This is the fourth installment of a five-post series on aerobic endurance training.
Once you’ve chosen an activity, there are a few techniques you can use to add some variety to your aerobic endurance program.
Let’s start where we left off in Part 3: cross-training.
One way to mix up your aerobic endurance exercise is to cross-train. Cross-training incorporates more than one activity on a regular basis.
Athletes often cross-train as a means to improve conditioning and performance for their main sport, but gym rats can also cross-train to reap the fitness benefits of multiple disciplines.
Cross-training can also help prevent injuries from the overuse of specific muscles that often happens with repetitive movement from engaging in the same activity.
As an example, an aspiring obstacle athlete may use the following training schedule:
Tuesday: Circuit training
Thursday: Flexibility & Core Training
A gym rat may follow this weekly training sequence:
Monday: Group cycling
Wednesday: Circuit training
Saturday: Circuit training
Sunday: Run (treadmill or outdoors)
Whatever you decide to do, the important thing is to set aside 3-5 days a week of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes and do it!
2. Circuit Training
Circuit training incorporates short bouts of various exercises with little rest in between each.
Circuit training grew in popularity thanks to the original Curves method and spin-off women’s express workouts. An exerciser spent one minute at an exercise station, which typically involved strength machines, core and balance exercises, or flexibility work, with minimal rest in between each station.
Nowadays, circuit training for general fitness takes on a similar form with a series of strength, agility, cardio/aerobic, core, bodyweight, and several other types of exercises completed in a sequence with little rest in between each exercise.
Circuit training has clear carry-over benefits for obstacle race training as it can simulate some of the challenges you can face on race day.
For most athletes, obstacle racing and otherwise, circuit training can be an efficient way to improve or maintain aerobic fitness and endurance while training for strength, endurance, balance, and other aspects of sports performance.
For more on using circuits for obstacle race training, you can read “Running Basics for Obstacle Race Training: 2 More Running Workouts.”
Whether it’s running, biking, swimming, or even in-gym cardio machines, once you’ve built up the aerobic fitness to sustain activity for 30 minutes, you can use intervals to add variety to your training while boosting your endurance.
Intervals, repeats, or laps are often used interchangeably to refer to the same thing: alternating bouts of near max-out activity with periods of rest or active recovery.
In running workouts, the work bout can range from 200m – 2 miles, depending on the athlete’s level of fitness. The rest or active recovery bout can last anywhere from the same amount of time it took to complete the work bout or up to three times longer for a 1:1 or 1:3 work:rest ratio. A similar principle can be applied to biking and swimming sessions.
For more on interval training for running, you can read my article on AskTheTrainer.com.
On in-gym cardio machines, you may have noticed that some equipment like cardio cross trainers or elliptical trainers often have a range of pre-set workout programs that alternate a steep incline and/or increased resistance with an easier incline and/or decreased resistance settings. This is also a form of intervals.
By now, you should have enough info and guidance to get started on regular aerobic activity and beyond!
Once you’ve built up the endurance for at least 30 minutes of sustained activity at least 3 days a week, you can work in any of these three techniques into your training schedule.
© 2009-2015 Melissa Rodriguez
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