Like Training programs that are based upon maximum heart rate, Anaerobic threshold (AT)-based training zones are relative to varying levels of intensity, each of which serves different training objectives. Each of these zones develops essential physiological functions that contribute to good health and improved fitness, especially the possibility of weight loss. So you should never limit your training to a single metabolic zone, although you may exercise predominantly in one zone for a given time in order to reach specific training objectives.
Except for rank beginners or people with health related limitations, all levels of intensity are appropriate to ensure maximum cardiovascular development and results. How much and how often you work in each zone will depend on your athletic goals and your current level of fitness (continue reading for a more detailed description of the zones and their primary applications).
Zone Cardio Training
Let’s look at the volume of the different zones that should be performed weekly. As a rule of thumb, 60 to 65 percent of your total workout time should focus on Zones 1 and 2; 30 to 35 percent on Zones 3 and 4; and about 5 percent on Zone 5. But you need not incorporate all zones into a single workout. In fact, you’ll get better results from designing a range of different workouts throughout the week – including long, easy ones in Zones 1 and 2, and shorter, tougher ones that occupy more time in Zones 3, 4 and 5. (1)
ZONE 1: Warm-up
Heart-rate range: 60 to 70 percent of AT.
Training objectives: Encourage blood flow and burn fat.
What’s happening: This is almost a pure aerobic state, which you can maintain almost indefinitely without experiencing any rise in blood lactate.
Feeling: Comfortable to talk and breathe through your nose.
How long: 10-minute warm-up progressing to higher intensity zones for 45 minutes or longer. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to start with a shorter workout and build up to 45 minutes, or do several shorter workouts throughout the day.
Zone 1 basics: This is a good place to launch your fitness program if you are a beginner or returning to exercise after taking off several months or more. It develops basic exercise technique, endurance and an aerobic base. Ideally, if you are new to exercise, or returning to training after a long break, you should stay in Zone 1 for about six weeks before moving up in zones. Zone 1 is also a good place to recover from tougher workouts.
ZONE 2: Aerobic Development
Heart-rate range: 70 to 90 percent of AT.
Training objectives: Build aerobic efficiency and maximize fat burning at a higher caloric rate.
What’s happening: A small rise in blood lactate occurs, yet the body can process it without buildup.
Feeling: You can still converse and may have the urge to go faster. Breathing deepens a bit.
How long: 30 minutes (beginner); 90 minutes or longer (advanced).
Zone 2 basics: Before developing your lactate tolerance or increasing your AT, you should fully develop your “aerobic base,” and this is a great zone for moving that effort forward. Noticeable improvement in this zone generally takes about six weeks of consistent training. But don’t worry: As you become more efficient and fit, you’ll be able to work out faster in every zone. For fit people, Zone 2 is also a good place for active recovery.
ZONE 3: Aerobic Endurance
Heart-rate range: 90 to 100 percent of AT.
Training objectives: Increase endurance. Here, you push your AT up to higher intensity by training your body to tolerate more lactate in the blood.
What’s happening: As intensity increases, not all lactate produced in the cells can be shuttled back into the metabolic cycle. Lactate levels in the blood begin to rise and, with time, fatigue sets in.
Feeling: Breathing becomes noticeable, but not too difficult; conversation is restricted to short sentences.
How long: 20 minutes (beginner); one hour or more (advanced).
Zone 3 basics: Building endurance at your AT through long intervals (four to 10 minutes) at threshold range will help raise your AT and slowly develop your body’s tolerance of lactate. This training adaptation also allows your body to burn fat more efficiently. The idea here is to rest between intervals with your heart rate recovering in your aerobic zone and then increase intensity again up to your threshold. (2)
ZONE 4: Anaerobic Endurance
Heart-rate range: 100 to 110 percent of AT.
Training objectives: Increase athletic ability by improving lactate tolerance. Here you’re pushing AT and VO2 max (your body’s highest ability to utilize oxygen), challenging the heart to work longer, and increasing cardiac output (more blood is being pumped with each stroke, thus requiring fewer strokes per minute).
What’s happening: Your body switches into primarily using glycogen or carbohydrate to fuel its need for energy, and your blood-lactate levels dramatically increase.
Feeling: Breathing becomes heavy, difficult and uncomfortable. You may also experience “muscle burn” because of lactate buildup.
How long: Five minutes (beginner); 30 minutes (advanced).
Zone 4 basics: Run at an aerobic pace, then speed up or increase resistance until your heart beats at 110 percent of your AT range. Maintain this level for one to four minutes. Reduce the pace until your heart returns slightly below AT, but not completely back to the aerobic zone. Then repeat the interval.
ZONE 5: Speed and Power
Heart-rate range: 110 percent of AT to MHR.
Training objectives: Increase athletic ability by improving neurological response, exercise mechanics, speed and muscle power.
What’s happening: Your body is burning the last remaining fuel (glycogen) in your muscles and cannot sustain this maximum effort for more than a few seconds without succumbing to exhaustion.
Feeling: Extremely difficult and uncomfortable. You’ll feel breathless and may hear pounding in your chest. You’ll feel an intense desire to slow or stop.
How long: Typically several seconds.
Zone 5 basics: Your work here consists of sprints and very intense, short intervals (up to one minute). Although you can come in and out of Zone 5 several times during the course of a single workout, spending more than 10 percent of your total workout time in this zone increases your risk of injury. If you’ve done a significant amount of Zone 5 work, be sure to add recovery time (meaning a day or two of rest or working in Zones 1 and 2) before returning to Zones 4 and 5.
Progress Makes Perfect
By using your AT as a marker for aerobic exercise, you can base your training on a highly individualized fitness parameter, without having to guess about percentages of MHR. This lets you take advantage of every exercise session, knowing you are making the most of your time and energy. And as your fitness improves, so will your AT – one of the best indicators of cardiovascular health, fitness and overall vitality.
How to use your Anerobic Threshold to lose unwanted fat
Physiologists use the abbreviation AT (for anaerobic threshold) to describe the tipping point where your body shifts from primarily burning fats (aerobic activity) to burning stored sugars (anaerobic activity) in order to provide fuel. Your AT corresponds to a specific range of heart-rate measurements, say, for example, from 150 beats per minute to 155, but the actual range varies from person to person.
Since most MHR-based cardiovascular training ultimately emphasizes staying within the zone where your heart is working aerobically, knowing your actual AT – the point at which you slide into the anaerobic zone – can make your training more precise and help ensure that you are spending your workout time wisely. (3)
Best Method: Metabolic Testing
The best way to target your AT is to undergo metabolic testing. The test involves running on a treadmill or riding a stationary cycle with a mask over your face to capture and analyze the oxygen you consume and the carbon dioxide you exhale under varying levels of exercise intensity. Computerized equipment then analyzes the expired gases. The point at which the oxygen you consume equals the carbon dioxide you exhale marks your AT.
Good Method: Observed Exertion
You can get a reasonably good sense of your AT without being hooked up to a machine. A certified fitness professional can help you identify your AT through a combination of two experiments: the Talk Test and the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion.
Talk Test: While jogging or cycling at an easy pace, you can be confident that you won’t exceed your aerobic metabolic zone as long as you can converse fairly normally (without speaking in short bursts). As you increase the intensity of your effort, however, you’ll notice that your breath deepens and it becomes more difficult to inhale and exhale exclusively through your nose. Although you can still converse, it requires more labor. This is your signal that you have reached the lower edge of your AT. Note your heart rate.
You could probably exercise at this rate for a long period, and even carry on a conversation, but you have stopped using purely aerobic metabolism and begun to use some of your body’s sugar stores for energy.
Pick up the pace and your oxygen demand increases. You begin to breathe through your mouth and exhale more forcefully. You can talk, but the words do not flow as naturally. You now have crossed over the far edge of your AT and your body can no longer supply all of the energy you need through purely aerobic metabolism. Note your heart rate once again.
Getting Into the Zones
Once you’ve established your AT, you can use it to identify and work within a range of different training zones, each of which provides specific fitness benefits. Although various heart rate training and fitness experts divide the zones a little differently and label them in different ways, most identify either four or five zones, with AT occupying a middle-high point on the exertion scale. Most experts also agree on the following fundamentals:
– Exercising well below your AT develops your aerobic capacity. It helps you burn unwanted fat and improve health parameters, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood sugar.
– Exercising in the area at or just below your AT hones exercise endurance, boosts cardiovascular fitness and helps increase your aerobic range. It also burns a lot of calories and increases post-exercise calorie expenditure, meaning your body continues to burn calories for an extended time after completing the exercise.
– Exercising at and above your AT boosts endurance and heart and exercise performance. It also increases your aerobic range and develops your ability to tolerate higher levels of lactate in the blood. Lactate, a byproduct of carbohydrate breakdown during anaerobic exercise, causes a burning sensation in the muscles, making this level of exertion difficult to sustain for very long.
Steps to Enjoy Your First Race
Are you new to fitness or have been jogging for a while and though that a road race was out of your league? Training for and participating in 5k and 10k races can be a great way to increase motivation and improve your results. Road races are for everybody from though looking for competition to those who will walk the event. For many people the whole process of the 5k race can be intimidating, but with a few simple steps you can be running in the race and getting your t-shirt.
Live Lean Today just recently had a team at the Urban Dare and many of the participants were quite nervous about competing in an athletic event. What you find once you are there is that there are people just like you at every event. There were people enjoying the adventure and where finishing was the goal, and there as those who trained hard and competed to win. The whole experience is a motivating event that keeps you healthy and wanting to do it again.
Listed below are some steps to take to start your first race no matter what it is. Want support training for your event a Live Lean Today online fitness trainer will get you ready.
Pick a Race
No matter what your fitness level there is a race you can do. It is a good idea to pick an event that will challenge you to improve your fitness so you have something to work towards. 5k races make the easiest starter and many people who are unable to run walk the race. Other opportunities are 10k, marathons, triathlons, adventure races, and urban adventure races.
The most important thing is to commit to the race and sign up. People follow there money so pay right away and take away the excuses.
Any more, most race sign ups are online and are no more difficult than filling out a form. You will have to put in your shirt size and most races come with an event t-shirt.
What to do when you get to race day. It is ok to be nervous. We all are nervous the first time we do anything. The first thing to do is find the check in spot where you will get your race number and t-shirt.
Now, just spend your time warming up and active stretching. They will let you know when the race is ready to start. Then just line up and have fun.
What most people are surprised to find once they do a race is that almost all races are set up that everybody who participates is a winner. I often find that it is not the winner who feels the most joy at the end of the race. The people who do their first race and feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that they did it far exceed who finishes first or second.