I want to share with you the ultimate aerobic activity that most anyone can do. It only requires one to MOVE to get fit in the shortest amount of time and a little ingenuity to keep it interesting! The intensity applied to aerobic training is the same intensity applied to Reverse Pyramid Training.
Improving Aerobic Fitness
Four (4) ingredients are needed to improve your aerobic condition. These are:
- The frequency (number of workouts per week)
- The intensity (how hard you exercise)
- The duration (length of time spent performing the exercise)
- The type of activity, which "Race-walking" is detailed below as the ultimate aerobic activity anyone can do at any time at any age.
Studies have demonstrated that a minimum of three workouts per week is required to improve your conditioning level. Four to five workouts will accelerate improvement, as long as the proper intensity is achieved. Remember that there is a tradeoff between intensity, frequency and duration. That is, you may exercise for a longer time, but at a lower intensity and/or frequency; or you may exercise for a shorter time, but at a higher intensity and/or frequency, which I prefer doing.
From training studies conducted on healthy people, little positive benefit was shown from activities that were shorter in duration than 15 minutes. A successful aerobic conditioning program is best achieved with sustained, rhythmic activity using the large muscles of the body for a minimum of 20 minutes per workout at your exercise heart rate, for no less than 3 times per week.
"Race-walking" as the Ultimate Aerobic Activity
Race-walking has gained momentum during the last part of the 90s. Why? People are realizing both its convenience and benefits for getting into aerobic conditioning. By picking up the pace from just walking, race-walking burns fat, slims your hips and energizes the whole body. I use race-walking at the end of my training session as a warm-down for my whole body. Rarely do I use it to begin my training session. If you do aerobic training before your weight training then STOP. You are just wasting energy that is needed for your weight training sessions. Weight training is more demanding on the body because of the "weight resistance" while exercising.
Sometimes I might race-walk on the treadmill for a half-mile between body parts if I am feeling tired or sluggish during the middle of my training session. I do this to help myself regain energy. And it works! Race-walking between body parts literally picks me back up (keeps me motivated)! Race-walking actually gives me more energy to complete my whole workout. Recall the first law of thermodynamics: energy is neither created nor destroyed. It is simply transferred. It is true. That's why race-walking has become a favorite aerobic activity of mine for the past 10 years. Just like Reverse Pyramid Training I make race-walking a short but sweet cardio workout.
"It takes at least as much energy to race-walk as it does to jog if you maintain a quick pace", says Jay T. Kearney, Ph.D., senior sports physiologist for the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs. In fact, the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas found that speed walkers - those who raced along at a 12-minute-mile (maintaining a pace of 5.0 mph or above) - saw fitness gains similar to those of joggers.
Race-walking is a great fat burner, incinerating more than 500 calories an hour. And it builds muscle - especially in your lower body - more efficiently than regular fitness walking because of the form you use. Your quadriceps, hamstrings, abdominals, buttocks, calves and shins are all worked at the same time. If you want to have a leaner, firmer lower body in 6 to 8 weeks race-walking is the ultimate aerobic activity.
Race-walking not only builds strength and stamina but also speed. You'll notice that when you first begin your shins will be extremely sore. For this reason you should begin with a gradual pace and use minute intervals (mixing slower walks with faster, more intense ones each minute) to increase your strength, stamina and speed; and also to avoid boredom and burn-out. Aerobic activity, just like any sport, should be fun! It's up to you to make it that way.
First, start walking for 30 minutes, 3 times a week between 3.0 and 3.5 mph. You can workout with one or two-minute intervals, 2 to 3 times a week for variety. Gradually increase your frequency to 4 to 6 days per week and speed until you are able to maintain a brisk 4.0 to 5.0 mph pace. For an increase of speed or intensity you may want to decrease your race-walking duration to a minimum of 20 minutes to maintain an aerobic effect.
Currently I use race-walking on the treadmill with a maintenance speed of 4.2 and 4.5 as a warm-down for completing my training regimen.
Here are a few tips for race-walking:
- Maintain aerobic rhythmic action throughout your whole body by picking up your legs and swinging your arms.
- Maintain a high profile by holding your head and chest high and keeping your shoulders back.
- Exhale huge amounts of air through your mouth to increase your oxygen output and cardiovascular efficiency.
- Push your legs forward by using the strength of your hamstrings not your calves and neither your hips.
- Use interval training to keep it interesting to sustain motivation.
- Listen to invigorating music to stay energized!
- Keep your whole body tight and focus on the task at hand: your resolve to get a stronger and better-conditioned body!
Keep your aerobic training short but sweet!
Copyright © Randy M. Herring