Wednesday, July 5, 2017

You're training/exercising, but are you getting fit?

I see more people exercising outside (walking, jogging, cycling, etc.) on a daily basis now that the days are longer and the weather is nicer...which is a good thing to see.  But, I always wonder if these people have any idea at all whether they're getting fit. After all, isn't that the goal of exercising- a fitter/healthier body?  At least I hope that's why they are walking, jogging, cycling, etc.  Yes, for a few, I know some people just like to walk/jog/run/ride a bike.  I know a lot, however, are wasting their time- if getting fit is their goal.  Why?  Because their pace/effort is too low/slow.  Unless their pace/effort is in the Endurance/Tempo Zone (>L2) for a minimum of 20 minutes there will be little to no cardiovascular benefit.  Not to mention little to no calories burned. i.e. weight loss.  I'm not saying that everyone that exercises should exercise til they feel like puking, but if your exercise isn't slightly "uncomfortable" then the benefits are few.

So, what's the best way to ensure you're exercising at the correct pace/effort?  I like to use a Heart Rate (HR) monitor.  And, I like to train at the L2-L3 levels/zones when I'm just starting out.  They are the Endurance and Tempo Zones and they are roughly 70-80% of your HRmax.  I believe that training/exercising at Zone 1 is a waste of time. How do you find HRmax?  Some fitness gurus advocate using the formula 220 minus your age.  For me, that would be 162 bpm.  That's not even close to my HRmax.  If I were to base my training zones on that HRmax, I would be wasting my time.  My true HRmax is 195 bpm on the bike.  By the way, most peoples HRmax is different when running.  I believe the only way to find your true HRmax is to do an all out effort of say 3-5 minutes at the specific sport/exercise.  Just be careful you don't do an HRmax test if/when you're out of shape or you'll drop dead of a heart attack.   As my fitness improves, I like to train at the L3-L4 levels/zones.  L4 is the Lactate Threshold Zone and it's a Zone where you can train for approximately 1 hour before you're completely exhausted.   When I'm in shape, it's mostly workouts in the L4-L5 Zones.  If you don't have a HR monitor, get one.  They're not expensive.  If you can't afford one, then just use perceived exertion as your guide.  Put simply, initially you want to train at a Level or in a Zone where it's slightly uncomfortable.  Once you become fitter, you want to train in the "uncomfortable" zone.  Uncomfortable means just that..not painful and not comfortable.

What I also like to do, to see if I'm getting fitter, is to compare the same rides with the same external factors (weather conditions, rest level, food fuel level, etc.).  I like to look at the average speed or average power and look at the associated average HR for those rides.  For example, say I ride the same 20 mile Time Trial flat route on my road bike...and it takes an hour to ride (averaging 20 mph).  I look at my average HR for that ride (say it's 140bpm) and see if my HRavg drops for the same ride, at the same average speed, in the future.  If it drops in the future (to say 130bpm avg), I know I'm getting fitter.

To get fit in 2017, make sure you're training/exercising in the correct zone.  Otherwise, you may be wasting your time training.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

No comments: