When you are often ill, injured, or at a higher risk for overtraining, it is extremely important to rest as much as possible and to exercise exclusively at an aerobic intensity (at or under your MAF heart rate). For any session to be effective, certain guidelines must be followed (which we describe below). However, these guidelines become critical for someone who is at risk for overtraining: deviating from them puts unnecessary stresses on the body, which compound the likelihood for overtraining.
Aerobic Training period
For anyone who is chronically ill, injured, or overtrained, we suggest:
- A three-month (90-day) training period of 100 percent Aerobic (MAF HR) Training.
This is because the aerobic system, which burns fat for fuel, and is responsible for the body’s health, energy regulation, longevity, and endurance performance, develops over a relatively long term. (The anaerobic system, which burns sugar for fuel, and can be best understood as the body’s short-term, emergency turbocharger, develops over the short term).
Because modern sports prescription typically prescribes some sort of anaerobic training (which develops the anaerobic systems very quickly), people tend to think that “fitness” develops quickly. For this reason, many are disappointed when they do not see quick aerobic gains, thinking that they aren’t becoming “fitter.” A very important philosophical component of aerobic training is to internalize the notion that the aerobic system is the foundation for the correct functioning of the body’s entire physiology — meaning that “true” fitness must begin by improving the health and power of the aerobic system.
The Training Formula
There is a four-step process that must be followed in order to develop the aerobic system (and the rest of your body) quickly and efficiently. It’s very difficult to make gains if your exercise routine is missing one of these 4 components:
Active warm-up periods provide a key 12-minute window for the body to switch gears from rest to activity and back again.
Warm-up does NOT mean stretching. Instead, it is a period of very low intensity activity in which you allow the heart rate to slowly rise. There are four main benefits to a proper warm-up:
- Blood is circulated throughout the aerobic muscles.
- The lungs function better.
- Fat-burning increases.
- Flexibility improves.
Exercise is the most active component of the four-step process. Depending on your activity level, this app will tell you how long your exercise routine is going to be.
The cool-down is the reverse of a warm-up. By slowly bringing down the heart rate during the last 12 minutes, the body begins the important process of recovery, allowing it to obtain the many benefits of exercise.
Recovery only happens during rest and sleep. The physical benefits of exercise develop during recovery — that’s when the body adapts to the workout.
Tracking your aerobic development
Before beginning your aerobic training, take a MAF Test as instructed by the MAF-GPS Test article [LINK] or our MAF iPhone App [LINK]. Then repeat the MAF Test monthly to ensure that you are developing aerobically.
- We recommend that if you do NOT observe measurable aerobic improvement for three consecutive months, you extend the aerobic training period.
- We suggest a minimum of three consecutive months of measurable aerobic improvement in order to ensure that the aerobic system is powerful enough to tolerate any anaerobic exercise.