Aerobic Exercise is a necessity for a healthy lifestyle.

Aerobic exercise is essential but people get it wrong in both directions.

Aerobic Exercise is important... but don't be a treadmill zombie!

The possibilities in aerobic exercise probably generate more unnecessary “debates” than any other single fitness concept. But make no mistake, a properly programmed cardio workout program is essential to physical fitness and doing it right is easy.

But don’t be That Guy ===>

The latest research show that there’s alot of research into aerobic exercise.

One of the things that most annoys me about my profession is trainers who make bold absolutist statements about anything. They’ll find some study that backs up their point of view and proclaim it to be gospel. Then another trainer will find another study that shows the exact opposite conclusion. To me, these aggressive, absolutist statements are usually made to make a splash so the trainer gets people to pay attention to them. The argument of cardio exercise vs weight training for fat burning workouts is just ridiculous. BOTH are useful and to me BOTH are necessary. However, both types of workout do need to be programmed correctly to maximize effectiveness and efficiency.

The most important thing to establish is your goal. Why are you doing aerobic exercise? Is it for the general health benefits? Are you doing it to change your body composition; in other words, to lose fat? Are you training for a specific event or sport? How you program your cardio workouts is determined by your goals.

Sometimes the goals can be combined. For example, you consider yourself out of shape of overweight. You want to slim down and are a goal oriented person so you decide to train for a 5K, 10K or half marathon thinking it will help you get in shape and drop the unwanted pounds. To that I say: “Good for you! Great idea!” Some trainers who are in the weight training only camp would dismiss what you’re doing as ineffective. But motivation matters more even more than proper programming. If you need an external goal as a reference point to motivate you to “do it”, then DO IT! Oh, but do weight training too.

Cardiovascular training isn’t just about burning fat.

The definition of cardiovascular from Reference.com:

  • of, pertaining to, or affecting the heart and blood vessels.

The definition of aerobic exercise from Reference.com:

  • any of various sustained exercises; such as jogging, rowing, swimming, or cycling; that stimulate and strengthen the heart and lungs, thereby improving the body’s utilization of oxygen.

Neither of those definition mention fat. Burning fat is almost a byproduct of a cardio workout. What if you don’t have much body fat? Should you not do aerobic exercise? Of course you should, because the benefits for the heart, lungs and blood vessels still exists.

Interval training is the most effective way to plan your cardio workouts.

Pay attention, treadmill zombies.
There is a training principle called “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands”. That means that if you continue to do the same thing, your body gets used to it and it becomes easier. This is a good thing. Without it, you’d never be able to increase your weights when lifting or increase your distance when running. But its a bad thing for your doing aerobic exercise. For the fitness benefits to your heart & lungs or to change your body composition, you don’t want your body to get used to the workouts. Otherwise you’ll have to continuously increase effort or time in order to get the same level of benefit.

In other words… if you’re sweating your butt off doing the elliptical at it’s highest resistance for one hour every day for the last year… YEAH! You’re burning fat! You’re challenging your body and nervous system. NOT.

To maintain the effectiveness of your workouts, you need to continuously challenge your body & nervous system by changing how you’re doing your workouts. The most effective method for this is Heart Rate Zone based Interval Training (HRZT).

In HRZT, you’ll manage your workout by keeping track of your heart rate and shifting your effort to get your heart rate into different zones in various time intervals. For example, you may do a workout where you work in Zone 1 for 2 minutes then move up to Zone 2 for 1 minute, then repeat this cycle a number of times, dependent on the amount of time you have to workout.

The way I have programmed the workouts available below, you’ll use one set of zones per week and change the set of zones every week. By changing your workout this way, your body will never acclimate to the workout and each workout will be fresh information to your nervous system.

The aerobic exercise programs available below all contain the information you need to determine your approximate Maximal Heart Rate, from which you’ll determine your 4 heart rate zones. Obviously you’ll also need a way to keep track of your heart rate. If you’re using indoor cardio equipment (treadmill, stair steppers, ellipticals, etc), almost all modern equipment comes with the ability to gather your heart rate when your wear a Polar heart rate monitor strap. So your first step is to purchase the Polar T31 Transmitter.

Try the whichever workout below seems appropriate for your level of fitness.

After 4 weeks, come on back and use the comments below to let me know how you liked it, how it made you feel and how easy it was to implement.

Building Heart Rate Zone Training

This program is designed for those who are currently deconditioned and are starting on the road to strong heart & lung health.

Fitness Heart Rate Zone Training

If you’re feeling like you’re in shape but don’t have an effective and efficient way to plan your cardio workouts, this one is for you.

Performance Heart Rate Zone Training

For when you’re ready to take it up to the next level and push your heart & lungs (& legs!) up to a higher level of conditioning.
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