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Training your body for a stronger Aerobic Fitness Base using your Target Heart Rate

Updated on November 14, 2012
Team Fluid cycling team knows and understands the importance of develop a strong aerobic base.
Team Fluid cycling team knows and understands the importance of develop a strong aerobic base.

Understanding Your Aerobic Base

With every sport, there is an element of endurance required. In many sports like Rugby, Football(if you read this and though gridiron, american football you have a lot to learn), Hockey, Cycling, Running and Triathlon a strong aerobic base is extremely beneficial to performance. Every world class athlete spends countless hours training their aerobic base equally as well as they do their anaerobic power and skills. Aerobics is like the grease and coolant in a car engine. The car will run with out it, but the chance of the car breaking down are increased. Think of it as the maintenance your body needs to perform at it's best.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Be prepared. Not just with ever tangible thing you will need. Training you're aerobic base is just as much mental as it will be physical.
  2. Do the work. It will take several hours, several days a week for several weeks to start to see tangible gains aerobically, if you skip out on 1 day, it can throw you back a week easily.
  3. Recover, recover, recover. This means figuring out what works best for you in terms of diet and rest. Be sure to get plenty of sleep, at least 8 hours a night.

What is an Aerobic Base

So what is an aerobic base? Simply put, an aerobic base is the amount of energy that our body can sustain in a quasi steady state for a set amount of time. This time is the anomaly that we must then define with in the parameters of our sport. For example, in a 90+ futball match, 90 minutes would be the set time. If say, you are a cyclist who does road races for 2 hours, then 2 hours would be your time. This doesn't mean that we train only for that set time, in fact we should train longer.

Building an exercise plan that accurately tracks you energy levels is the tricky part; however, there are relatively inexpensive tools that anyone can purchase to use as training aids. Firstly the heart rate monitor is the easiest to understand what it does and cheapest to afford. You simply need to define your maximum heart rate value. While testing procedures will yield a more accurate number, you can cheat and use a little math to get started. Take 220 and subtract your age from it. This should give you a reasonable estimate for your max hear rate.

Employing Heart Rate for Aerobic Gains

Traditional fitness based knowledge has the target training zone between 55%-85% of your maximum hear rate. This is a hugely broad range, and depending on the time and method in which you apply your heart rate in this zone, changes the adaptations gained and the level of fatigue.

There are several levels of aerobic exercise that a sound program will employ. The three most important levels are endurance training, lactic threshold training, VO2max training. Each of these will employ your hear rate at a different value for a different time; though, a sound program will employ these areas properly and as accurately as possible. Each zone will also be used at different times of the year or macro cycle.

Aerobic Training Zones

Endurance training will have you using a heart rate range of 55%-75% of max for times ranging from 30 minutes to even 90 minutes. You'll find that you aerobic gains won't be a lot here, but you are setting the ground work for higher efforts, and burning off energy at a relatively low rate of fatigue. These efforts are not generally great for anyone training for sports but great for some one trying to stay fit. These efforts fit perfectly though in any athletes downtime, or off season. You need something to keep you from losing all the work you put in to make those gains.

Threshold training is possibly the most fundamental zone to train in since the adaptations gained are the most effect for all levels of aerobic energy output. Threshold heart rate is 75% to 85% of max heart rate. You'll find that you gains are coming a lot quicker, but now you are having a much higher rate of fatigue. While threshold is a value of effort a person can maintain in a stochastic state for a maximum of 1 hour, Typically speaking the average adult can maintain their threshold from 8-15 minutes; as such efforts in this training zone should be of that length.

VO2max training targets building the maximum aerobic potential you have. VO2max training should not be taken lightly and should only be done by professionally trained individuals, under the supervision of professionals or at your own health risk. It is important to remember that VO2max training is extremely taxing on the body, the rate of fatigue is extremely high. This is of course offset with the speed at which aerobic gains can be made. VO2max has a target heart rate of 85%+. If you can get to the level of being able to handle these efforts you will find them most beneficial for your aerobic base. VO2max efforts will be between 3-8 minutes in length and require ample time warming up and cooling down.

Building an aerobic base is not simple and should be done under the supervision of a trained professional. Remember, ⅓ of sports is aerobic in nature. Don't forget to maintain the engine of that muscle car you have a body.

Brought to you by Endurance Addiction. Visit for cutting edge endurance coaching.
Brought to you by Endurance Addiction. Visit for cutting edge endurance coaching. | Source


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    • Paul Rinkenberg profile image

      Paul Rinkenberg 5 years ago from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

      Thanks for the support Cardisa!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 6 years ago from Jamaica

      Hi Paul, welcome to hubpages!

      You have a very interesting hub here on increasing cardiovascular endurance. As a former fitness trainer myself I know exactly what it takes to sustain that energy for extended periods.

      i look forward to reading more of your hubs.

      You can also check out the FAQ and visit the learning center to familiarize yourself with HP policies and guidelines.

      Happy hubbing!