Our aerobic muscles burn fat for energy, improve circulation and immunity, support the joints and bones, and provide motion all day long without fatigue.
The Aerobic System
The aerobic human body is associated with improved health, longevity, recovery and endurance. When not well developed, poor aerobic function leads to a serious deficiency.
Aerobic deficiency is common in those who exercise too hard, those who are overstressed, and in people who are inactive. This occurs with poor fat burning and reduced muscle support and function. Some common signs and symptoms:
- Chronic fatigue.
- Frequent injury.
- Hormone imbalance.
- Increased body fat.
- Chronic inflammation.
- Poor endurance.
Take the survey
Take the following survey to determine whether you are at risk for overtraining. This survey will provide you with a personalized risk level (low, moderate, or high) that you can use to improve your health.
A high level of risk doesn’t mean that you have a serious health condition. It means that due to your present situation (lifestyle, health and habits), you have a higher risk for this condition.
The best aerobic training feels easy and relaxing.
The MAF Test
The MAF Test is a simple aerobic evaluation that allows you to track your progress. It can be performed while running, walking, cycling or during other workouts. A runner, for example, warms up very slow for 15 minutes (walking or jogging) and then runs at the MAF HR, recording each mile or km.
The MAF Test is typically performed on a flat oval track of a known size (such as 400m), but it can also be performed on a relatively flat stretch of road, using a GPS device to keep track of distance (MAF-GPS test).
Monthly tests should demonstrate faster paces, or more power, at the same MAF HR, otherwise, aerobic development is not occurring. If your speed plateaus (stops increasing) for two or three tests, or decreases, this is a warning that aerobic function may be compromised or diminishing.
For those without good aerobic function, it often takes three to six months of strict aerobic exercise to build the aerobic system. During this time it is important to avoid exercise above the MAF HR.
Aerobic Training Guidelines
Individual exercise needs vary considerably, but don’t think more is better. Start with your normal time, not distance. Increase no more than 10 percent every two weeks.
If you are new or haven’t exercised consistently for more than about three months:
- Start with only 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times per week. Since our recommendation is that the warm-up and cool-down last 15 minutes each, you’ll only be warming up and cooling down at first.
- As the weeks progress, gradually increase the time spent at your MAF HR, but never exceed it.
Knowing when and how to reincorporate strength and power training into an exercise routine is very important. While this training has many health and fitness benefits, doing too much (or incorporating it too soon after starting a new exercise regimen) can impair the aerobic system.
Training for added strength and power, including speed, comes in many forms such as:
- Weight/strength training. (See an exception: Slow Weights LINK)
- High intensity interval training (HIT).
Strength and power training can be included in your routine when MAF Tests have consistently improved, indicating that the aerobic system can tolerate high intensity training without impairing health.
Continue performing the MAF Test monthly to make sure aerobic function does not diminish. If it does, temporarily eliminate strength and power training until aerobic function is restored.
For most individuals with healthy aerobic systems, a yearly ratio of aerobic to strength training is about 80 percent aerobic and 20 percent anaerobic (strength and power).