Aerobic Training Tips
Aerobic training is likely the method that is most familiar to the average person in terms of trying to improve general levels of fitness through physical activity. Much of what we consider exercise falls under the category of aerobic training.
By definition, aerobic training involves improving cardiovascular endurance through elevating the heart rate for an extended period of time. More specifically, in order to achieve an aerobic effect you must elevate your heart rate to your target heart rate and maintain that level for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes.
Yet, there is a great deal of variation in the ways that people go about implementing aerobic training into their lives. With such great variation, it seems necessary to also be aware of general tips and rules to which you should adhere.
Choosing Aerobic Exercise Equipment
While following very detailed workout routines is a great way to get started, you are likely going to want to augment your aerobic workout routine in order to help to help you meet your specific physical fitness goals. This is exactly what the following pages and articles are designed to do. Below you will find a short summary of each category within this website's section.
While it's entirely possible to exercise using calisthenics, or exercises that use your own body weight for resistance, some people prefer to use exercise equipment during training. As most equipment is operated indoors, using exercise equipment implies that you'll primary be working out inside, which comes with its own set of benefits. Working out outdoors can leave you exposed to inclement weather, while the noncontrolled environment can cause health problems if the temperature is too hot or cold. Those that jog or ride a bike in urban areas also risk breathing problems from traffic exhaust fumes.
But exercise equipment doesn't come without a few disadvantages, particularly if used improperly. Inappropriate use of some exercise equipment can expose the user to a host of injuries ranging from mild to severe. Some trainers also find exercise equipment boring compared to using hiking or engaging in sports activities.
There are many exercise machines dedicated to improving cardiovascular health, each offering a slightly different workout. Equipment like stair steppers, bikes, and treadmills focus primarily on the lower body, equipment like rowing machines and ellipticals offer a full body workout. Prices can vary greatly and depend largely on the equipped features and overall quality of the machine.
Elliptical machines feature pedals that move in an elliptical when operated by the user. Ellipticals also utilize handles that add an upper body workout to the exercise. An elliptical machine is used to simulate climbing stairs, walking, or running while eliminating excess pressure on the user's joints. This makes elliptical machines popular exercise equipment for senior citizens or those recovering from injuries.
The features and benefits of elliptical machines include:
Elliptical trainers can also be further categorized into three types, rear drive, front drive, and center drive. These types refer to the position of the motor within the equipment. Elliptical machines vary greatly in price, with commercial machines exceeding $4,000 and home models available under $200.00.
Stationary bikes resemble normal bicycles, but usually only have a front wheel and are used solely for exercise, not for transportation. While a stationary bike is a specialized piece of exercise equipment, a normal bike can also be used for stationary exercise by using a bicycle roller or trainer, both pieces of equipment that hold a normal bike in place and apply resistance.
Some common benefits and features of stationary bikes include:
The most common types of stationary bikes are recumbent, semi-recumbent, and upright, but a mini exercise bike is also available. Mini exercise bikes use only the pedals and resistance to provide a workout, without taking up the space that a normal stationary bike would. Users simply place the mini exercise bike on the floor and pedal. Extra features on a stationary bike impact its price, such as an ergometer, television screen, heart rate monitor, and specialized preset training programs.
Treadmills are some of the oldest exercise machines in existence, but they weren't always used for healthy purposes. The first treadmills appeared around 2000 BC, when they were used as muscle-powered engines. A treadmill operated by a person or livestock could provide sufficient power to pump water or knead dough. Later, treadmills were used to punish inmates of hard labor prisons.
One of the first treadmills to be used for health-related purposes was introduced in 1952 by Dr. Robert Bruce and Wayne Quinton. It's original purpose was as a specialized piece of equipment to diagnose lung and heart disease.
There are many benefits and features of treadmills, including:
Treadmills also have a variety of disadvantages. The lack of wind resistance and perfectly flat surface offered by a treadmill can cause runners to develop bad habits that can transition to normal outdoor running. Treadmill users can adjust the incline of the machine to simulate the additional challenges of outdoor jogging. More than many other cardiovascular equipment, treadmills are associated with workout boredom.
General Aerobic Training Tips
Consult Your Physician: It is of utmost importance to consult your physician before beginning or applying major changes to an aerobic training program. This is even more important if you have a heart condition or serious illness. You may want to draft your exercise plan on some paper so that your doctor can review it with you and make changes where necessary. By doing this, you can ensure that your plan is healthy and will not put you at risk for a serious condition or injury.
Start Slowly: Even though you may be more than ready to meet your goals, it is important that you take your time and begin very slowly. You should use the first portion of your aerobic training plan to become used to your chosen equipment or methods. By rushing through the first portion of your program, you may become frustrated as you progress into later stages.
Increase Training in Stages: Your training should look like an easy plateau on paper. You should first aim to accomplish a goal, and then apply all of your efforts to accomplish another goal. By doing this, you apply levels of difficulty or progression into your program. These levels not only keep you focused, but they afford a great deal more flexibility in accurately measuring results and keeping motivation soaring.
Create a Schedule: You should be well aware of when your next five training sessions will be before you begin your first one. This is another tip geared towards motivation and properly tracking progress. When you make and keep and schedule, it is easy to catch training mistakes and feel a sense of accomplishment when you set a schedule and adhere to it. Almost every professional athlete or physical trainer keeps a detailed and regular schedule.
Allow Time for Stretching: You absolutely have to stretch before each workout. As a general rule, this stretching time should amount to 10 to 15 minutes. Do not wait too long to move on to your regular routine after stretching. The whole point of stretching is to warm and prepare muscles and joints for physical activity. By stretching, you can prevent many injuries that stem from overuse or strain.
Be Patient for Results: Remain patient as you progress through your program. Different bodies require different amounts of time to develop. While one person's body may develop rapidly, it may take you a great deal more time to obtain the same results. Your program is designed for you. As long as you follow the basic rules of nutrition and exercise, you can be assured that your program will work eventually.
Listen to Your Body: Your body is constantly sending you messages informing you of what actions you should take. These include "I'm hungry", "That hurts", "I'm tired", etc. This is no different during exercise. By learning to listen to the signals that your body sends you when participating in aerobic training, you can get the most out of your workout plan and prevent many overuse injuries.
Challenge Yourself: You should constantly push yourself to see how far you can take your body but without overdoing it. Your goals should be reasonable enough to meet in your chosen time frame but difficult enough where it may be a stretch. For example, if you set a goal for 5 training sessions and you meet it in 2, you may need to adjust your next goal to be a little more difficult. This can be tricky at first but as your progress through your program, it will become easier.
Consider a Training Partner: One of the prime enemies of aerobic training (indeed, all exercise programs) is the loss of motivation. This can often be curbed by employing a training partner. It might be that you and a friend share similar fitness goals (lose weight, play better at next week's softball game) or you may just want to connect with a friend or lover on another level. By training with someone else, you are accountable to them. You may carpool to the gym or set a similar schedule. When you train with someone else, there is someone to pick you up when you fail and keep you going when you succeed.
Avoid Over Training: It is often tempting to train continuously to meet an unreasonable goal. The simple fact is that your body can only take so much exercise in a given period. When you over train, you set yourself up for failure.
This could result from an injury or a loss of interest. Even if you decide to scale back training after a period of over training, the feeling of not doing enough is difficult to shed. To avoid this exercise plan killer, keep your exercises reasonable and take plenty of rest between each training session.
Avoid Starving Yourself: Another common mistake of aerobic trainers is starving themselves to see faster results. Indeed, you can get some lightning fast weight loss results when you do not eat. However, you can also get malnutrition, gout, scurvy and other serious illnesses by not eating enough food.
You cannot starve yourself forever and as soon as you resume a normal diet, you will regain the weight. Avoid this harmful practice by eating reasonable amounts of food and making healthy dietary choices.