Building an Aerobic Base: Steady State Training

3 min read
Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Last post we focused on the F.I.T.T. (Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type) principle and building an aerobic base.  This post will expand on the value of building an aerobic base and present several training examples.  We will also cover the fitness principle of progression and make suggestions on how you can successfully progress your fitness program.

Building an aerobic base means improving your body's ability to take in and utilize oxygen effectively and efficiently. A safer and more affective way to do this is by utilizing an accurate wearable like the MZ-3. Your cardiorespiratory system needs to be challenged at an appropriate intensity in order for your aerobic fitness to improve.  In percentage of maximum heart rate (MHR), the minimum intensity required to build fitness is 50-55% of MHR (gray zone).  There are numerous benefits to building your aerobic base, a few of which are:

  • Decreased fatigue in daily activities like work and recreation
  • Decreased resting heart rate (more efficient heart, lungs, and blood vessels)
  • Decreased risk of chronic diseases such as coronary artery disease (CAD) and hypertension
  • Improved ability to use fat as a fuel source; more efficient fat burning
  • Improved ability to transport blood, oxygen, and nutrients to working muscles and to clear metabolic byproducts (i.e. lactic acid)
  • Improved glucose tolerance
  • Improved immune function
  • Improved body composition (decrease in body fat)
  • Improved well-being

Steady state training is a great way to build your aerobic foundation.  During steady state training, exercise intensity stays within the same range for the duration of your workout.  For example, when you are first starting a fitness program, working in the blue and green zones (between 60-79% MHR) for 20-30 minutes per move is a solid steady state workout.  Performing five of those 20-30 minute steady state workouts in the blue and green zones would put you at the recommended accumulation of cardiorespiratory exercise per week.

If you have already established an aerobic base, and are an intermediate or advanced exerciser using an accurate wearable, you can still benefit from steady state training.  You can challenge yourself to hold the yellow and red zones for an extended duration of 20-30 minutes or more.  This gets into tempo/pace training, which we will cover next month.

Progression is a key principle to the success of your fitness program.  There are many ways to determine when it is time to progress your fitness program.  One method is to monitor your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) relative to your heart rate.  RPE is your subjective interpretation of the overall intensity of your exercise effort.  Typically, a scale of 1-10 is used with 1 indicating the intensity you feel when sitting in a chair and 10 indicating the intensity you feel when exerting maximal effort.  Most workouts should range between a 3-7 on the RPE scale.  If you notice that you are able to keep your heart rate in the blue and green zones and experience a decrease in your RPE as your fitness improves, it is time to progress your program.  Another method is to progress your routine every two to four weeks.

Conservative progression is the key to a sustainable fitness program!  Select one element from the F.I.T.T. principle to progress when it is time to make changes.  For example, you can choose to increase the frequency of your workouts (the number of times you move during the week), or the intensity of your workouts (the effort you put forth during each workout).  Other options are to increase the time (duration) of your workouts or to change the type (mode) of exercise you are performing.  You can keep your workout routine fresh and exciting by progressing different elements each time you feel you are ready to make a change.

We would love to see what you are doing.  When you complete a workout, post it to Facebook or Twitter and use the hashtags: #myzonemoves #steadystatetraining #progression.  Next post, tempo/pace training and periodization are the topics.  Enjoy your steady state training and build your aerobic base! 

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