If you’re interested in the reasons behind the things you do in the gym, taking a dive into sports physiology can be fascinating.
The science side of sport isn’t for everyone, but it can be really useful to have a basic understanding of the adaptations that take place in your body.
Knowing what you’re getting out of your sessions can be a good motivating tool to keep you on track.
A key term for anyone who wants to get better aerobic fitness and endurance is stroke volume.
Here, Built for Athletes takes a look at what stroke volume actually is and how you can improve it to boost your performance.
What Is Stroke Volume?
As you probably learnt in your school biology lessons, the heart pushes blood to muscles and organs around the body.
The heart has four chambers and the left ventricle is the chamber that pumps blood out.
Stroke volume is the total volume of blood the left ventricle can pump out with each beat.
How Does Stroke Volume Affect Exercise
Blood transports oxygen to fuel the working muscles.
The burning sensation you get in your muscles that causes you to stop exercising is caused by a lack of oxygen.
If you can pump more blood with each beat of your heart, you will be able to hold high intensities of exercise for longer.
You’ll also be able to cruise along at lower heart rates when doing endurance activities like running, cycling, swimming or rowing.
How Can You Improve Stroke Volume
Luckily the heart is a muscle so it can change shape and become more efficient with training.
There are two ways that you can increase your stroke volume.
The first is making the left ventricle bigger.
In each heartbeat, the left ventricle fills with blood before pumping it out. So if it becomes bigger and can hold more blood, it can pump more out with each beat.
You can build the size of the left ventricle through building lots of time doing any kind of steady-state cardio.
The second way is to make the wall of the left ventricle thicker.
Like any muscle, the left ventricle will become thicker and stronger when you work it at high intensities, and when it’s stronger it can pump blood out with more force.
Build the thickness of your left ventricle by doing high-intensity aerobic intervals or resistance training.
These types of exercise force the heart to work hard and pump with high forces.