Common methods for training include periodization, intervals, hard easy, long slow distance, and in recent years Tabata intervals. The periodization method is very common and was accredited to Tudor Bompa and consists of blocks of time, generally 4–12 weeks each. The blocks are called preparation, base, build, and race. The goal of a structured training program with periodization is to bring the athlete into peak fitness at the time of a big race or event. Preparation as the name suggests lays the groundwork for heavier work to follow. For a runner contemplating a competitive marathon the preparation phase might consist of easier runs of 1–4 miles 3-4 times per week and including 2–3 days of core strengthening. In the base phase the athlete now works on building cardiovascular endurance by having several long runs staying in heart rate zone 1-2 every week and each week adding slightly more mileage (using 10% rule for safely increasing the mileage). Core strengthening is continued in the base period. Once the base phase is complete and the athlete has sufficient endurance, the build period is needed to give the athlete the ability to hold a faster pace for the race duration. The build phase is where duration of runs is traded for intensity or heart rate zones 3-5. An easy method to obtain intensity is Interval training and interval training starts to happen in the build phase. Through interval training during the build phase the athlete can achieve higher Lactate Threshold and in some athletes VO2 max is increased. Because interval training is demanding on the body, a professional coach should be consulted. In the very least the athlete should do a warm up and active stretching before the interval session and static stretch or yoga after hard interval sessions. It is also advisable to have days of rest or easy workouts the day after interval sessions. Finally the race phase of the periodization approach is where the duration of the workouts decreases but intense workouts remain so as to keep the high lactate threshold that was gained in the build phase. In Ironman training, the race phase is where a long “taper” occurs of up to 4 weeks for highly trained Ironman racers. A final phase is designated transition and is a period of time, where the body is allowed to recover from the hard race effort and some maintenance endurance training is performed so the high fitness level attained in the previous periods will not be lost.
The author is just an ordinary man with a 9 to 5 job. He happens to be a physical fitness enthusiast and the sports and training methods he practises are weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, circuit training, interval training, track and field, gymnastics, martial arts and swimming.
To achieve true fitness any exercise programme should include these three essential components – namely, strength training, endurance and stamina training and flexibility training. What is endurance and stamina? The two words usually mean the same thing and a simple definition would be this: “The ability to undergo a prolonged period of physical exertion without undue stress or exhaustion.” Endurance and stamina can be achieved by two very popular training methods, namely Circuit training and Interval training. What exactly is circuit training?
The Heart rate monitor is one of the relatively easy methods to assess fitness in endurance athletes. By comparing heart rate over time fitness gains can be observed when the heart rate decreases for running or cycling at a given speed. In cycling the effect of wind on the cyclists speed is difficult to subtract out and so many cyclists now use power meters built into their bicycles. The Power meter allows the athlete to actually measure power output over a set duration or course and allows direct comparison of fitness progression. In the 2008 Olympics Michael Phelps was aided by repeated Lactate Threshold measurement. This allowed his coaches to fine tune his training program so that he could recover between swim events that were sometimes several minutes apart. Much similar to blood glucose for diabetes, lower priced lactate measurement devices are now available but in general the lactate measurement approach is still the domain of the professional coach and elite athlete.
There�s been a lot of buzz recently about Interval Training. So, you may be wondering what it really is and, more importantly, why you should incorporate it in your fitness workouts. Well, if you want a workout that can help propel you to the next fitness level, burn more calories, increase your speed, improve your power and more, then it�s time to learn more about this effective technique.
A simple definition of Interval Training is: short, high-intensity exercise periods alternated with periods of rest. These higher and lower intensity periods are repeated several times to form a complete workout . Here�s a basic example: walk for 5 minutes at 3.5 MPH, walk for 1 minute at 4.2 MPH and then repeat this sequence several times.
Most people spend their workout time only performing continuous training exercises. These are exercises where the intensity level is basically constant throughout. An example of this is walking at 3.5 MPH, at 0% incline for 30 minutes.
Continuous training is very effective and should not be eliminated from your weekly workouts. However, it�s recommended that you include both Interval Training and continuous training sessions as part of your fitness regimen.
Why should you include Interval Training? As previously mentioned, there are many benefits to this type of training and execution is relatively simple. Interval Training can help you improve cardiovascular fitness, increase speed, improve overall aerobic power, burn more calories, break-through a plateau, increase workout duration, reach new exercise levels, expand your workout options and increase your workout threshold � just to name a few.
Plus, this training method has useful applications for beginners, intermediate exercisers and even conditioned athletes. There are two basic types of Interval Training. For the majority of exercisers (novices and intermediate) Fitness Interval Training methods are recommended. Athletes can choose a more advanced technique known as Performance Interval Training.
The Fitness training method utilizes periodic increases in intensity. Typically the higher-intensity levels range from 2-5 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity periods that also range from 2-5 minutes. And, a critical element in Fitness Interval Training is determining the appropriate level for the higher-intensity periods. This level should not exceed the anaerobic threshold (which is usually reached below 85% heart rate reserve).
On the flip side, the Performance training technique involves periods of near maximal or even maximal intensity (e.g. >85% heart rate reserve � even reaching 100%). The higher-intensity levels can range from 2-15 minutes in duration and are followed by lower-intensity periods that also can range from 2-15 minutes in duration.
Don�t let the two types of training and their ranges confuse you. Incorporating Interval Training methods into your exercise routine is actually quite easy. Since the majority of exercisers fall into either the beginner or intermediate category, we�ll focus on getting started with those techniques.
To begin, choose the type of exercise: walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc. Next determine your lower-intensity level. This is usually somewhere between 50-65% target heart rate. This will be your baseline, lower-level intensity. Then simply increase the intensity-level up to where you feel like you are working hard to very hard, but avoid reaching a level over 85% target heart rate. If monitoring your heart is not feasible, instead use the RPE scale where 1 is basically at rest and 10 is working extremely hard. For example, if you find that when you are exercising at a comfortable level you rank a 5, then bump up to a 7 for the higher-intensity intervals.
You may choose to systematically raise and lower your intensity (e.g. 2 minutes lower intensity followed by 1 minute higher intensity and repeat) or you can alternate more randomly by raising and lowering the level at your discretion. To increase your intensity, you may choose to change the speed, incline, or some other variable.
Interval Training can be especially helpful in situations where you are trying a new form of exercise. For example, this can be very beneficial when first learning to jog. If you attempt to jog continuously without building up to it, you will probably fatigue quickly and even give up. However, if you begin with intervals of walking interspersed with jogging periods, the workout will be much more enjoyable and effective. Also, you will be more likely to stick with the program and achieve the end result � continuous jogging.
Now that you know the benefits of Interval Training and the basic techniques for it, why not give it a try for yourself. Not only will it provide health benefits and improved fitness levels but it is also a great way to avoid workout boredom. Plus, with Interval Training workouts often are more enjoyable, go by quicker, and improvement results come faster. So why not try spicing up a stale, run-of-the-mill workout with Interval options? You may even find yourself excelling in an activity you were skeptical of even trying.
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