How Do You Know If You’re In Really Good Shape?

Most people believe that longer endurance training will yield superior results when it comes to overall fitness such as a more efficient cardiovascular system and greater fat loss.  It’s been proven that long slow “cardio” can actually strip your body of lean body mass slowing metabolism, thus creating efficient long term solution to staying lean.

When it comes to creating more efficient heart and lung capacity, those long duration runs or rides might not be as beneficial as you may think. For one, injury rates in runners are extremely high, as noted by a group of Harvard Medical Researchers that was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.  50% of those who take up running end up injured.

Sending you out on the road to try to get in better shape puts you at an immediate disadvantage when it comes to sustaining injury free workouts.  There’s also a time element involved.  If you could yield the same or better cardiovascular benefits in less then 1/2 the time (while minimizing injury) why wouldn’t you be willing to give it a try?

In 2006 researchers reported in The Journal of Physiology that shorter work intervals (2 minutes of total work) yielded the same improvement in oxygen utilization as did continuous moderate intensity exercise.

Researchers compared 30sec. all out bike sprints with 4 minutes of rest for a total combined time of 20 minutes against 45-60 minutes of continuous activity 1 hr/ week.

The result:  The same improvement in Vo2 max (which is the standard measure of fitness and the ability of the body to utilize oxygen) were the same with both group.

Since this landmark research there have been multiple studies showing shorter higher intensity bouts of exercise can yield the same, if not better cardiovascular results.

The less time you need to get fit, you decrease your chances for an overuse injury. If you want to make your exercise more efficient, get great results in cardiovascular fitness and fat loss then you need to rethink what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

Think About it:

Why Perform Steady-State Aerobic Training? 

50% of people who take up distance running get injured

The aerobic/running boom in the 80’s created the “sports physical therapist.”

The endurance training cycle goes something like this 

train—->injury—->rehab/PT—->

The High Carb – Low Fat Diet basically caused a diabetes epidemic because people took it to the extreme.  We were supposed to be consuming more carbs from fruits and veggies and less animal fat but still the right information was taken incorrectly.

How Do You Know if  someone even needs more aerobic work?

If you have a resting heart rate over 60 BPM and you have an increase in HR of more than 6 BPM between intervals as well as poor 1 and 2 min recovery.  For example, if you need more then 30 BPM recovery in one minute, 50 BPM to recover in two minutes.

Since there is a relationship between heart rate and oxygen consumption (Vo2) it has been traditionally known that exercise prescription is based on a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR) (220-age).  For example a 40 year old with a MHR of 180 training at 80% intensity would be looking at a HR of 144 beats per minute (bpm)

The problem with using this method is that it doesn’t account for the persons resting HR.  The lower the resting HR the better overall fitness level.

Here’s a more accurate way to determine a better starting point.  The Karvonen formula uses your HR reserve to calculate your training zone based on both maximum AND resting HR.

Find your true heart rate reserve using the Karvonen formula:

(Max HR – Resting HR) x % + Resting HR = Target HR

Follow this simple example from the information above (40 yr. old male) adding in a resting HR of 68 bpm.

180 – 68 = 112 (x 80%) = 90 + 68 = 158 bpm.

It’s worth mentioning that using the Karvonen method usually calculates a slightly higher target HR.  Take your own information and plug it into the Karvonen formula so see where you are

In the next post we will cover how to use your actual training HR to help improve your overall conditioning.

Looking for some motivation?

 

 

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