Conditioning may be defined as the maximum sustainable power output throughout the duration of an event, says Joel Jameison (2019). In addition, the aerobic system relies on the use of oxygen to support oxidation of glycogen or fatty acids hence the name Aerobic energy system. Unfortunately, due to the fitness-to-music industry, says Yuri Verhoshansky (2009), aerobics is more related to step classes, Zumba, and other movement-related fitness classes. The strength and conditioning world looks at being conditioned as being able to handle long duration of exercise (i.e running a marathon), sustaining power output during multiple bouts of effort (i.e sprinting or jumping), or recovering quicker after intense exercise (i.e performing at a high level of intensity back to back days). While continuous movement can aid in some form or aerobic capacity, there are different aerobic systems that provide support in athletic performance, endurance in longer events, and also success in the weight room. Furthermore, we must train the aerobic system in various ways to get optimal results.
The Aerobic System
The aerobic system provides the majority of the energy production for any activity lasting longer than 60 seconds, regardless of the intensity level. This system is also responsible for recovery between explosive bursts as well as producing the energy necessary to sustain everyday life (Jamieson, 2018). It has been thought that increasing your aerobic system would simply make you slower due to the typical methods of training to improve endurance. However, studies have indicated that energy systems utilized for high intensity and lower intensity exercise require a good aerobic capacity in order to assist with recovery, increased ATP production for explosive activities, and added benefits to people’s life span. Furthermore, what we know about the aerobic system includes increasing the functional capacity of the heart, increasing the size of the vascular network, and increasing the number of mitochondria and function of mitochondria (Brown, 2018).
Different methods of building an aerobic base
Improving your aerobic fitness can be done in many ways, and do not have to be boring or monotonous in order to make it fun; YES aerobic training can be fun! Here are three common methods that are done in order to improve your aerobic capacity:
- Cardiac Output
- High Resistance Method
- Steady State or Low Intensity Aerobic Work
Cardiac Output Training
This method helps improve oxygen supply by increasing how effective the heart can deliver oxygen to the muscles during exercise. This can be done either biking (Schwinn Airdyne Bike), jogging outside, jump roping, swimming, rowing (Concept 2 Rower), but you must keep your heart rate at the appropriate level. In order to constitute what you are doing as cardiac output training, your heart rate must be 130-150 beats, and your exercise duration should be between 30-90 minutes of continuous movement.
High Resistance Method
This is a favorite one of mine because of the effects it has on improving fast-twitch fibers. In addition, due to lower duration and high intensity, this style of conditioning relates more to strength training or even work done in your sport. Therefore, this method improves the abilities of fast-twitch fibers so high power output can be maintained longer. In order to achieve this style of training you can perform hill sprints, sled pushes (Gronk prowler), slam ball, medicine ball, or battle rope slams. In order to achieve High Resistance Methods, you must keep your heart rate between 130-150 beats per minute for 10-12 seconds and can be performed for 15-20 reps per set. Once you complete a rep you would then rest for a 1:6 work to rest ratio in order to recover adequately enough to repeat.
Steady State or Low Intensity Aerobic Work
Steady-state training is a great method to improve your ability to recover. In order to achieve this, you will want to measure it with an RPE Scale (Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale) from 1-10, and you will want to remain between a 5-6 (able to hold a conversation). This method of training is important because during intense training you will activate your sympathetic nervous system which is your “flight or fight” response system. Being in this state is ok during exercise, but if prolonged you can see long term effects such as gaining weight, overtraining injuries, and other negative health factors. Therefore, training at a low intensity helps bring your heart rate down and allows your heart to have to work less during easier movements. With that said, if your heart has to work less during light exercise then it will not have to work as hard when you begin to increase the intensity for longer durations. You can implement this after your training routine to help bring your heart rate down, and it can last anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. Some examples are walking outside or on a treadmill, going for a lite jog, or doing something that is continuous movement without really fatiguing yourself.
While it may be assumed that if the activity you are doing does make your arms want to fall off, legs feel like they are going to explode, or by the end of the workout you will pass out, it must not be effective. However, with many new findings, the strength and conditioning world has come to realize that conditioning plays a vital role in not only strength gains and physical improvements, but also recovery. In order to see greater benefits of strength training and exercise in general, it is important that you implement some type of conditioning into your weekly program with respect to the science for optimal results.
Conditioning Program: What is Conditioning? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.8weeksout.com/what-is-conditioning/McKay, J., Brown, J., Scott, Timbo, Brown, J., Jonathan, … McCoy, G. (2018, August 8).
The Lost Art of Conditioning For Strength, Performance & Recovery. Retrieved from https://drjohnrusin.com/the-lost-art-of-conditioning-for-strength-performance-recovery/
Verkhoshansky, Y., & Siff, M. C. (2009). Supertraining. Rome, Italy: Verkhoshansky.