Thursday, October 8, 2009

Aerobic Base Building

Why build an aerobic base?

Want to hear something ironic? One of the best ways to increase your running speed is to slow down. You’ve probably heard that cardio intervals are the best way to train quickly and boost your performance. It’s true. But before you can shock your body with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) you need to build an aerobic base.

I know it takes discipline to train in your aerobic zone when you’re dying to see how hard you can push yourself. Low intensity workouts can seem useless. Hang in there. You’ll see huge benefits down the road. Aerobic means “with oxygen.” The more work you can perform aerobically, the more efficient you will become.

How do you build an aerobic base?

Begin by finding your maximum heart rate.

• Subtract your age from 180
• Now select which category you fall into
o If you don’t already work out regularly or you’re recovering from an illness or injury, subtract 10
o If you only exercise occasionally, subtract 5
o If you have worked out regularly for the past year, leave the number where it is

This is the number you’ll work with. To build an aerobic base, you need to keep you heart rate at or below this number during your next 6-12 weeks of training.

Here’s the easy part: wear your heart rate monitor and do whatever exercise you prefer. You can jog, cycle, workout on the treadmill or elliptical trainer. Have fun with your workouts. You’ll be ready for intervals in no time!


  1. How many times a week should you be doing this during the 6-12 weeks of training? I have started this base building, but was hoping to see how many times I should be shooting for a week.


  2. Hi JJ,

    That's a very good question. This is a very personal thing, and in the beginning it is dependent upon your previous experience. For example, if you have never exercised before, you want to start with a realistic goal, for example, it is not realisitic to start working out 6 days a week right away. Your body is not used to that, and you will likely burn out and/or get discouraged. I recommend starting with 2-3 times per week and working up to 5-6 days per week. By week 5, if you are feeling good, set a goal to workout 5 days per week. I know this is hard, but no one said getting in great shape came without hardwork.
    My advice is to schedule as part of your day, like an appt. If you workout in the morning, lay your clothing out the night before. If it's after work, pack your gym bag the night before.

    Hope this helps, would love to hear what stage your at! And let me know if you have any further questions - I enjoy them.


  3. Thanks Amanda! I do have one more question.. how many minutes to work up to per workout?

    I am trying to get back to working out more (knowing it won't be easy, however, certainly worth it!) I have been doing 10 minute warm up, 75 minute elliptical, 10-20 minute stretch. I am looking forward to becoming stronger and enjoying being fit again, but want to make sure I am doing it "smart" and efficient.


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