Thursday, February 24, 2011

Heart to Heart

Actually I don't want to have a deep conversation with you all (well I do but that's just not in this post!) Let's talk a little about heart rate and zone training. I mention that I do sprints for speed work, sometimes plyometrics and interval bike work outs. The sprint work double here but the reason for these kind of workouts is to improve my endurance by lowering my anaerobic threshold through zone training.... huh?

Let's start first by busting the myth of the "fat burning zone". It is an old-school thought that you will loose weight more efficiently if you work at a lower intensity because your body is burning fat instead of carbs as fuel. This is true about what your body is using as fuel however it DOES NOT mean you will more efficiently loose weight, the only way to loose weight is to burn more calories than you consume and the harder you work, the more calories you burn.

Now, what is your anaerobic threshold? I could give a very biological answer about how your cells use oxygen but really just think of it like this. Your AT is the line between your point of endurance and pushing it hard. My spin teacher would describe it as above your AT is "that point of work where when I make you hold it you want to walk out of the door." When working above AT you cannot breath through your nose and your muscles are on fire due to lactic acid build up.

Why work above your AT? Working in short intervals past your point of endurance makes your heart stronger efficiently. It lowers your heart rate over all thus lowering your AT giving you more steady-state endurance. 201102201937.jpg

Here's an idea of your target heart rate in each "zone" if you wear a heart rate monitor while working out (which I don't). The blue line is your AT to get a basic idea of where you stand take 180- your age and that would be your AT number, of course this will vary depending on fitness level.

Here is an idea of what my heart rate training workouts on the bike look like. It is slightly different from HIIT because it is longer and includes more recovery time during the workout although it has the same affects.

See here for the benefits of HIIT.

10 minute warm up on random

5 minute slow climb to "qualify AT" (notice what it feels like when you hit your AT so you will know what it feels like to push past it) This should be the moment that you can no longer hold a conversation or breath through your nose.

30 seconds recover to zone 2 (easy but still some work)

3 minutes to reach zone 3 (working with noticeable effort)

1 minute to reach AT and push into zone 4

1 minute sustained zone 4

30 seconds recover

2 minutes to reach zone 3

1 minute to reach AT and push past

1 minute sustained zone 4

30 seconds to recover

1 minute to reach zone 3

1 minute to AT and push past

1 minute sustained zone 4

2 minutes recovery

Repeat sequence

5 minute cool down

*Note- There are two ways to move between zones, by increasing/decreasing your resistance, your speed, or both. I encourage you to do what works for you!

This workout should kick your tushy in a good way and leave you feeling great and full of energy afterwards!

Next time you're in training or looking for a new fitness goal, try to make it a point to make you heart stronger by zone training!



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