of performing basic movement patterns, usually right from their home. Each movement is recorded & uploaded easily from a mobile device, all from within our online portal. This process allows our coaching staff to carefully assess each pattern for compensations, restrictions and limitations, and to make purposeful & precise training decisions.