When we talk about cardiovascular exercise nowadays what generally comes to mind a quick HIIT workout that lasts anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes. In a world where we love immediate gratification, these workouts sound like a great idea; they are time efficient and we feel like we got crushed at the end of the workout. The big issue with this is that this type of workout only really focuses on building the anaerobic system where our heart rate is redlining the whole work out and it feels like you crushed 3 Red Bulls beforehand. Even though it’s important to train your anaerobic system the issue is we prioritize it way too much. So today we are going to talk about why building your aerobic base is important to your health and how to start developing a plan to incorporate this type of training into your training.
Benefits of Building Your Aerobic Base
The biggest benefit of doing aerobic work, and the one that most people are generally looking for when doing cardiovascular exercise, is that when done properly your body will be utilizing body fat as its main fuel source. This occurs because your body is working at a low enough effort that it can utilize the oxygen we are taking in to break down fat. This will happen when we keep our hearts within a certain range. If we exceed this, that’s when our body switches from fat to carbohydrates as its main fuel source. Obviously, maintaining this during a traditional HIIT workout would be extremely challenging especially when you’re sucking wind and feeling like you can’t breathe.
Another great benefit of consistent targeted aerobic work is increased energy throughout the day. Almost all of the activities we do on a daily basis push our body to be operating off our aerobic systems 90% of the day. So whether you’re driving or sitting on the couch watching Netflix, the aerobic system is driving the bus. If you’re the type of person who needs 6 cups of coffee a day to survive, and you still can’t figure out why you’re still tired; there is a very good chance your aerobic system is underdeveloped and struggling to provide enough energy for you to feel normal throughout the day. So by adding in some targeted low-intensity cardiovascular exercise, you can start educating your body on how to provide consistent energy to your body throughout the day.
I am sure everyone is asking: HOW CAN I START NOW?!
Let’s put a plan together so you can start reaping the benefits of a more robust aerobic system. We’ll be using the MAF 180 Formula to find our working heart rate for an average healthy 30 year old.
1. Subtract your age from 180, then modify from one of the categories below (30-180=150).
2. In case that you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.); If you are in rehabilitation. If you are on any regular medication, or are in Stage 3 (chronic) overtraining (burnout). Subtract an additional 10, it does not apply.
3. If you are injured, have regressed, or not improved in training, just starting, or getting back into training. Subtract an additional 5, it does not apply.
4. If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems mentioned in A or B, no modification is necessary. Use 180 minus age as your MAF HR.
5. If you’ve been training for over two years without any of the problems listed above, or improved competitively and without injury. Add 5, it does not apply.
Now Let’s get moving
This “MAF Formula” enables people to find their ideal maximum aerobic heart rate in which to base all aerobic training. When this number exceeds it indicates a rapid transition towards anaerobic work.
Now that we have our target, we should start by getting in at least three 30-min sessions a week focusing on staying within 135-150bpm. The best way to make sure you are sticking with this range is to grab a heart rate monitor.
Building your aerobic base consistently will “BUILD YOUR ENGINE”; this allows you to feel more energetic throughout the day and having a bigger gas tank for those HIIT workouts you love.