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Cardiovascular Training: Common Questions

December 11, 2009

What is steady state training?

Steady state cardio refers to aerobic activity that is performed at a low intensity (usually at 60-80% of a person's maximum heart rate). Sessions should always exceed 20 minutes of continuous activity. Being able to participate in steady state training for a minimum of twenty minutes is absolutely a prerequisite for participating in any of the following, higher intensity training methods!

What is the “fat burning zone”?

The "fat burning zone" is aerobic exercise that is performed at 55-65% of your maximum heart rate. During exercise, the body burns a combination of fat and carbohydrates. The percentage of fat burned during low intensity cardio is greater than the percentage burned during high intensity cardio (65-90% of your maximum heart rate). However, the overall number calories burned both during and after high intensity cardio is much greater, ultimately resulting in a greater fat loss (see chart)

What is lactate threshold training?

Lactate threshold training refers to the point at which blood lactate increases abruptly and can no longer be absorbed by the body. It is widely accepted that lactate threshold can be greatly increased with training. "Maximal lactate steady state" is often used to describe an state at which lactate production is equal to clearance. Pace/tempo runs are performed at lactate threshold. Incidentally, lactate threshold is usuallly only 50-80% of an althlete's VO2 max. The average person reaches their lactate threshold at about 60% of their VO2 max, while an elite endurance athlete might not reach their lactate threshold until 85-95% of their VO2 max). (Estimating lactate threshold)

What is VO2 max training?

VO2 max refers to the maximum amount of oxygen that an individual can utilize during intense or maximal exercise (in the lab, researchers measure millimeters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight). Most researches agree that although genetics, age, and gender all play a role in determining a person?s VO2 max, individuals can increase their VO2 max through training. Intervals are generally performed at VO2 max.

What is interval training?

Interval training refers to exercise that is done at an intensity close to VO2 max. Intervals are generally much shorter in duration than pace or tempo runs, and the rest intervals are usually equal to the work intervals.

What is repetition training?

Repetition training refers to exercise that is done at intensities greater than VO2 max. These work bouts are generally much shorter than "intervals", lasting somewhere between 30-90 seconds. The recovery periods are approximately 4-6 times as long as the work bouts (so a 30 second repetition would require a two and half minute recovery).

What is Fartlek Training?

Fartlek Training basicallly incorporates steady state, tempo training, and intervals. It combines exercises of low intensities (less than 70% of VO2 max) with exercises that require short bursts of high intensity (such as intervals).

What is HIIT (high intensity interval training)?

HIIT involves brief bouts at near-maximum or maximum effort followed by periods of lower-intensity activity. Furthermore, HIIT work bouts are even shorter than "repetition" work bouts, lasting 10-20 seconds at most. Generally, the rest periods are also shorter than with all other types of cardio training. So how do you know if you're really doing HIIT? First of all, you're in an all-out sprint, which is impossible to maintain for more than 15-20 seconds! Light-headedness and nausea is not uncommon at this point. If done properly, total work time (work and recovery periods combined) for HIIT is never more than 15 minutes. HIIT should not be confused with "beginner intervals" or interval training. Period.

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