How the Yo Yo can test your CV endurance

Hey Mircea!

We are well and truly into the second half of the football season here in Europe and most of the domestic leagues across the continent are really starting to take shape. It is becoming clearer which teams are likely to be contesting for success, and which teams will be battling to save themselves from a drop into a lower division.

In England, the title race looks to be between three, maybe four teams but the relegation race is still open to about 10 clubs. It’s a very long season and in the last couple of months, it turns into a real battle of attrition. The 100m sprint is often described as a race to see who slows down the least and the football season is somewhat similar; which team is able to maintain their performances as close to their peak for as long as possible.

This part of the season is where the extent and the quality of the pre-season starts to really tell. Primarily, soccer is an endurance sport. Whilst the games defining moments are most often explosive (shot, jump, sprint, tackle and the like), it’s the ability to perform these actions repeatedly that is the real benefit of having a solid aerobic base.

During an average game, an elite-level soccer player will run up to about 13km at an intensity close to their lactate threshold. This is why the aerobic engine (which we can assess using VO2max testing) is said to be the single most important factor in determining success in sports like soccer. In fact, a direct correlation between VO2max and final league position has been demonstrated in elite soccer. Sports like rugby, Australian Rules Footy and hockey are very similar in their requirements of excellent cardiovascular endurance.

"To be honest, most of the players hate doing them, but in a perverse way they enjoy pushing themselves to the limit"

I use the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test and the Maximum Aerobic Speed (MAS) Test as a means of evaluating my players’ CV endurance. Both have been designed to evaluate the ability to perform high intensity intermittent exercise, which is perfect in team sports where constant speed running is not really a feature of the game. There are 2 versions of the Yo-Yo test. The first one (Yo-Yo IR1) starts at a much reduced intensity and the second (Yo-Yo IR2) is a bit more advanced. Both are correlated with the amount of high intensity running completed during a soccer match.

The beauty of the MAS test is that the results give you a direct method of training prescription. This has been shown to dramatically improve aerobic power in soccer, rugby league and Australian Rules Football.

To be honest, most of the players hate doing them. They are hard, there’s no denying it, but the results that we’ve had are fantastic and in a perverse way, the players enjoy pushing themselves to the limit, something that these drills require.

Next week, we’ll have a look at the link between strength and running.

'Til then, stay robust, amigos!


David Joyce

Injury and Performance Consultant at Galatasaray FC. Holds a Masters in Sports Physiotherapy and a Masters in Strength and Conditioning. He also lectures on the MSc in Sports Physio course at the University of Bath.


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Articles and Downloads

Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test

The "Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test" is similar to the Yo-Yo Endurance Test, except the athlete has a short active 10 second break. ( is a partner site of Peak Performance.)

To learn about fitness tests, including endurance, strength, balance, agility and more, check out one of our bestselling titles, 101 Performance Evaluation Tests by clicking here.

How to monitor your endurance levels

Endurance is the ability for an athlete to exert themselves for a long period of time through aerobic or anaerobic exercise. In this free download, we show you how to monitor your endurance levels in order to ensure they are not in decline.

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