There are many exercise methods to improve your aerobic fitness. But the most important factor to consider is starting slow and gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your exercise routine. Strive for a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderately intense exercise. This will help your body adjust and adapt to exercise building an “aerobic base”. After you have built an aerobic base, adding intervals into your routine will further increase your aerobic fitness. Interval training combines short bursts of high intensity exercise (such as a sprint) with moderate/low intensity exercise (slow jog). Since your workouts are getting longer and more intense, it will be equally important to rest and recuperate between workouts to help your body recover and minimize the risk of injury.
In order to increase your aerobic fitness, it is important to increase the intensity of your aerobic workouts. Depending upon how many days per week you include an aerobic workout, you may want to have one day that you spend in the 65-75% maximum heart rate range. The formula for calculating your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.
There are basically three Cardio Training Zones.
– Zone 1 is 65-75% of your maximum heart rate,
– Zone 2 is 80-89%, and
– Zone 3 is 90-92%.
Here is a 3 day per week example:
You may spend cardio day 1 of your week in Zone 1. Cardio Days 2 & 3 of your week, you will want to perform intervals by starting out slowly for approximately 5 minutes to warmup. Then move into Zone 2 for a couple of minutes, then back down to Zone 1, then possibly up to Zone 3 for 30 seconds, and so on. The intensity and duration of the intervals is based upon your current cardio conditioning level. Its best to check with your doctor first, then work with a personal trainer in order to ensure you are working at the proper intensity in order to reach your goals.
The bottom line for improving aerobic fitness is to perform activity that is consistent and maintain a heart rate or level of exertion that makes it difficult to talk for long periods of time. Three programs you can use improve your fitness are as follows:
1. Beginner: Cardio Equipment- Pick a piece of cardio equipment, preferably a treadmill as they utilize many muscles at once, and a walking speed that is moderately difficult. WARM UP for 3 min at an easy to moderate speed. Then increase your speed to your WORK ZONE speed, which is the speed that makes it difficult to talk for an extended period of time and/or noticeably increases your breathing rate. Walk at this speed for 25 minutes. COOL DOWN for 2 min at your original warm up speed for a total of 30 minutes. Do this 3-4 times per week.
2. Intermediate: Cardio Equipment – Pick a piece of cardio equipment that you can easily change the level of resistance or speed and perform the following program 3-5 times per week.
(TREADMILL USED): After your warm up, proceed through Zones A-C: THREE TO FIVE TIMES depending on your fitness level. Maintain a tall, straight posture, with a firm belly and butt.
1. Warm Up: Slow Walk, approx 2.8 mph, 0% Incline, 2 min
2. Increase your speed to Zone A: Moderate Walk , 2.0-3.0 mph , 0% Incline, 3 min
3. Zone B: Moderate Incline Walk, 2.2-3.2mph, 3-4% Incline, 2 min
4. Zone C: Jog, 4.0-5.5 mph, 0% Incline, 1 min
REPEAT ZONES A THROUGH C: 3- 5 TIMES
Cool Down: Walk, 2.5 mph, 0% Incline, 3 min
3. Advanced: Resistance Training – The following is a resistance training circuit that will help to improve aerobic fitness on its own or in combination with one of the programs above or another strength training program:
1. 20 Body Weight Squats
2. 20 Cable Rotations (10 each side)
3. 10 Knee Push Ups
4. 20 Cable Rows
5. 20 Box Step Ups (each leg)
Perform all exercises down the list without rest in between—- REST 45 seconds after all 5 exercises are performed —— REPEAT 2-3 times.
Good luck and have fun!!