IMPROVING AEROBIC EFFICIENCY WITHOUT BORING YOURSELF TO DEATH

IMPROVING AEROBIC EFFICIENCY WITHOUT BORING YOURSELF TO DEATH

We know from the last post that steady-state aerobic training leads to very specific heart adaptations.  These changes improve efficiency, making the cardiovascular systems better able to deliver energy and buffer fatigue during high-intensity and low-intensity exercises.  They also aid in speeding up the recovery process between training sessions.

In today’s post, we’ll show you some ways to improve your aerobic training without logging endless miles on the treadmill or elliptical machine.

But first, let’s help you determine how efficiently your cardio system is currently working. Here are three variables to consider and a few ways to test your system.

Variables

By nature, endurance activities like running and cycling involve highly repetitive movements that take place in a single plane of movement: forward.  These patterns heavily recruit the hip flexors and quadriceps, which leads to a predictable pattern of overuse and overload.   

Short, tight quadriceps and hip flexors act to pull the lower spine forward, increase anterior—forward—tilt of the pelvis, and push the rib cage up and forward.

Intensity

For our purposes, steady state cardio can be any activity that keeps your heart rate in the range of 120-150 beats per minute.  The best way to keep track of your heart rate during exercise is with a heart rate monitor.  Heart rate monitors that use chest straps are more accurate than wrist-based monitors.

If you don’t have access to a heart rate monitor, the next best thing is the Talk Test.  Limit your intensity to a level that allows you to carry on a conversation during the workout.  The rule of thumb is that you should be able to talk but not to sing.

Duration

To get the most benefit from your aerobic work, you should aim for 30-90 minutes of activity in your target heart rate zone.  If you don’t have much of an aerobic base to start, begin with 30 minutes and progressively add time.

Frequency

Determining how often to perform steady-state aerobic work versus higher intensity training should be based on your baseline aerobic fitness levels.

Here are three tests to help determine baseline aerobic fitness:

  1. Resting Heart Rate
  2. Modified Cooper Test
  3. 60-second Heart Rate Recovery

To obtain resting heart rate data, record your heart rate first thing in the morning.  Generally speaking, you should aim for a resting heart rate of 60bpm or less.

For the Modified Cooper Test, use a treadmill or bike to run/bike as far as you can in 6-minutes.  Record your heart rate at the end of each minute during the test and note the total distance you covered for re-testing purposes.  A good working average should be in the 170-180bpm range.

At the end of the Modified Cooper Test, sit down and record how far your heart rate drops after 60 seconds of rest.  The goal is to get your heart rate down as close to pre-exercise levels as quickly as possible.

You should aim for a 25-35% decrease in heart rate.  For example, if your average heart rate was 180bpm, you should aim to be in the 118-135bpm range after 60 seconds.

If your assessment scores are low, prioritize steady-state work over pure strength training or other higher intensity forms of exercise.  You should aim for at least 3-4 sessions a week lasting 30-90 minutes.

If some of your scores are higher than others, aim for 1-3, 30-minute to 60-minute sessions per week .

If your scores are already high, and you want to maintain the aerobic adaptations you already have, shoot for 1-2 sessions a week lasting 30-45 minutes.

Workouts

One of the largest misconception about steady-state cardio is that it must be done on the elliptical machine, incline walking on the treadmill, or pounding the pavement in a long slow jog.

The truth is that any exercise that keeps your heart chugging along between 120-150bpms and is sustainable for at least 20 minutes is fair game for inclusion in a cardio program.

Here are three ideas:

Manual Labor Circuit

  1. Sled Push x 20-yards
  2. Single Arm Carry Left x 40-yards
  3. Sled Pull x 20-yards
  4. Single Arm Carry R x 40-yards
  5. Alternating Med Ball Slam x 6/side
  6. Alternating Walking Lunge x 6/side

*Perform all exercises at an intensity that doesn’t significantly raise blood pressure

**Monitor your HR between exercises to ensure it’s between 120-150bpms, rest only as much as you need to between exercises and rounds

***Repeat the circuit for a total of 30-60 minutes of total steady-state work

Mobility Circuit

  1. Row, Run, or Bike x 5-minutes
  2. Alternating Spiderman Lunge with Rotation 2 x 5/side
  3. Alternating Side Lunge 2 x 5/side
  4. All Four Thoracic Rotation 2 x10/side
  5. Row, Run, or Bike x 5-minutes
  6. UB Windmill x 10/side
  7. Straight Leg Adductor Mobilization x 10/side
  8. Ankle Glide at Wall x 10/side
  9. Row, Run, Bike x 5-minutes

*Monitor your HR between exercises to ensure it’s between 120-150bpms, rest only as much as you need to between rounds

**Repeat the circuit for a total of 30-60 minutes of total steady-state work

Body Weight Circuit

  1. Bodyweight Squat x 10
  2. Push-Ups x 5
  3. Single Leg RDL x 10/side
  4. Jumping Jacks x 10
  5. Row, Run, or Bike x 5-minutes
  6. Alternating Forward Lunge x 10/side
  7. TRX Row x 10
  8. Step-Up x 10/side
  9. Jumping Jacks x 10
  10. Row, Run, or Bike 5-minutes

*Monitor your HR between exercises to ensure it’s between 120-150bpms, rest only as much as you need to between rounds

**Repeat the circuit for a total of 30-60 minutes of total steady-state work

IMPROVING AEROBIC EFFICIENCY WITHOUT BORING YOURSELF TO DEATH

We know from the last post that steady-state aerobic training leads to very specific heart adaptations.  These changes improve efficiency, making the cardiovascular systems better able to deliver energy and buffer fatigue during high-intensity and low-intensity exercises.  They also aid in speeding up the recovery process between training sessions.

In today’s post, we’ll show you some ways to improve your aerobic training without logging endless miles on the treadmill or elliptical machine.

But first, let’s help you determine how efficiently your cardio system is currently working. Here are three variables to consider and a few ways to test your system.

Variables

By nature, endurance activities like running and cycling involve highly repetitive movements that take place in a single plane of movement: forward.  These patterns heavily recruit the hip flexors and quadriceps, which leads to a predictable pattern of overuse and overload.   

Short, tight quadriceps and hip flexors act to pull the lower spine forward, increase anterior—forward—tilt of the pelvis, and push the rib cage up and forward.

Intensity

For our purposes, steady state cardio can be any activity that keeps your heart rate in the range of 120-150 beats per minute.  The best way to keep track of your heart rate during exercise is with a heart rate monitor.  Heart rate monitors that use chest straps are more accurate than wrist-based monitors.

If you don’t have access to a heart rate monitor, the next best thing is the Talk Test.  Limit your intensity to a level that allows you to carry on a conversation during the workout.  The rule of thumb is that you should be able to talk but not to sing.

Duration

To get the most benefit from your aerobic work, you should aim for 30-90 minutes of activity in your target heart rate zone.  If you don’t have much of an aerobic base to start, begin with 30 minutes and progressively add time.

Frequency

Determining how often to perform steady-state aerobic work versus higher intensity training should be based on your baseline aerobic fitness levels.

Here are three tests to help determine baseline aerobic fitness:

  1. Resting Heart Rate
  2. Modified Cooper Test
  3. 60-second Heart Rate Recovery

To obtain resting heart rate data, record your heart rate first thing in the morning.  Generally speaking, you should aim for a resting heart rate of 60bpm or less.

For the Modified Cooper Test, use a treadmill or bike to run/bike as far as you can in 6-minutes.  Record your heart rate at the end of each minute during the test and note the total distance you covered for re-testing purposes.  A good working average should be in the 170-180bpm range.

At the end of the Modified Cooper Test, sit down and record how far your heart rate drops after 60 seconds of rest.  The goal is to get your heart rate down as close to pre-exercise levels as quickly as possible.

You should aim for a 25-35% decrease in heart rate.  For example, if your average heart rate was 180bpm, you should aim to be in the 118-135bpm range after 60 seconds.

If your assessment scores are low, prioritize steady-state work over pure strength training or other higher intensity forms of exercise.  You should aim for at least 3-4 sessions a week lasting 30-90 minutes.

If some of your scores are higher than others, aim for 1-3, 30-minute to 60-minute sessions per week .

If your scores are already high, and you want to maintain the aerobic adaptations you already have, shoot for 1-2 sessions a week lasting 30-45 minutes.

Workouts

One of the largest misconception about steady-state cardio is that it must be done on the elliptical machine, incline walking on the treadmill, or pounding the pavement in a long slow jog.

The truth is that any exercise that keeps your heart chugging along between 120-150bpms and is sustainable for at least 20 minutes is fair game for inclusion in a cardio program.

Here are three ideas:

Manual Labor Circuit

  1. Sled Push x 20-yards
  2. Single Arm Carry Left x 40-yards
  3. Sled Pull x 20-yards
  4. Single Arm Carry R x 40-yards
  5. Alternating Med Ball Slam x 6/side
  6. Alternating Walking Lunge x 6/side

*Perform all exercises at an intensity that doesn’t significantly raise blood pressure

**Monitor your HR between exercises to ensure it’s between 120-150bpms, rest only as much as you need to between exercises and rounds

***Repeat the circuit for a total of 30-60 minutes of total steady-state work

Mobility Circuit

  1. Row, Run, or Bike x 5-minutes
  2. Alternating Spiderman Lunge with Rotation 2 x 5/side
  3. Alternating Side Lunge 2 x 5/side
  4. All Four Thoracic Rotation 2 x10/side
  5. Row, Run, or Bike x 5-minutes
  6. UB Windmill x 10/side
  7. Straight Leg Adductor Mobilization x 10/side
  8. Ankle Glide at Wall x 10/side
  9. Row, Run, Bike x 5-minutes

*Monitor your HR between exercises to ensure it’s between 120-150bpms, rest only as much as you need to between rounds

**Repeat the circuit for a total of 30-60 minutes of total steady-state work

Body Weight Circuit

  1. Bodyweight Squat x 10
  2. Push-Ups x 5
  3. Single Leg RDL x 10/side
  4. Jumping Jacks x 10
  5. Row, Run, or Bike x 5-minutes
  6. Alternating Forward Lunge x 10/side
  7. TRX Row x 10
  8. Step-Up x 10/side
  9. Jumping Jacks x 10
  10. Row, Run, or Bike 5-minutes

*Monitor your HR between exercises to ensure it’s between 120-150bpms, rest only as much as you need to between rounds

**Repeat the circuit for a total of 30-60 minutes of total steady-state work

2017-11-03T10:22:42+00:00

About the Author:

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Adam Vogel is the founder of Pure Performance Training. He is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through the International Sports Science Association, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a certified Functional Movement Screening Specialist (FMS), and Level 1 (KBC) Kettlebell Instructor.