Many people would rather eat grass than do cardio training. It can be as boring as watching that grass grow, or downright painful (have you ever seen a runner smile while they run?)
The keys to getting the most out of your conditioning program, while simultaneously making it tolerable (or even enjoyable), are as follows: 1) Train in the correct target zone, so your results match your fitness goals, and 2) Find an activity that you love, like, or at the least, don’t hate!
So lets start with number 1. In order to understand your target zone, you first need a basic understanding of the aerobic and anaerobic energy system. Simply stated, aerobic means “with oxygen”. When you are “aerobic”, your oxygenated blood processes fat as it’s primary fuel source. When you are anaerobic, carbohydrates, in the form of glycogen, become the primary fuel source. Low level intensity has low level results, but as your exercise intensity increases, so does the amount of fat utilized for energy.
If your intensity continues to increase, you may eventually hit your “First Ventilatory Threshold (VT1)”, which is the point at which your body starts to accumulate more lactic acid than it can expel. It is at this point that your breathing and heart rate take a noticeable uptick, and holding a conversation becomes more challenging.
If your intensity continues at a more and more rapid pace, you may then hit your “Second Ventilatory Threshold (VT2), wherein you are now anaerobic. This stage is not sustainable for any external length of time, and is typically reached in high intensity interval training.
Using the “talk test” is the easiest way of determining where you are in terms of these thresholds, and what stage you are in. In short, if you can talk normally without gasping for air, you are in stage 1 (below VT1). This is where beginners want to remain, until they establish their aerobic base.
If you start finding it difficult to hold a conversation without catching your breath, you are likely to be in stage 2, between VT1 and VT2. This is where most people who are trying to get fit and lose weight want to be. If you can’t talk, and start gasping for air, you are probably past VT2, which means glycogen is now your primary fuel source.
That’s a brief overview of a very complex system, but it covers the basics. As far as exercise order goes, it is best to warm up first (6-10 minutes), strength train, then do cardio last. Why? Because strength training is anaerobic in nature. If you tap into them during cardio, you’ll less in reserve for strength training. If, however, you strength train first, then do cardio, your body will have to rely more heavily on fat as a fuel source. Win-Win!
As far as Number 2 goes, try to find an enjoyable activity that you can actually look forward to. If you’re not crazy about walking, try hiking in the woods (or even skipping!) Trail biking and mountain biking are also good choices.
As for indoor training, take a chance, and try out group exercise classes. It’s a great way to have fun and socialize with other people, and the peer pressure will keep you from slacking off too much! As for machines, such as ellipticals, treadmills, and stationary bikes, here are some suggestion for fighting the boredom: listen to audio books or podcasts, or better still, watch a movie on your iPad, if you have one. You will find that rather than watching the clock to get off, you’ll stay on longer so you can continue watching.
For more information, or to consult with a certified personal trainer, email us at Info@FitnessWellnessHealth.com.